What do we live for? – Reena Chattarji

Reena Chattarji is a trained teacher with years of experience.

Her hobbies include painting, writing and baking.


I don’t know when it was born, but today was the day it died. A tree – one I saw every day, morning, noon and night. One that grew up little by little before my eyes.

So close to my third-floor balcony I could almost touch it.

This is the first time its branches have blossomed with kadam flowers. No wonder it gleams, rain-bathed, sparkling in a ray of sun. A tremble in every leaf. As if it were saying, ‘Here I am.’

But, as the day waned, what did I see! A group of men attacking the tree. With all their might wounding the tree, like a gang of bandits with orders to destroy.

Agitated, I say, ‘What’s going on?’ My words fall on deaf ears. The bandits follow their orders speedily, very speedily. As if someone, unobserved, is on guard. As if from fear of some resistance to the work.

The afternoon is drawing to a close, the sun is sinking over the horizon, the tree with its memory of flowers is now fallen to the ground. Then, in the darkness of evening, piece by piece, the tall body of the tree is being cut into pieces. They know its price in the market.

Poor vital, speechless tree, all you wanted was to give your all, you never asked for anything in return! And yet you became intolerable to man, you were sacrificed today, senselessly, prematurely.

So often I thought rainy days would come in just this way, you would adorn yourself in countless flowers. In autumn you would shed your leaves, yet spring would surely come! Your prosperity was meant to enrich us. You would be among us, in all your glory, always.

I was wrong.

That all of us should be fascinated by the beauty of nature is perhaps too much to hope for, but to devastate it so mercilessly, to diminish it so grotesquely, on a trivial excuse, is this right?

Whiling away our days, keeping ourselves alive – is that all we live for?

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