Selfless service of trees

by Ananyo Bhattacharyya

On a usual morning at a park, Mother eucalyptus rose from her sleep at the first stroke of sun rays. Next, she gently woke up her cute little seeds, which have been under her protection for a long time. “Good morning, my dear little children wake up!” she said. “The day has finally arrived. It’s time for all of you to buckle up and carve your own journey.” “Mommy, I don’t want to leave you. I feel so happy here with you and my siblings. I would miss your stories. I will miss you,” replied one of the seeds in agony.

“My dear little darling, I will miss you too. Evolution is critical for the survival of our species. See, the larger picture, my dear son. Moreover, I am growing old and couldn’t bear the weight of you after a certain point in time,” responded the mother.

“Mom, I feel scared of the outside world,” said the seed shiveringly. “I don’t know where I would eventually end up and what I will have to do for my living.”

“Don’t worry my dear child. That’s why I have intentionally kept this story towards the end.” She could sense the sudden spark in the eyes of her children, probably because they are going to hear from her for the last time.

“So tell me. What did I narrate you in our last storytelling session? ” urged mother.

“You briefed us about germination when I enquired you how much time will I take to grow as long as you are,” answered that seed.

“Wonderful, now can anyone explain to me the process of germination in a nutshell?”

“It is the process which results in our growth from a tiny seed to a seedling and finally as tall as you are,” replied another seed excitedly.

“I am glad you heard me well”, replied mother in awe.

“Does anyone know what keeps you and me alive?” asked mother which puzzled her kids.

After a brief period of silence, mother said, “This shall be the last lesson, so open your ears and hear me well. Every organism on Earth requires food for its survival. Plants are one of the few organisms which can prepare food on their own. These organisms are known as autotrophs.”

“Wow, this is amazing. Plants must be proud of themselves. But wait, where is the food cooked?“ interrupted one of the seeds.

“My curious kid, permit me to finish,” asserted the mother pointing towards her leaves. “See these leaves. Food factories are present here. Cooking food requires the presence of raw materials. Water is a key raw material which is absorbed by roots and transported to branches and then finally reaches the kitchens which are leaves. The fuel required to cook food is obtained from sunlight and is captured by a very special green pigment present in leaves known as chlorophyll. The energy from sunlight is expended to synthesise food from carbon dioxide and water. This process of preparing food in the presence of sunlight is known as photosynthesis. In this process, leaves release a gas known as oxygen.”

The seeds were enthralled after listening to this story. One of them enquired about the need for releasing oxygen. “You see little Tom there playing with the ball. The oxygen that the leaves release is inhaled by Tom which gives him the energy to play.

In fact, every living being requires oxygen for their existence and to engage in their day to day affairs,” replied mother.

“Wow, this makes me wonder whether trees are respected the most on this planet. It feels incredible to hear that we help in the survival of living beings,” said one of the seeds excitedly.

“Well, yes. There was a time when we were respected,” said mother in a poignant voice. “Long ago, there was a time we were honoured, to the extent we were worshipped in certain human communities. However, matters changed for worse.

Humans began depleting forests for their selfish purposes. Nearly a century ago, this area was thrived by my sibling trees, but they were gradually being replaced with roads and buildings. Presently I am the solitary tree in this area.”

“That’s undone,” lambasted one of the seeds. “In the near future, if I grow into a tree, I will instruct my leaves not to release oxygen. Let the humans pay for their actions.”

“No,” said mother. “Never do that. We would be working selflessly towards oxygen production. We would abide by our sacrosanct duty. Otherwise, the difference in actions between humans and us would get blurred. Moreover, there is a need to take into consideration the stakes of other innocent living beings as well. At the end of the day, we are all connected and dependent in some way or the other. All I can hope is that in the coming time, rationality prevail among humans, which will help us to live in harmony.”

After hearing this, seeds gazed at her with deep admiration. They became aware of the responsibility they were entitled to.

“I guess it’s time now. I wish you all luck for your future endeavours.” Having said this, mother dropped her cute little seeds, with each one of them reflecting on what the future hold for them.