Saturday, October 9, 2010

My Name is GUL and I am not a terrorist!

My Name is GUL, Gulmohar and I am not a terrorist.

I am a tree, one of the many, scalded and bleached by irresponsible and ignominious human activities. Bridges, buildings, flyovers, foot over bridges, road-widening projects, name a commercial activity and people axe us to death mercilessly. There is an unanswered question that keeps ringing in my mind – “Why do people slay us when we provide them shade from scorching sun, cleanse the air that they breathe, decorate their avenues with an orange red hue in full bloom and nurture life of many forms like insects, squirrels, birds and even their young ones in nests?” Practically, photosynthetically and aesthetically, we resolve to stand by humans, enduring bouts of negative emotions from them.

We share a common family name – Gulmohar, Laal is my first name. Our relatives in Canada and America are known as Royal Poinciana. Some in Taiwan and New Zealand are known as Flame of Forest. Scientists who studied us long back gave us an incomprehensible Latin name – Delonix Regia. They state, we hail from an island named Madagascar and are best suited to live in tropical and sub-tropical climates.

In India, we are grown as a street tree, also found in botanical gardens and big parks .Very few mansions shelter us within the limits of their compound wall. People admire us for our fern like foliage, the many leaflets that are vivacious in the morning and fold up lazily in the evening. They adore our red-orange flower canopy. They run around our thick, rounded barks, children merrily and adults shyly and romantically. Some manage to climb on us and play funny pranks on others. Squirrels, crows, million insects thrive in the labyrinth of our branches. Bees hover busily and hungrily over flowery cups of nectar.

I was born and brought up on 100 ft road, Indiranagar, Bangalore. My parents are no more. Last month, they gave way for a new cosmetics outlet and retail showroom. They were axed to death in my presence. For once, I felt I should have a voice like humans do, then I would have shouted aloud for help. I wished fervently that I could move my branches like human limbs, then I would have stopped the atrocities on my parents right when the first crack fell on my mom’s bark. All I did was sway violently in the chill breeze that evening, unable to wreak vengeance on my foes.

We, Gulmohars, are naturalized trees and I have a dozen half brothers and half sisters, tens of cousins, in and around Indiranagar, some in Koramangala too.
My parents always cherished their young days. They reminisced kind gestures made by people who took immense care of them. They basked in abundant sunlight, drank sweet water from the table below, derived indispensable nutrients from the soil that smelt fresh. The air was laced with sweet smell of their comrades – laburnum and champa. They were cherubic with dense, verdi green foliage and bright vermillion flowers.

In the last decade, their health condition deteriorated drastically and so did the attitude of common man towards us. The water turned saline and their xylem vessels, like mine, were choked with salt deposits much like atherosclerosis in humans with high cholesterol. They had breathing difficulties as their leaves were coated with dust, soot, sulphur and high concentration of air pollutants. Their leaves turned from green to an insipid grey color. The velvety texture of their leaves was replaced by a puckered appearance, much like the wrinkles on an octogenarian’s face. Their flowers wilted faster, they lacked the bright and lustrous shades. They grew bald even during spring with only empty branches spreading out in an eerie agony. Much to their despair, they saw all these signs of ageing in my siblings and me at a much younger age.

How could people turn a blind eye to such obvious signs of destruction? Does their education not impart basic knowledge of environment and its timid balance? They did not give a hoot to my parents’ calls for help and change. Instead, they massacred us in large numbers as if we were traitors, outlaws and terrorists.

In a mad rat race towards development, man lays down concrete roads, widens them, digs and mines to reach an abyss, builds glass and aluminium panel buildings, stifles the soils with artificial fertilizers, pesticides and insecticides.. an endless list of harmful chemicals, chokes it even further with plastic bags and garbage, emits plumes of heavy, stifling smoke through his various activities. Man no longer wants the chill breeze and lower temperatures that trees provide, they have artificial air conditioning systems. Man no longer wants our fruits, they want to genetically engineer them to their requirements and tweak our very identity. Man no longer wants rain to fill the water table, he no longer wants us to stop floods for him or bind the soil in its place. Man no longer wants balance in the biosphere; he want to be an omnipotent and ruthless power despite being blessed with super brain faculties.
Man no longer wants peace and he decapitates us like terrorists?

1 comment:

Shruti Garg said...

Nice way of sharing the thought... I can understand it being at Bangalore..

I liked this word the most... photosynthetically... :)