Axee | Apr 14, 2009
I remember several tales told to me, as a child, by my beloved grandmother.
My grandparents had a huge mansion with several large trees on the spacious compound.
All of us, as a family, would gather here every summer as a kind of annual reunion.
The days being long, evenings would stretch too.
They would finally come to an end, with some very interesting tales from my grandma, after a sumptuous dinner.
We would huddle around her, under one of the the huge trees in the front courtyard. More often than not, this would be under the neem tree, by choice.
She would lovingly fan us, with a hand fan, and tell stories while reclining on a padded up, ‘char-poys’ with several bolster pillows, strewn around, for us to rest on.
One of them, I remember well is about trees and their large bigheartedness! A similar story is currently circulating on the net but here is how I remember the one told to me.
Once upon a time, there was a very young boy, who used to love spending time playing with his toys. His favourite playing place was under a full grown, fruit bearing tree.
In time, the tree and the boy became talking companions.
One day the little boy got bored and told to the tree, “I am bored – I have played with these toys too many times!”
The tree replied, “OK, don’t dismay, you can climb up on me and play on my branches.”
The boy was very happy with this suggestion and sure enough he started having a lot of fun climbing and sitting high up on the branches of the tree.
We have all done that as kids, haven’t we ?
One day he started school and for a long time he did not come to play under the tree. After some time had passed however, he came back to the tree. His old companion was overjoyed to see him and the tree encouraged him to climb on but the child refused!
“My school clothes are going to get dirty if I climb up on you,” complained the child!
The tree thought for a while and said, “OK, don’t worry. Go, bring a rope and tie it to one of my branches and you can enjoy a swing.”
The boy liked that idea and he quickly slung a swing as directed. He come back to play with his new toy every day, swinging lazily at times but aggressively on occasions when he was in an upbeat mood! The branch on which the swing was slung took the load without complaint. The damage that resulted from the constant friction and rub were also borne gracefully and quietly by the faithful tree. During summers, when the heat became unbearable, the tree would tell him to rest in its shade as well. The boy would lie down and rest there, to beat the sweltering heat.
Time progressed and the boy soon outgrew the swing and discarded it.
As he got older and moved on to college, times became harder on him. He had almost forgotten about the tree because he was preoccupied with his studies. As a struggling student he ran short of food very often.
One day he went back to the tree after a long time. The tree recognized him immediately and welcomed him.
The boy happened to be hungry and complained to the tree, “I do not have any food to eat, my stomach is cramping with hunger.”
The tree smiled and said, “Pull down my branches, pluck off some fruit, and fill yourself up.”
The young man, without batting an eyelid, jumped up and tore off one of the smaller branches from the trunk!
He ate and ate to his fill.
He did not stop there.
Over the weeks, he tore off all the branches and ate all the fruit.
After the fruit had all gone and the tree was left barren, he went away and did not come back to the tree as he thought it had nothing else to give him.
With time, when he reached his middle age, he came back to the tree and said: “I have been very successful in life. I have earned a lot of money, I have a huge house and I have found a great wife. Now I feel I need to travel and see the world.”
The tree by was now quite old and was not fruit bearing any more but still wanted to help its long time companion. The old tree told him, “Don’t worry. Bring a saw, cut off my trunk and make a boat out of it. Then launch that boat into the ocean and set sail with your wife to see the wonders of the world. Do that! ”
Without an iota of hesitation, the man cut down the tree. Branch by branch.
He began making the boat to sail away with his wife. He made it by cutting not one but all the branches and the trunk as well. As soon as he was finished, he set sail with his pretty wife in tow.
All that now remained of that glorious tree, once the boat was gone, was a stump. With time
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