The High Dweller

I live high up. Higher then that dirt road you see below, the one that embraces the foot of this hill I call home. The stream of water that becomes so restless at the high rocky peaks, and rushes down to join the river of life below, is my lifelong friend. Water, my dear friend, has given me the gift of life. The green of my leaves and red of my fruits comes from its clear drops, so mild yet so potent. Every season when I am ripe, I offer a humble tribute of a fruit or two down to the water flowing to the river below, which I hope she benevolently accepts. Whatever offering I make to the mother river, however, in no way lessens my debt towards her. The more I give, the more I owe. It is she, the river of life, who gifts the entire hill with showers of rain and lets me spread my branches in search of new streaks of light. I see far, very far, to where this river joins course with other rivers of unknown source, and the joined flow fades somewhere in the distance beyond my sight. The thick mists of the sky has forever kept the secrets of the far land well guarded from meagre beings like me, who live to wonder of the unrevealed fantasies of the distant ever more.

Thus, here I seek joy in what I see near me, and make friends with the colorful birds that occasionally come to feast on my tender fruits. They promise to take my seeds to lands far and prosperous, where they will grow tall, even taller than me. The ants that crawl beneath my roots let me breath, and their busy movements seem yet so subtle to my touch that I cannot help but be amused. The unpredictable monkeys jump from one tree to another, at times breaking my twigs or an entire branch, but I grow back even fuller. It is this life that I lead on the thickness of this hill – which the humans below call by the name ” Broga”. When all the heat, the light, monkeys, and birds are subdued by the deep dark of night, and the tranquil moon mesmerizes and inundates all with its sheer beautiful silence – then it rains, giving this growth the churn that it craves, washing away all dirt of the living and inert alike, floats them away to reaches I will never know.

Broga is also the name of the river running down, and the hill gets its name from the mother below. When I was younger, I used to hear tales of a ferocious beast named ‘Buragas’ that roamed the hill tops, from which the name ‘Broga’ came. All those tales now seem so foreign, as the only beasts I see now are the occasional boars, monkeys, snakes and the likes. Today the real beasts are the ones staying down below, never quenched of their thirst of land and wealth of the jungle. Day by day , I watch as the green below turns to the color of fresh red clay, as the human beasts uproot one tree after another. May only the river of life know how many of my seed trees have been wiped by their hunger, as I wish to remain happy here under my own shade. After all, this hunger for growth casts its spell upon all. I soar as my roots achieve new depths and my shoots reach even higher air.

But then again, why should a mere tree like me be concerned with thoughts of sin and praise of the masters of the ground below, whose life I know not much about. I am the ruler of my own thoughts. I live here, high above the atrocities down below, and will continue to live on forever. Even when Mother Earth will have mercy on me and take me into her cradle, I will still live through my seeds that have found their homes in lands I shall never see. My life is in the growth of my rings and the color of my fruits, chirp of the birds and shed of my bark. Can the humans below ever take such life away from me?

Wait, what is it that I see, over there? That bright glow, that unmistakable color. Is it what I think it is? Yes, it must be! No other light can put to shame the glow of this moon, but that of a violent, red flame. The beasts below have set fire on the trees, and the blaze is getting brighter with every moment. Hundreds of years of life will perish tonight, in one dark moment, under one bright moon. Of course, I will go too, I see the flames climb higher up. But my own sorrow surely is not the sorrow of the forest, as I am only but a tree of this dense hill. I cannot speak for the birds, the water, nor the moon. The humans below will take my life away from me; their life and mine were written to be entangled this way.

Only one question lingers in my mind to ask the mother river below, the one who has given me this dear life. Why give this life of joy, if one day you were to take it away? Because surely life is not lived just for the sake of living, and fruits are not just for the beauty of their color. Who – does the river know? – has the truth of this world? Is my truth any better then the truth of the masters below? Or is there no truth at all? If there is no truth, then there is no absolute. Why live in a world which is only to be compared and not be grasped?

Come, fire, embrace me with your flames and show me your truth.


Avijit Chowdury

"Zeal without knowledge is fire without light." - Thomas Fuller, 17th century historian

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