Funny things, trees. The word conjures up pictures, or shapes, rather, that vary vividly from person to person. But the basic yardstick remains the same: leaves, stems, trunk, branches, roots. Shapes and sizes vary. According to climes and times. But, somehow, trees are trees.
Ever tried to see within one? Botanical factors notwithstanding, they are probably the best creation on Earth. Playing their part, a difficult one, with ceaseless doggedness and fathomless devotion.
Half of its significance lies underground, unseen. That gnarled tree with its misshapen branches, bent askew facing the brunt of relentless winds, is not just an agglomeration of a twisted mass of branches sprouting leaves, but also has its life-sustaining still more twisted and profusely branched roots. A fine vein-work in the body of soil. Searching, seeking nourishment and fluid and sending the same up through an intricate pumpwork of tissues. Protoxylem and metaxylem are words again, a minute mosaic in the wholeness of it all.
The life-giving function of flora is known to us all, thus it is needless to dwell on that. What probably is inconceivable that these trees outplay, outlast and outperform humans at every field. And man, recognizing his needs from its every part, uses it.
Wonder what makes the tree go on, if it knows what fate awaits him? What purpose does it see in preparing itself over the years, one hard annual ring after another, for the final cut of immolation? Can’t it see sense, as it looks around? The sound of crashing stems in the proximity, doesn’t this penetrate at least? Companions of years, sharing the same sun, braving the same wind, jostling for the same rain and roots nudging each other in the endless quest for sustenance: and now it comes down in a tangle of snapped leaves and shattered branches; wonder why does not act as a crutch for it? Give support?
Wonderment never ceases.
It’s Nature, one tries to explain, as if to a naive child, unreasonable in its query to this mindless slaughter. And as nature does, it’s a part of its time. But as we say this do we not cross over the line, or is it a part of its destiny too? That if trees are a part of nature, are men unnatural? Logic says so.
When a cut is inflicted, the bark develops a scar-tissue and it heals, naturally. The sight of yawning openings in the main trunks is not uncommon. It goes on and on irrespective of the hollowness. All, ‘naturally’. Ever seen a tree wearing a splint? Or using a crutch? And when its purpose is served it quietly dies. No cries, no obituaries., no mourning and no holidays to honour the passing away of “Tree: the greatest creation God made”. And which man is still trying utmost to undo.
Everyone of them is different, each with its unique personality. No two are the same. The twists and turns, the way a twig is shaped, the way its leaf turns the light, the lattice on its bark which no mason can duplicate: all are different. But wonder how each knows the vital role it has to play. Who tells them, if at all? This elusive purpose it serves; how? How like each other. And how unlike them.
If only they could talk, maybe man would have, one day, a different story to tell. Or maybe they do, all the time, beating their branches in timeless futility, hoping someday we will comprehend? And life still goes on…?
Note: Content originally published here