The story of The Cherry Tree by Ruskin Bond revolves around the concepts of duty, responsibility, perseverance and pride. It has narration in the third person.
The Cherry Tree Summary
Rakesh, the protagonist, digs the ground with a spade and plants a seed of a cherry tree his grandfather’s garden in Mussoorie. The plant is in the corner of the garden protected from wind and snow. However, soon Rakesh forgets about the seed and gets busy listening to his grandfather’s stories and reading newspapers for him.
Meanwhile, the seed continues to grow. Winter passes and spring arrives. One day, Rakesh is observing the bird when he suddenly notices the plant which has grown into a twig with one or two leaves. He realizes the cherry that he had planted a year ago.
Rakesh shows his grandfather the cherry twig. Grandfather advises Rakesh to take care of the plant now and water it Rakesh also circles the plant with some pebbles for protection.
Now, Rakesh’s interest is stoked. Every morning he observes the plant’s growth but is left disappointed with its slow rate.
Now the monsoon season approaches and the cherry plant grows faster and it makes Rakesh excited. The following summer Rakesh goes home to his parents. He works on his farm and helps his parents in sowing and planting crops.
By the end of the monsoon, he is back with his grandfather. He has grown up and so has his cherry tree. It has come up to his chest. Rakesh is getting more attached to his tree now and waters it every day.
Once Rakesh witnesses an insect on the tree but he doesn’t try and swat it away as he considered it the tree’s first friend. Next, he sees a hairy caterpillar feeding on the leaves of the tree. Rakesh hauls it and places it on some dry leaves to protect the cherry leaves.
When winter arrives, the plant bulges under the weight of the falling snow. It snows so much that the road from the valley gets covered with snow for several days. Grandfather grows frustrated because he could not get his newspapers as the roads are blocked. Consequently, his stories also have sad endings now.
Rakesh turns nine in February and the cherry tree turns four years. It almost reaches up to his head now. One day, his grandfather sees some pink flowers on the cherry tree. For Rakesh, it is nothing short of a miracle. The next spring there are more flowers.
Birds and bees start drinking its nectar and the tree grows taller than him. Soon, Rakesh turns 10 and the cherry tree turns 5. Rakesh starts enjoying books along with his grandfather’s stories. There are more birds came and even more flowers.
Finally, the next summer brings the first fruits. But when Rakesh eats them, they were sour instead of sweet. Grandfather consoles Rakesh and tells him that the cherries would develop into tastier fruit the following year.
One evening Rakesh asks his grandfather about the thing that made the tree. His grandfather replied that the efforts they put in to nurture the plant made it special. Rakesh admires the bark and leaves of his cherry tree, his own creation.
Rakesh was so mesmerized by it that he considers it to be a manifestation of God. He imagines that it was what God must feel about his creations.
The Cherry tree is a symbol of survival and it escapes almost eaten by a goat and being cut with the grass. Just as human beings struggle in life so too does the cherry tree. But the cherry tree shows resilience and the ability to withstand adversities.
The bond between Rakesh and the tree is of care and nurture, just like a family who is caring for each other. He never abandons his tree even when the conditions become tough which highlights the dedication it takes to develop strong and binding relationships of affection and compassion.
Rakesh is a guardian to the cherry tree. He fulfils his responsibility and in the end, is rewarded for his efforts. The cherry seed matures into a fruit-bearing tree just like children grow into adulthood and look after their parents in old age.
Furthermore, Rakesh’s grandfather fulfils his responsibility towards Rakesh in advising him about living a healthy life. He is the light that Rakesh needs to walk on the right path in life. He is nurturing Rakesh just like he is nurturing his cherry tree.
Another theme of the story is the ability to start something new and help it to reach its potential. Through toil and determination, Rakesh helps the cherry tree to grow stronger. Rakesh feels proud of the cherry tree just like a parent is proud of his/her ward.