Worth emulating

Walking down CMH Road some time ago, I was aware of an odd feeling of nakedness. At first, I couldn’t understand what gave rise to that feeling. But when my eyes focussed on one tree stump after another, I realised that the road had been stripped of all its greenery. It was bereft of trees. In the name of progress ( this was the prelude to the arrival of the Metro), the big, beautiful, shady trees that lined either side of the road had been ruthlessly felled. A little ahead, I noticed an even more pathetic, heart-rending sight. The stumps had been savagely uprooted and cast aside. At least the stumps might sprout, if given the chance. But the uprooted stump was a carcass, incapable of regaining life.

This sad sight brought to mind a story that I had been told as a child.
An old, old man, with a body that must have been sturdy in his youth, was digging a row of small pits in the ground. The recent rains had softened the soil. This made his work a bit easy. He placed a sapling in each pit, and with his gnarled hands shovelled the damp soil around the root. Then he tied a supporting stick to each slender sapling. He fetched a watering can and gentled sprinkled a little bit of water around the saplings. Having completed his task, he surveyed his handiwork with satisfaction. A small smile creased his wrinkled face.

A young boy, who had been watching all this fascinatedly, approached the old man. “Please tell me, Sir, why have you planted these saplings?” he asked.

“Several years from now, these sapling will grow into large, shady trees under which people can shelter from the sun’s harsh rays,” he explained.

“But you won’t be alive then!” exclaimed the boy, in the blunt way that children sometimes speak. The old man laughed aloud. This puzzled the boy. “Why are you laughing, Sir?”

The old man pointed to  some trees in the distance. “Do you see all those trees over there?” he questioned.

“Yes,” said the boy.

“Well, they were planted decades ago by men who are no longer alive. But we are enjoying the fruits of their labour. In the same way, long after I am dead and gone, future generations will enjoy the beauty and shade of the huge trees these saplings will have grown into.”

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