The talking tree

by Swati Sidhu

 

Remember our friend the seed? Looks like his adventures aren’t over yet…

 

I have always loved a good rain. The beauty of my forest is that a lot of rain is never too much. The round raindrops hit my leaves and burst into a shower of tiny droplets. Some of them fall back on my leaves and course through the branches like little streams. These streamlets join one another near my trunk and run down as a gentle river into the rich earth to reach my roots.

You remember how I got here, right? It was the feisty little rodent who carried me away from my mother and placed me safely under fallen leaves, where I found both shelter and moisture. One fine morning, I woke up to find two new leaves coming out of me. I have come a long way since then. As years passed, I protected myself, made friends, and grew taller.

For my growth, I need lots of food which I must cook myself. My roots are a grocery supply chain and provide me with raw materials. My leaves have thousands of kitchens where with the help of raw material and the sun’s heat, I cook a lot of food everyday. My branches and shoot are my food delivery system which work together to distribute the food to all my body parts. I also provide food to other animals who visit me. Some are very small like the caterpillar. She eats my leaf bit by bit, cutting small neat semi-circular portions that deepen and become larger as she continues to feed. The larger animals include langurs that visit me in a family troop. Mothers, their babies, and the big male come around occasionally to feed on my leaves. The young enjoy jumping around on my branches, trapezing as they hang with the help of only a few leaves holding their weights. When I was young, many deer used to visit me and nibble on my leaves. Sometimes I lost most of my leaves and it took a long time for fresh leaves to grow back. There were times when too much sun and heat was bad for me. Other times too much rain and storm made me really sick. But between these short periods of extremes, there were long comfortable times when I grew happily. During this time, I was helped by several earthworms who kept the soil near my roots well ploughed so that I could absorb air and water from soil. Bigger plants shaded me from direct sunlight.

I flowered for the first time this year. Several insects visited me and helped me to pollinate my flowers. Once that was achieved, I ate a little less everyday and pushed my energies into making sugary colourful fruits that encapsulated my seeds. Again, I am being helped by several birds and other animals who come to enjoy my fruits and carry my seeds with them to places far and away in the forest where my children can grow.

Do you hear that sound? It’s a familiar swoosh of wingbeats and its getting closer. Oh, it is the great bird with the largest beak. It’s the hornbill. “ Oh dear tree, can I come and feed on some of your delicious fruits. I promise to carry your seeds far into the forest and find good homes for them. ” I remember being scared of hornbills when I was a seed myself. I was young and stupid. Now I understand that he is a friend. “ Yes please, it is my pleasure.

This article appeared in the Hindu in School on 5 December 2012.