Gandhi Quiz


When Trees stopped speaking

Raghu was a little boy who lived in the dense jungles of the Nilgiris. He had a lovely little wooden house in between the dense rainforest. Most of the time, Raghu had nothing to do. There was only one activity that kept him busy during the day and that was collecting fire wood for the kitchen and to keep the family warm. Raghu did not have any friends. When he felt lonely and had no one to speak to, he would often narrate his joys and sorrows to the trees around him.
One foggy morning, Raghu set out to collect fire wood. He was still drowsy and the cold breeze made him feel like cuddling up in his warm blanket. But Raghu's mother drove him out of the house. "You lazy boy! If you don't get us wood to burn, we will all freeze to death," yelled his mother.
Unlike the other days when Raghu would walk miles picking up dry branches, he decided to just cut off a tree near his house. "Why walk all the way in this cold weather when I can get my work done right here near my house," mumbled Raghu to himself.
Raghu pulled up his sleeves and raised his axe. As he was about to chop the bark of the tree he heard a screeching sound. "STOP, STOP, don't cut me."
This startled Raghu. He wondered if the tree had a ghost living in it. Raghu had heard of many stories where ghost made trees their homes and the one who cut that tree would be possessed by the ghost. Raghu shivered at this thought. So he decided to leave the tree and chop another tree.
And as he raised his axe to chop the next tree he heard the same words. "STOP, STOP, don't cut me."
The first thought that crossed Raghu's mind was to run home, but he pictured his mother standing at the door waiting for firewood. He then thought of walking across the forest and picking up dry branches. But the thought made his feel so tired. So Raghu decided to muster up some courage and request the ghost in the tree to find another home since he needed to cut it.
"Dear ghost," said Raghu, his voice trembled. Before he could finish, he heard someone speak, "There is no ghost living here. It is me, the tree who is speaking to you." "What? A speaking tree!" exclaimed Raghu. "How can a tree speak?" asked Raghu. "You spoke to us for so many years. We were your friends. We too can speak to you," said another tree.
Now Raghu was amazed! "But trees are meant to be cut. Why shouldn't I cut you?" asked Raghu. "I am a eucalyptus trees. I prevent landslides and protect grasslands. The oil extracted from my leaves is very beneficial. How can you cut me?" replied the tree. "You are a very useful tree, indeed. I shall not cut you," said Raghu.
But then, Raghu had to take home firewood so he walked ahead and saw another tree. He decided to cut it. Raghu raised his axe and just then spoke the tree. "STOP, STOP, don't cut me."
"Now what is it?" asked Raghu.
"I am a cherry tree. And I know you love cherry jam. If you cut me there will be no jam for you." "Ha! I love Cherries! How can I cut you?"
So Raghu, satisfied that he didn't cut his favorite cherry tree moved on to another tree.
As he raised his axe, once again the tree spoke.
"Just to let you know, I am a cinnamon tree. You get cinnamon spice from my bark. Your mother uses cinnamon in her curries and also in your favourite caramel custard. I am sure you wouldn't want to cut me down."
So Raghu once again decided not to cut down the cinnamon tree. And as Raghu went around the forest trying to cut every tree he realised that each tree was of some use to him and others too.
At last, Raghu decided that he would not cut any tree rather he would walk through the forest and pick up all the dry branches. All though it was troublesome, he would do it.
Just as this though crossed his mind, a strange looking dwarf jumped in front of him from the back of a tree. "Raghu, that is a very nice thought. The trees are very happy with you," said the dwarf. "The trees want to thank you so they asked me to give you this little wooden wand."
"What can a wooden wand do?" asked Raghu examining the wand in his hand.
"This wand will help you whenever you want anything. If you want honey, show it to the bees. If you want berries, show it to the birds. When you are ready to plow your fields, show it to the bullocks. All of these creatures will help you, Raghu. But remember one thing, never use this wand against nature," explained the dwarf.
"I wonder if it will really work!" said Raghu. Suddenly, Raghu remembered that it was time to run home. As he reached his house he realised he had forgotten to collect wood. So he decided to test the wand. "Dry twigs and branches is what I want," said Raghu. Within minutes all the trees in the forest shook themselves. The birds picked up the dry twigs and branches and pilled them in front of his door. Raghu 's mother was amazed at the hard work Raghu had done.
Now Raghu was living a very comfortable life. The birds, animals and trees of the forest helped him do all his work. And so he became lazy, proud and boastful. All day he ordered the animals and birds to do his work.
One winter morning, Raghu was feeling too cold. He used his wand and asked the Sun to get hotter, hotter and hotter. Soon, the water dried up in the rivers, the trees died and the birds were restless since everything was going against nature. That night the little dwarf came back and took away Raghu's wand. It took many days for the weather to come back to normal. Raghu used the wand against the rules of nature. Ever since that day trees never speak to humans.

By Patricia Pandian Dsouza

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