Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Man(un)kind and Nature

Earlier this month, when I returned home from office one day, I was surprised to see a big truck at the entrance of my building. They were stocking up remnants of trees--loads of it and I was wondering if there was a storm or heavy downpour in Mumbai that I missed!

Unlikely, as I love the rains.

A tad suprised and  miffed,  I came up to my floor. After making myself a nice cup of tea, I went to the balcony. The balcony is my favorite place at home and I can spend hours there merely gazing at flowers, admiring the greenery, or imitating the twitter of birds. I especially love to see squirrels and their rapid pace up and down the biggest Gulmohar tree outside my balcony. The richness of the two other Gulmohar trees on either sides of this main epitome of pride, make the view even more beautiful. At a time when greenery is slowly disappearing from our urban lives, I feel blessed to enjoy the fresh air and the soothing colours of the leaves and flowers that help me relax after a tiring day at work. They bring a smile to my face, even when I am sad.

So, where was I? Yes, I went to the balcony for my usual visual treat. But I was in for a SHOCK! The branches of the beautiful tree that tease the grills of my balcony with their ever-lively leaves were missing! The Gulmohar trees seemed to have receded a few yard-steps back from my home. And the lovely tamarind tree looked dwarfed! That's when I realized that these trees had been brutally slaughtered to keep them from coming near the surrounding houses. But it is not as if a wandering branch or two had been cut or some method applied in cleaning up the locality. I gathered that people in the locality had hired some daily-wage laborers to finish off a 'quick n dirty job'. Not that forest authorities were intimated or professionals called to trim the trees!! It was a merciless plunder of the beautiful ambience.

I cannot explain in words what I felt after seeing the trees in such condition. It reminded me of what I learned in school on 'felling of trees'. I even had to sketch something on this subject during my 'drawing class' in Class V. And I felt very bad to draw the picture of a tree being cut.

If you love nature and animals, you surely understand how it feels to see such obnoxious treatment meted out to harmless gifts of God.

I asked some of my building authorities later as to why this had been done! They were very clear in response. They said, the trees had been growing and during the monsoons it would be a crazy situation if they were not cut. I asked as to why the area was not cleaned up and branches trimmed, why the rampant onslaught! Few people stared at me in surprise as if I had asked them for directions to reach Timbaktoo!! One aged gentleman politely replied, "Yes, it is sad", and walked away.

Some others said, that a monkey had become a frequent visitor to the neighborhood, due to the greenery and the shelter provided by the trees. So, to get rid of the monkey, they killed 4 trees!!

The main tree is now without its arms.. the gulmohar trees with their vibrant oranges and fiery red are far away from my balcony. I can see them, but cannot touch the leaves, no matter how much I stretch my hand outside the grills

There was a great uproar among the birds with most of them flying aghast after this tree tragedy hit. Why? Because their nests had been destroyed just before the monsoons. A crow had been feeding its red-mouthed little one and I had been hapily savouring the scene for days. I couldnt find them anymore. The squirrels had disappeared too.

The next morning when I went to the balcony, I felt even worse. Each dawn, a koel used to sit on the branches and sing in its melodious voice. And there would be parrots sitting in a row in one of the branches higher up and swinging peacefully. None of them were there anymore.

It is sad that we humans encroach upon the land of the wild, because we cannot control our own population. We drive them out of their homes and don't even feel bad about it! We talk about plantations and a green planet, but when it comes to maintaining it in our own life, we never practice it.

It is almost a fortnight now since the trees were cut. The rains have brought a new freshness in Mumbai and the view outside my balcony has started getting better again! I can see gulmohar trees, mussaenda, banyan, tamarind, some rubber plants and many more trees and plants whose name I do not know. The rain makes the view even more picturesque. The leaves have started growing on the injured trees. Though the branches will not grow back again due to the haphazard way in which they have been cut, the trees have started looking fuller again. The koel and other birds are back too.. though the distance between my balcony and them is far more than before.

I pray to God that it stays like this now. And I hope going forward, I am able to protest more vehemently about a cause that is close to my heart.

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