Tuesday, December 30, 2008


A long time back it was. I was living in a large family, which brings along with it its own share of bloody joys and sorrows - waiting in line for the toilet, fights over who is going next to the bathroom and who gets to have the remote, dinner with a gang of 14, noisy and fun christmases and diwalis... phew! it was one roller-coaster ride. Well all this was happening in the side-wings. The main-stage belonged to my dad and uncles who were busy haggling over family issues. One such issue led to the following short story when I was 15...


I first heard it as a faint thumping. I pulled the blanket over me and turned on the other side, trying to shake off the disturbance. But it persisted. I groggily opened my eyes and pushed the blanket to my side….It was the unmistakable sound of metal against wood….A tree was being cut. I jumped up and looked out of my window, rubbing my eyes to clear out the nocturnal deposits. There outside my window, in our ancestral garden, a veteran was being pulled down – an old hibiscus tree. I could feel my guts contract. I was witnessing a gruesome murder.
The murderer brought down his axe repeatedly on the old albeit strong body of the tree. The tree wouldn’t give in; he fought back offering strong resistance. He had rendered his service of protection and utility for too long a period to be forcefully pulled down. But he was a tree after all wasn’t he? His dermis was split open; his first line of defence rendered useless. The murderer exulted, effusive over having scored a point over his old opponent. The murderer secretly knew in his heart that he would win…No… he was absolutely sure. He had done this before; he was an old hand at this. Yes! he would win! The tree’s strength began to wean. The axe was being brought down even more forcefully now. The murderer reached the life centre of the tree – the soft, sensitive, white core. Its sight gave the murderer new strength, born from a maniacal frenzy, increasing every second.
The sound….KAAT!...KAAT!...KAAT!...seemed mundane to the terrestrial world, dampened by the even more deafening sounds of cars, horns and children. But deep down in the bowels of the earth, the sound resonated with a demonic clarity. It shook the very foundation of life, threatening to tear apart the fragile heart of Mother Nature. She trembled, quivered, frantically searching for a place in the now dark underworld to hide herself and block out the deadly, piercing cries of help of the tree. It was futile, useless…for everywhere, every pocket of space was filled with the sobs and cries of her dying offspring.
Back on the surface, in my ancestral garden, the tree was losing the battle. The sharp metal cut through his xylal veins, splattering the liquid of life everywhere. But the murderer continued. He put down the axe and caught hold of him. The tree gave in. The murderer twisted his body, or rather what remained of it, to and fro. The pain, the tingling, agonizing pain, shot up through his dry fibers, reaching every single leaf and flower, making them scream and shake. I held on to the bars of my window as I saw the tree living its last dying moments. Framed in my window like a sad painting; bright red and green, and of course, the pale, visceral white. The leaves and flowers gasped.
CRRAAACCKK!,,,,,,,,,,THUD!...and shook for a last time.
Then everything was still. The only sound was the murderer’s heavy breathing. He wiped the sweat off his fore-head and flicked it. The beads of sweat fell on and mixed with the laborious secretions of the tree. The buds were closed….as they’ll remain forever…forbidden to see the light of day. Their delicate stamens curled up in infancy for ever. The golden pollen – a million trees swiped out a once. A floral abortion.
The murderer packed his weapons. With eyes cast downwards, he received the sum for the murder from the one stained with the greater sin. I turned my eyes to the street where a small crowd had gathered. In the crowd was an old man in a white shirt and white dhoti… and a prominent frown. A frown?! But shouldn’t you be amused like the rest of the people standing there? Why was this man frowning? Ah! then I knew. I recognized this man as one who lives down the street. A grumpy, old man. His daily routine included picking hibiscus flowers from the tree in our garden, every morning for pooja. His lament rose from the loss of gain.

So the tree died, lonely and friendless.

Well, there it is, my first baby step. I still don't remeber what it was in me that made me take up this tree-cutting thing with so much of gusto... Especially that part about mother nature and all, I still chuckle when I reach that part! A lil too dramatic for modern tastes I guess... I left it there so that I can show how my baby step really manifested itself... But, I still haven't shown this to my uncles or dad though! Since they are technically supposed to be the ones 'stained with the greater sin'... And oh yeah, that old man's dead now I heard.


Brian 'Curmudgeon' Polson said...

This is brilliant for 15 man! And I especially liked the use of "floral abortion". It's like a 2 word poem.

Priyanka said...

hey i remember this!!it was ur contribution to the anthology!always thought it was an amazing piece of work!

Daicub&Daicub said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Daicub&Daicub said...

Well Polson I'm dwelling on that since you mentioned it... And its making me conjure up so many images!

Yeah Pri in our anthology it was... Since I don't know where I threw it, I thought I'll put it up here for keepsake :)