The Life of Trees
This is a realistic story; a similar incident happened in my village once. @first draft 2016
There was a valley, one deep ravine, with a river running roughly through it. By this torrent slope, there were two villages facing each other. They lay close; only a heavy pull of an arrow would reach to the perimeter of the vicinity. These villagers were fertile in terms of sex; each year the population would double and by and by the resources became scarce day by day. For example, to get firewood, everyday they needed to go further and further.
As I said earlier, the length of these two villages was the length of arrow field. People really took this distance as a shooting field; people often played arrows, and they never picked up arrows! In reply, this opened to serious splits of inexorable words; little boys and girls, young and old, all threw their bad spits to each other. I mean poisoned arrows.
The basis of these poisonous arrow heads was the river in between them. While it flowed geographically downhill, people on both sides declared ownership. The river became a spill particularly in summer when crop growing times hit the roof. It turned out that, every household had the right to dig its own canals for their rice field. The result? The river was succumbed to exploitation, and so many tributaries and smaller branches dispersed, and if you looked from the other side of the valley, you would see hundreds of fingerlike- snaky channels everywhere from the mainstream. It had wrought the land to waste and because of these snaky tributaries erosion often took place in summer in both the valleys and villages. On the whole, the type of contention for the villagers to had running water canals, for their own home had built-up inside every mind. The consequence as an effect was, the river was too small to provide sufficiently to the entire household of both villages. Forty households were too many for a small river to feed. And almost three hundred heads to fill up the thirst.
The trend quickly picked up that only the wealthy and tough houses’ owners would have large and continuous flows. Therefore, some lowly and modest people did not have a supply. As a reason, people went to the dead end to get their shares. Many untoward problems happened on a regular basis. People in congregations went at night to divert water to their own field. It became routine, and there were times; both the villagers would be there in the night diverting the water to their water ways. Fights would break up, and there would be nuisance in the night. As much as all, the river had turned out to be a source of sorrows and infuriation to two villages. No one could live without water, until and unless, people didn’t have good rice cultivation. They would do anything; some even provoked the river, others to the untimely rains. Because of the scarcity of water, sometimes, unfortunate people even led their lives in poverty for the reason that the river wasn’t sufficient.
Villagers began to point their fingers at each other in the broad daylight; they began to form groups and yell at the others, and each village did the same. They claimed their own need, yet the source and the thick tropical forest above the villages were questioned. Their claim was baseless, as the particular land belonged to what they called government. “Who is the government?” Several aged inquired. It was nobody’s land and everyone had right. So there were arguments. The village became the good example of lack of organization, and lack of cooperation. Everyone was a master. The natives muddled themselves. All were one, but one was not all. They didn’t realize the importance of inter-dependence.
The river was an area of fighting to them and sometimes there were events of funny scenes. Allies of villagers stood face to face on the two banks of the river. From these two sides, they threw thousands of verbal abuses and rages. The watercourse acted as a barricade and a judge to keep them from hitting one another!
The corollary of such quarrels had shown the way to grave disturbance and destruction to the village’s forest. People begun to hacked down the trees from both sides - enviously. Animals were let to graze mercilessly; the jungle was on fire and within a short span of time the land was reduced to an area empty of trees, for the reason that it was nobody’s territory.
The cost of this deed was to wait for the next cultivation. The source of the river dried up, the course was of dry bed, and even a stone thirsted for water. The dripping wet drops in the morning dried up in the leaves. People from both sides gathered with their spade and hoe beside the passage. It was vain. Every time, they stared at each other in consternation, and they bowed back as it was high time for farming activities.
The village elders gathered and looked up at the sky expecting rains. They did the rituals for rain god to release as much drops for their need. Even if the rainfall was heavy, the next day it would be dried. There were no roots to hold the water. The soil got washed away. The course of the river was parched, and the source became earthen. The village was arid as a result. The thin crops beat the heat of the sun, and they soon bent. Birds and animals migrated, and they never returned. The clouds above the villages thinned out and vanished away. No one understood who took the river; was it because of frequent fights between the two villages that angered water demons? Was it because of the consequence of trees that they have cut thoughtlessly and acquisitively? No one knew.
