It was a tall tree and quite old as I could not remember a time when it was not there. It held a lofty place in the botanical garden, right besides one of the ponds. People sat under its shade, dragging their long chairs to evade the sun.
It probably had died a few years ago but no one had noticed I guess, except the garden officials I suppose. I noticed one day that there were no leaves hanging from its branches. I assumed that it was dead but still, the surrounding wildlife made use of it. Birds of prey such as hawks and falcons would sit high in its branches surveying the pond. Herons would use it to probably look for the fishes in it. Ordinary birds of all sorts would use its branches. It was a big tree, and the shade it produced was enormous. Ducks would sit under it and sleep, with one eye open.
It all ended yesterday.
I had arrived at my usual time, around 07:00 in the morning. I passed by the pond and looked at the tree on the other side. It was there, looking massively as it always had. I scanned its branches for sign of wildlife but there was none. Perhaps the birds knew what was coming.
I continued my route walking along my favourite trail. At times I could hear a strange noise, as if one million mosquitoes were buzzing far away. Little did I know that the tree was being felled at that moment.
I returned around 08:00 in the vicinity of the pond and as I looked for the tree, I noticed an empty place. It was horrible, like a scar on the surroundings. The tree was no more. It was in the process of being pulverized by another machine specially used for that purpose. The noise was deafening.
I did not walk over to the area in question, preferring to continue on my path and silently cursing those who had authorized this desecration. Today however I thought that I should look at the stump and try to count the rings. I was amazed that even after 60 there were more rings. This tree must have been between 70 and 100 years old. At least it had been standing for that long.
Of course the administrators of the garden would have declared this a security issue. What if branches had fallen and had hit people? What if a strong gust of wind had uprooted it and killed someone in the process? All valid questions. But I would have liked a less radical solution. Perhaps a good pruning of the branches could have been sufficient.
It is probable that another tree will be planted in this exact location once the stump is removed. But I will never see it as it will be, except perhaps in my imagination.This will be a tree for future generations to enjoy.
I think that at times, some of us are very much like that old tree; looking still very much alive from the outside but dead from the inside. And yet, we still can be useful to society in general. All we need is a good pruning of our outlandish ideas perhaps.