Kishore is a worker who made a living doing odd jobs. One day a man hired him to cut a tree. He refused to do it at first, but the man told Kishore that he would be paid twice his usual wages. It was too good an offer for him to resist.

Kishore surveyed the tree and its surroundings. After making a mental blueprint on how to cut the tree, he took his axe and started cutting one of the branches. While working, Kishore heard the man, who had employed him, talk to a friend.

“Ram, how much do you think we will get for it?”

“I think Rs. 50,000 or more. Teak is in great demand,” the other man replied. Kishore continued chopping, paying little regard to what they were saying.

Shyam, Kishore’s son, went to school and that day during the Environmental Studies class, the teacher came in carrying a globe with a plastic tree fixed on it. “Children, today we will be studying about trees. We know that trees are essential for living. They take in carbon dioxide and give out oxygen. They also provide shade and release water vapour which results in rainfall.”

It was a great lesson and Shyam learnt a lot. In the evening, Shyam, Kishore and Parvati, Shyam’s mother, were sitting together for supper. Kishore, who was in a good mood, said, “Today I lucked out, son. I got Rs. 1,000 from my employer for felling a tree.”

“Really? Where did you cut the tree from?” Shyam asked.

“From the forest near the public park,” Kishore replied.

“What? That is a protected area, don’t you know?” Shyam was aghast. Kishore and Parvati exchanged glances, not knowing what their son was talking about. Terms like protected area were unfamiliar to them. Shyam explained all that was taught in class. It had its desired impact on his father. Kishore was filled with remorse. Shyam made his father promise that he would never destroy nature even if it fetched him cartloads of riches.

A few days later, all the leading newspapers ran stories of illegal felling of trees, smuggling of timber and the racket behind it and Kishore could easily recognise the kingpin from the pictures.

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