The aftermath was certain. That some - whole years, the rain was scant. There was evidence of poverty in the villages. Some people set out in search of food grains to far-flung villages and came back empty-handed to the home. It was because of the impression of the past and the absurdities of the villagers, other people knew the nature of these villages. So, they are cruelly welcomed by others. On the other hand, their fertility rate was reduced drastically; people even didn’t have energy to work on as they lacked basic nutrition diet.
Then, the poverty hit for many years. Two villages looked deserted. People became lean and thin because they had nothing to eat. Even then, they would never come together. Every one played a blame game. Other villagers said to another that they were responsible for this. But, none accepted the fault. Everyone reasoned, but nobody listened. Villagers flung apart, they wandered in dread of famine, as cultivation was not viable. People knew that there was no way to live in their own village. They began to shift to different parts of country. Some permanently locked their house and went to their relatives’ home. Some went looking for any kind of jobs. A few group of people from both villages had nowhere to go, so they had to stay. Whatever might be, they wouldn’t mingle each other and talk.
There was this dark tragedy in these villages. After seven years, the terrific rains - unknown in their history, washed away many houses. It had cost seven people’s life; three from one village and four from other. This incident had repercussion on them of coming together. This tragedy alerted everyone. They didn’t think. They acted briskly. And it was the tragedy that came as a blessing to the two villages. Both the villagers helped each other to dig up the bodies, and showed sorrows and condolences to the affected families. The villagers also came to know that a few houses of both the villages stood unaffected by these terrific rains. They went around to look together, and to their surprise, they found that each safe house was surrounded by trees and bushes. There was no questioned to be asked. They stared each other for some time and walked away indignantly. Nothing came to their mind. It was only those trees that they thought for a long time in their home. These few group of people had to bear the brunt of everyone.
They soon decided to gather, and they soon mingled. They talked about life saving trees. They agreed that downing of trees had deserted their lives. They agreed that the source of their river was trees. They agreed that the trees were the food to them. They agreed that nothing would be possible without trees. For the first time, they thought jointly, discussed together to find a resolution to the water problem. They became a good friend. They became like a family. The river was running in between their villages for ages. They knew they fought for it, and they knew they fought for individual benefit. They knew it was a mistake. Their realization took another generation to bring back. The brunt needed to be borne by children’s children.
The people of these villages came together hastily. They had a gathering. The discussion was followed by a sumptuous lunch. Each household brought whatever food items left at their home. It was a grand celebration of happy reunion. It turned out to be an informal gathering. Each individual talked away private and common things with another. As of now, they didn’t have anything, but they had happiness and unity.
In their public gathering they decided that every person would bring seven saplings of any trees from the thick jungles below their villages. The date was fixed. And on that day, they agreed to bring packed lunch and have a picnic of a sort. So, on the said day, together, they planted two thousands species of plants. The barren land was dotted with green saplings. They took care of each tree like their sons or daughters. They fenced from domestic animals. They were their only hope. The cost of their destruction was to wait another twenty or more years, and they did.
Seventy seven years later, a forest of trees grew from where their grandparents had planted. The river once again flowed noisily. People who had left the village came with a big congratulation. Birds and animals came back. Their neighboring villages looked upon them with awed for their accomplishment. The river was shared properly with one another. It was equally divided for them. Each village had one big canal supplying water for all homes. And at least, there was no nocturnal by the riverside, but the nocturnal grew in the two villagers; boys from two villages travelled boldly to the neighboring village hunting for their beloved ones.
This was a valley, with deep ravine, with a dry river bed. By this torrent slope, the two villages lay closed; facing each other. Once it was a place of disorders, it was a place of differences and contentions. But now, they didn’t play arrows singularly. They played a match, an archery match almost every month. Now, little boys and girls, young and old, all threw their spits to each other. This time they screamed playfully to distract players. I mean arrows of happiness.
These villagers continuously remained fertile; with the free passage of villagers to and fro, the cocks had no used of signaling people to wake up. They walked out from the house of their lovers, leisurely.
Copyright @ Saacha Dorji 2016