“I will cut the mango tree, let me see who dares to stop me.” said Sarkar fuming with rage. “Never! It’s our mango tree, it belongs to the village,” retorted Vipin shaking his fingers at Binoy. The conflict had been going on for quite some time. It all started when Binoy Sarkar’s father died leaving 7 acres of land to be divided between two brothers. Sujoy, the elder brother was a good ten years older than him. He had requested Binoy to give him 3 acres of land which was near the village. Binoy was greatly satisfied to get the larger amount of land, far away from the village, with a clump of trees at the centre.
Binoy wanted to cut down the clump of trees which occupied about ½ an acre of land, and increase his cultivable land. It would ensure more crops and a greater income. The problem was the clump of trees was the only place where farmers could rest in shade and have their lunch. It was an indispensable place for the entire village. The huge mango tree that stood along with the other jamun and guava trees had been providing farmers with its delicious mangoes for several generations. The ripe mangoes would spread its aroma through the summer, creating a happy mood for all. The cool shade under the green canopy was a solace to the tired souls after grinding work under the merciless sun.
The very idea of endless fields without a trace of shade created a dread in the hearts of the village farmers. Each of them spoke to Binoy, requesting him to leave the cluster of trees alone, so that villagers could continue to enjoy the cool comfort of the shade during the months that they cultivated. But Binoy was adamant, he refused to listen to any kind of advice. His mind was completely engrossed with the fanciful thoughts of various methods in which he could spend the money, which he would get after selling the wood.
The villagers decided to go to the village council to solve the problem. The village head Parashuram Singh was old and wise. He was supposed to be above ninety, but looked like a sixty year old. Some of the village elders presumed that he could be well over 100, as none of them remembered him as a boy. He had been solving problems of the villagers as long as they could remember. So, the farmers who had their fields around the area shaded by the trees, took their friends and families along with them, for making an appeal against Binoy, to stop him from cutting the trees. ‘Dada ji,’ said Malay, ‘You have seen the clump of trees at the centre of the fields since your birth. Most of us were not even born at that time. The trees have been a part of the villager’s lives for generations. None of our ancestors had this ridiculous idea of chopping off the fruit bearing trees for profit.
Now Binoy is making plans to sell the trees and use the land for cultivation.’ Binoy, who was sitting cross legged in front of the crowd, was defensive, ‘I don’t see anything wrong in it. I have inherited the land and have full rights to do as I like with it.’
“But we have our food and take rest there in between our work. If the shade is destroyed, it would mean going back to our homes for lunch, it would be an unnessary waste of time and money,” Malay’s brother Nilay argued.
‘Ah! I do have a solution to the problem ,” grinned Binoy, pointing his finger to the villagers, “You all can pool in slots of land, and grow your fruit trees in it. That way you would have as much shade and fruit as you want.” He smirked at the look of the villagers, who appeared stupefied.
Headman Parashuram looked at him calmly, then he looked at the villagers and said, “ Binoy has a point here, just because you have been using the shady patch for years; doesn’t mean that you have the right to use it forever, you all have your own land and can plant your own shady patch if you want to enjoy the fruits and shade.”
Binoy looked pleased with the judgement and displayed a broad grin. He had achieved his aim. Now no one could stop him from increasing his land and his yield.
The villagers looked aghast. They had not expected their village head to give such a ruling, it was totally against the head man’s nature to give a wrong judgement. Parasuram put up his hand for silence, as the villagers started to murmur amongst themselves. He then continued slowly in a subdued voice, “However till the trees grow up , strong and big, Binoy will not cut his clump of trees. He will also make personal arrangements for irrigating his own fields, as he is not a believer of community services. He will henceforth not have access to the water from any pond or well that does not belong to him,” he concluded.
Binoy looked stunned at the head man’s ruling. He knew from the sternness in the headman’s voice, that he and his family would soon be ostracized, if he went against the head man’s words. He realised that each one of them was dependent on the other for leading a comfortable life. Personal greed on the part of any one of them would ruin the structure of the society.
The villagers felt happy with the headman’s ruling. He was indeed a wise old man who made them realise that they must live unitedly and work for the greater good of the people.
“Binoy, you may cut the clump of trees that you have inherited but did not plant. But you must also be ready to take in the pains that will follow the gains which you will reap.” said the head man’s in a softer tone.
“Dada ji, It was blind greed that made me think of only my profits , without considering the effects it would have on others. Now, I understand that as others are dependent on me for the shade, so am I dependent on them for many things. I will not cut the trees and everyone is welcome to enjoy the fruits and the shade as they have always enjoyed.” said Binoy apologetically.
The villagers clapped when Binoy finished his speech. Malay and Nilay, who were his childhood friends gave him a hug and they all touched Parashuram’s feet for his blessings. The headman smiled and blessed them. “Greed is the root of all evil” he said, “never let greed overcome your sense of right and wrong. No matter how much you have, you will always want more. There is no end to one’s wants, so keep your feet on the ground and never do things that may harm others.” So saying he got up from his charpoy, and the gathering dispersed. Contentment once again reigned in the hearts of the villagers, and peaceful atmosphere returned.
Happiness and contenment comes from giving. Let us learn from the tree which provides shade for free.