It was a warm morning, like all the mornings were in this heated village in the corner of southern India. The winds were dead, the sun was hearty and the cattles moaned while they grazed the farm land.
In a small house of mud, lived a small family. The mother was a farmer , the elder son was in the cities doing a well earned job, and finally, the younger son, Saksham who liked his life not a bit more than he liked his school.
Everyone had a habit of bullying the boy in school. Him , belonging to a lower caste, brought more than just a few critical remarks. It brought him emotional scars. He didn’t really have any friends, or even one to call his own. The monotonous hours of school were of pure misery and boredom to Saksham.
On returning home, his mother provided him with warm chapatis and slices of onion and pickles .
“How was your day today ?” , The mother used to ask everyday. But Saksham was more than fond of the food , that his answer to this question was always limited to a word or two.
“Good” He used to lie.
It was not that he was a ‘man’ of few words. In fact, on the contrary Saksham was a being whose existence was defined around words and stories. He was a young story teller, with no ears to hear him out.
Seeing the Sun go down and his mother back to household chores, he used to wander off into the farmlands. The absence of people and presence of nature provided him the fuel for his own world , where pigments of his own creativity existed, conversed and danced.
The walks used to fill the boy up with uncountable characters and stories. Curiosity was his purpose and exploring was his destination.
On one such walk across the farm around 6 in the evening, the boy saw a huge tree with more leaves than the stars in the sky that roofed his head. Treading towards it, he placed himself under the tree and leaned his back on the golden brown bark of the humble existence.
He didn’t know why but words began escaping his lips and he started telling a story to the tree. A story about a young rat who yearns for an apple from the tree where Vultures roam about.
And to his surprise as he ended the story, a leaf from the humble tree fell upon the boy’s head. Picking it up and looking at it, he smiled.
He realised that the tree had liked the story.
“Do you want to hear another one, Green? ” Saksham said with glowing eyes, “It’s about the cloud who couldn’t rain… So Green, once upon a time..” Saksham began the tale.
Years passed by, the tree and the boy became best of friends. For every tale the boy offered to the tree, it replied with an appreciative leaf, upon the boy”s lap.
The boy was now a man of 23 years and planned to move away from the village to find a suited job.
He was hired as a writer, and became a very successful one. The stories he used to tell the tree, were published into 4 successive books that got the man fame, money and friends to his profession.
Years went by, Saksham was now 32 years old. The readers had begun rejecting him. His ideas had become of the past decade and his stories were not to their liking.
The friends of his profession had made new friends and Saksham was left behind, once again, all alone. He tried travelling through the city , finding people to hear him out. But found none.
“I wish i had my Green with me”, He wished silently as his breaths didn’t cooperate with his tears and his heartache.
Lost. Saksham took a 16 hour train ride to his village , and another two hours later he reached the tree. Without having the audacity to look up at his friend that he had ignored and forgotten for 10 years, he fell on his knee and placed his head at the bark . A single tear escaped his eye.
And before he knew it, words began escaping his lips. A magical story began taking place before the two friends. From 6 in the evening to 6 next morning, and finally when the sun began to rise, upon the first ray of sunlight, the story came to an end and a leaf was dropped upon the man’s head.
It was however older, the leaf. Brown and crackling. Saksham looked up at his old friend. There was not one leaf held by it’s old delicate branches. And the last one had been dropped upon him for his story.
Saksham published the story into a 5th book, the audience didn’t expect it to be the best story that they would ever read. But it was. And it was the best story that Saksham ever wrote.
He planted a seed just a few meters away from his old friend , and used to water it everyday. Soon a new younger tree grew up , under which Saksham used to read his son stories that he had written.
His son loved one of his stories the most, the one he had earned the last leaf for. Titled , ‘Green, my best friend.’