Table of Contents
According to Rabindranath Tagore, who wrote this narrative, the story of man occurs in the epilogue of the history of all forms of existence in the universe. We also see traces of diverse animal life among the life around us. The quality in us that we refer to as “human” is actually the one that levels and integrates all the animals, putting the cow and the tiger in the same pen as us and the snake and the mongoose in the same cage.
It binds all the chords in its existence into a musical form, much like a raga, so that they may no longer compete with one another. However, it must be acknowledged that a particular chord might have its own significant impact.
A Lifetime Companion
Plants dominated Balai, the motherless kid of the author’s brother. Balai developed the tendency of being quiet and gazing outdoors, much like plants do, since he was a little child. His whole body seemed to hear the pitter-patter of the rain. He exposed his body to the midday sun’s rays as he went around the rooftop. He was not a chatty kid. He calmly peered out of his broad eyes at the natural world around him. He was once escorted to the hills by Tagore. He liked the mountains because he could roll down the grassy hill and feel the grass tickle his skin.
When he walked to the woods, he would spot people that looked like his departed grandparents among the trees. Because of this, he became very furious when people flung stones at the branches to steal fruits or picked flowers from them. But he was unable to express his worry to others around him, who merely laughed at him and even teased him by mistreating trees.
Unexpectedly, the cutting of the grass saddened him the most because he had witnessed many miracles in the grass. Even though he knew she wouldn’t understand why he wanted the worthless weed to flourish, he would occasionally urge his aunt to instruct the grass-cutter not to cut the grass.
Empathizing With The Plant Kingdom
Balai understood that when plants were mistreated, other people did not experience the same suffering as he did. Because of this, the author claims that Balai belonged to the period, millions of years ago, when only plants lived on earth and they prayed to the sun in order to remain there forever. Balai once erred by displaying to the author a silk-cotton plant that was sprouting in the midst of the garden walk.
Balai had diligently cared for the plant and had planned to surprise his uncle by revealing it. But the conclusion was quite different from what Balai had anticipated. The author wished for the plant to be removed and thrown away because it was in the middle of the path. Balai begged his aunt to persuade her husband not to cut the plant after he did not listen to his pleas. His aunt was successful, but every time the writer looked at it, he wanted to cut down the plant since it kept blooming.
However, Balai had to leave the area to travel to Shimla with his father, who had returned from England after 10 years. After the passing of Balai’s mother, the writer’s childless wife raised Balai, the son of the writer’s older brother, as if he were her own. The aunt, who was grieving, would cherish Balai’s belongings and treasure his memories.
Balai wanted to see his aunt and uncle after two years but was unable to do so since he had to move to England to pursue a degree in engineering. He thus asked his aunt to mail him the picture of the silk-cotton tree. Upon asking her husband for a photograph, the aunt was shocked to learn that he had already chopped down the tree. The aunt was sad and went two days without eating since she saw the tree as a representation of Balai’s love. She remained silent for a long time with her spouse because she was both heartbroken and angry.
Thus, it is evident that not even the author was unable to comprehend Balai’s emotions. The aunt, who had shown him maternal affection, however, recognized it.