Talespin Children

Tree talk

The trees in the garden spoke and laughed. Sometimes, they even cried in pain. Vinay heard them all.

Nine-year-old Vinay ran out of his grandmother’s house, into her garden. Mango, papaya, tamarind and guava trees, dotted the garden. Birds chirped on the branches. Squirrels chattered, scurrying around the tree trunks.

Toto, their pug, bounded out of the house, barking excitedly. Staying with his grandparents, Vinay spent a lot of time in the garden.

“Just like we humans react to different stress conditions, trees too react and have emotions,” said his grandfather as he joined him in the garden.

Vinay wanted to check what his grandfather had said, that when a human touched a leaf or a tree, they changed their tones. He wanted to see whether trees had a life and could talk and feel.

Talking trees?

Approaching a tree, Vinay touched a leaf.

Hearing the happy gurgle of a baby, Vinay looked around. Other than him and Toto, the garden was empty. Grandfather had gone for his walk.

A cool breeze rustled the leaves. Moving to the tamarind tree, Vinay caressed its trunk.

“Hmmmmm,” soothing sounds came from the tree. Vinay’s eyes widened. Trees could talk!

He tickled the tree.

“Ha ha,” the tree laughed.

Toto tugged at his shorts, clamouring for attention. Vinay ran around the trees, Toto chased him. Soon, the other trees too began laughing, happy to see the boy and dog play around them. The birds chirped, the squirrels chattered.

His grandmother came out of the house.

“Can you hear someone laughing?” Vinay asked.

“No,” his grandmother replied. “It’s your imagination. It’s going to rain. You better come in.”

As drops of rain fell, Vinay heard sighs of relief from the parched trees.

A few days later, Vinay was again playing with Toto in the garden. Now, he heard groans.

“Eeee,” someone was wailing.

Vinay went around the garden searching for the creature calling out. The garden was empty. He saw workers chopping the branches of the tamarind tree, as it was extending over the wall.

“Who gave you permission to cut our tree?” Vinay asked.

“Your grandfather got a notice from your neighbour. The branches of the tamarind tree are leaning onto the neighbouring house and damaging their windows,” the worker replied. “That’s why we are cutting some branches.”

As Vinay neared the tree, he realised that the sounds of pain were coming from the tamarind tree.

“Tch, tch,” said the branches of the guava tree as it leaned over to the tamarind tree, in an attempt at consoling.

Secret talks

Vinay stared at the two trees. He seemed to be the only one who could hear their conversation. The workers heard nothing.

Suddenly, Vinay heard a whole lot of different sounds. He looked around the garden, the trees, bushes and plants were whispering their secrets to him.

Vinay moved from tree to tree, listening. The mango tree was complaining about the mark on its bark, where someone had carved out their initials.

Vinay ran into the house, returning with an ice-cube, he rubbed it over the bark.

“Ah,” the tree sighed in relief.

The papaya tree complained of thirst.

Checking to see if his grandmother was watching him from the windows, Vinay poured his coconut water at the base of the papaya tree.

The fig tree groaned in pain. Someone had lit crackers underneath it, last night. Vinay comforted it.

Every evening, Vinay would talk to the trees. During his holidays, with his grandfather’s help, he began cleaning and nursing the trees and making compost using vegetable peels, tea leaves and manure.

“Your green friends are looking so healthy and happy,” his grandfather smiled. “Look at the fruits growing on the trees,” he said as he pointed to the abundance of guavas, figs and papayas.

“Dada, is it true that trees are the lungs of a place?” Vinay asked.

“Yes,” his grandfather replied. “Trees produce oxygen and reduce smog, carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. Trees are natural air-conditioners, their evaporation produces a cooling effect. They provide habitats for various birds, insects and animals. The colour green is soothing, it calms the nerves and the mind, and relieves eye-strain.”

Vinay decided that he would become a tree doctor when he grew up.

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Printable version | Jun 1, 2020 5:56:53 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/tree-talk/article31088930.ece

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