Flash Fiction — A Tree Speaks

Do you have friends? I do. Some of them around me, some a little farther away. I don’t get to talk to them all the time, and I’m a chatty one. But then, you make do with what you can in life, no?

I have faint memories of the time I was planted. Planted, because I live in a city, and there’s too much concrete here for me having a native life. Be that as it may, I don’t recall much of that time. But I’ve heard people living around me talk, and I’ve pieced together my early life from those chats. Mind you, they have multiple contradictory versions of the story. It wasn’t an easy task for me.

I am 20 years old. I have the girth and the persona to command attention. I am also able to reach out to those friends who live across two or four lanes, sometimes even eight. Our sights, sounds and smells keep us close.

This place used to be a town, I’m told. A mofussil collection of folks that knew it had bigger dreams than obscurity. I’m told that I had older friends who were taken off to make space when the city dreams came calling. The gaps between the flora widened, and the evening breeze got rarer. My uncles tell me they used to chat with each other all the time. A ruse of a breeze and they’d start chatting, swaying their bodies around and explaining their feelings to others. Many of them were planted, but a fair few had grown of their own will to live. This meant that there was a plethora of dialects and languages. If a Banyan didn’t understand what exactly a mango was saying, he could ask those who did. Understand that their dialects weren’t completely different, but still, you can’t expect the old and sprawling banyan to understand everything that the Mango said. The mango was and is the cynosure of all eyes, even when it isn’t bearing fruits. Others get drawn to its gorgeous flowers, and its attractive fruits. I think its fragrance is the real clincher though.

Apologies, I digress. Told you I am a chatty one, didn’t I? So, older friends and family members chatted with each other all the time. Now it’s less frequent, and we don’t even get the chance, even when we want to. I’m not the kind to wallow nostalgic about a dreamy past, but it gets lonely sometimes, even when you have others of my ilk around the surrounding houses and lanes. They look at me standing still, and they don’t smile or wave. I keep waiting for someone to do that all the time. Maybe I should smile at them first. Or should I be comfortable in my own skin, as young men and women discuss these days? Maybe a mix of both. One’s gotta talk when one’s gotta talk, eh? Heck, I even try striking up conversations with the birds when they come to me. The other day, there was a flock of pigeons around me, going round and round in long, elliptical routes (Don’t ask me where I learnt the word elliptical. I read, okay?). I asked them what their day was like, and one of them, which I felt was kind enough to open its beak, said,

“What’d you know of our days,
you who never move away?”

It proceeded to take a dump on me for good measure. While I don’t mind the crap (manure, nutrition, germs etc.), why the derision? Luckily for me, my cooking was coming to a close. The sun was going down for the day. There was a breeze around us. I talked with my friends over the next hour and got their backing. Later, as the pigeons came to sit on us, we shook and refused to allow them to sit on us.

“Why?” They cried out in unison.

“Ye travellers, explorers, winged wonders,
We’re stationary fools, find others, you bounders.”

The matter was resolved, of course. (You didn’t think we became enemies, did you? Oh you cynical humans!). The pigeons apologised, and my regular renters came to my arms. We chatted till it was time to sleep. It was difficult for us to sleep early, because you humans are so noisy. So we chatted some more ourselves as well. Why should you lot have all the fun?

When I look from my vantage point, I see my brethren scattered around your abodes and workspaces. We’ve been giving, giving, giving, and you’ve been taking, taking, taking. Apex species and all that crap. If this was a dystopian setting, I’d have led my folks into a rebellion against youse (Again, don’t ask how I know this. I read.). But for the moment, there’s no such plan. Coexistence is a better idea. That said, stop with the mindless destruction and creation. Let us have some space too. And more importantly, chat, with us and with your own kind. A lot of your kind come to my lap and weep and wail, but then I see you lot smiling at each other as if nothing happened. Look at us. We search for excuses to talk our heart out with each other. We dance, and sing, and share our joys and pains if we get a whiff of a wind. Forget our other features, take this from us. Chatty or not, there’s always time for a discussion. After all, that’s what friends are for, isn’t it?

**The End**

What excuses do you make up to talk to your friends? Is there someone you haven’t talked to in a long time? Call them up. Share your thoughts. And tell me your thoughts on this story in the comments section.

Image courtesy: Myself.

Thanks for reading.

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