The Tree Series. The Old Lady and The Mighty Oak Tree
By Devi Bhakta & NMadasamy.
Main| The Journals | The Wandering Minds

Once upon a time, there was an old woman whose home sat in the shadow of a mighty oak tree. One day, the old woman walked into her yard and became very angry at the oak, she shrieked: you are a bad tree! You drop your acorns and leaves on my lawn! And all of these little creatures -- birds, squirrels, ants, a thousand or more creatures -- all live in and on you and they make a mess too and they pay no attention to me.

The oak said: I am sorry Respected Ma, please let me offer you my shade so the old woman stood in the shade, and it was pleasant for a while but soon she grow weary and said, "Is this the best you can offer me?" so the oak said, "Here, sit in my branches!" "Sit in my branches, respected Ma! Be a part of me!" and the old woman did, but soon that grew boring as well and she jumped down from the tree and holed up in her own house.

But each day she looked out the window, and watched the oak, steadily growing, with more and more creatures frolicking in its branches And she grew to hate the oak tree, with a hatred that burn her inside And she determined to hurt the oak tree But how? She thought of many ways. Sometimes she would put out birdseed to lure the birds away from the tree and into her home But most of the birds would only eat a few seeds, and then return to the oak. And she decided that these birds were the bad ones.

A few birds refused to ever go near her seed at all, remaining steadfastly loyal to the oak and she decided that these few birds were the worst ones. But some birds found nutrition in her seeds, and stayed with her. These birds, she decided, would be her soldiers in the war against the mighty oak.

"You are a bad tree! And I will destroy you yet!" "Maybe you can fool some of those birds and squirrels, but eventually they will see how right I am! And they will all come to my home, and you will be left alone! And then you will weaken, and then I will finish you off!"

And with that, the old woman would lift up her axe again, and continue her chopping Her incessant chopping went on for years As did her attempts to win over the animals in the tree.

Each Spring, when the young animals would arrive, some would inevitably be curious about the angry woman down below, angrily chopping at their tree and she would tell them, "Leave this tree, I am telling you! You do not know it like I do! It is a very bad tree, and some very bad animals live in it!" Some of the young animals would heed her warning and scurry away in fear -- but she noticed angrily, many more stayed. And oddly enough, they seemed to live quite happily and well. They found that it was possible to love both the oak tree and the old woman and this angered the old woman very much.

Years passed. She chopped and chopped then, one quiet afternoon, the oak tree spoke to her. And said, "Respected Ma, for many years I have watched you chopping at me. I have watched you trying to lure my friends away. And speaking badly of the birds and squirrels who have chosen me as their home..."

"Yes, yes!" the old woman shrieked. "And I'll continue to do so! There's nothing you can do to stop me!!!!" And she cackled madly.

"Very well," said the might oak. "Do as you wish. But may I ask you one question?"

Well okay ... said the old woman. But just one!

And the mighty oak said, "Why do you want to kill me?"

And the old woman paused. She had hated the oak for so long that she barely remembered why. Perhaps she could lay down the axe, and simply get on with her life. Then she realized: the oak trees, and the need for its destruction, were her life. And so she replied to the oak tree's question by saying, "Because you are here."

And as she picked up her axe and began chopping again, she wondered what she would do if the oak tree ever actually fell. The she saw that there were many other oak trees, stretching as far as her eyes could see. She smiled. She would always have something to do.

Eventually the story about the Old Woman and the Mighty Oak Tree reaches the village nearby and far out. The villagers came and they gather around to watch her. Some would just stand, others would bring in their mat to sit or lie down. Several others began to set up tents. As more and more came to watch, the enterprisings one began to set up shops selling all sorts of things. Pictures of the Oak tree, of the Old woman and her axe, and pics of her chopping the trees becomes the most sellable item. Then the local TV station heard about it, and decided to feature it in their daily news as live telecast. Everyday the crew members came to capture the scene of the Old Woman and her axe chopping the oak Tree.

The once quiet village have now transform into a busy and lively town. People from far out flocks into the village, to watch The Old Woman and The Oak Tree.

And then comes the environmentalist, When she saw the old woman chopping the oak tree, she contacted the "save the tree" organisation. They stop her and asked : "Respected Ma, Why do you want to kill this tree?"

She stop for a while and said "This is a bad tree. You stay away from this tree. You dont know this tree as I do. You want to save a tree, save other tree, leave this tree to me!. I must kill this tree!" and she continue with her chopping.

The crowd began to divide into several groups. Some started to feel sympathy for the old woman, and some for the oak tree and several others just not sure what to do. So they just stood and watch. Those who sympathise the old women began to see her as a symbol of determination. A small fragile women against a tall mighty oak tree.

The "save the tree" campaigner rally all their supporters to try to stop the old lady. We must save this oak tree and all other trees. We must stop this destruction to of our nature! They try to rally around the oak tree, but as soon as the old lady appear with her axe, she hurl it around them, and they move away. Nobody dare to come near her.

And so it goes .... years passed, people began to feel weary and fade away. Only a small crowd still gathers now and then to watch the old lady and the oak tree. Occassionally they will send news now and then to the village nearby : Ah! she got a new axe today. Still cursing and swaring at the tree?

Meantime the oak tree continue to grow. The little old women continue with her choppings and she too becomes like all the others little creatures that have come to seek shelter in the Oak Tree... just like the birds, the bees and the ants. They have got use to hearing the choppings and the swearing of the old lady that once she stop everybody began to get concern. She have becomes so much a part of the oak tree.

...... then one day two travellers came passing by. One of them have heard about the old woman and the oak tree.

The second traveller asked "what do you think will happen if one day the old lady drops and dies "

"... another one will come along and take over her place." remarked the first traveller. And they both continue with their journey.