Once upon a time there was a huge mango orchard with many, many trees in it. There were many kinds of mangoes in it; mangoes of many shapes, sizes and color but they were all very beautiful. And juicy. In the same orchard it so happened there was also a little chickoo tree standing in one corner. Have you seen a chickoo fruit ? It’s round and small and brown and not very pretty. When it is young it’s fruits are very hard. Yes, it’s not a very good looking fruit even though it is very sweet when it is ripe.
Anyway, let’s go on with the story. The poor chickoo tree was very lonely. None of the mango trees would talk to him. The mango trees were friends with each other but whenever the chickoo tree tried to talk to them they would tell him to go away. They would laugh and say, ” Look at you ! So small and round and brown. And look at us. We are golden in color and so shapely. You don’t fit in our crowd. Don’t you try to come near us. Just run away. ” Well, you know very well trees can’t run so the chickoo tree would just stand in his corner with a long face and feel very sorry for himself. How he wished he had a few friends. He was very, very lonely.
One day, a party of humans came in to the orchard for a picnic. They sat down under the shade of the mango trees and eat and drank. Then, they decided to have some tea. So, they collected some dry sticks, added some dry grass and lit a fire. They made tea and everyone, except the children who had some hot milky cocoa, had tea. Then, they put out the fire and went away.
But, the fire was not quite out even though they had stamped on it. Just a little spark was hidden under the twigs and that was enough to light the fire again. Very soon, the fire started spreading . It started burning the grass and the dry leaves on the ground. Very soon it would reach the mango trees which , when dry, can burn down very fast.
The mango trees saw the fire and were frightened. They didn’t know what to do. If even one mango tree caught fire the whole orchard would burn down. The mango trees started shouting, ” Help ! help! Save us ! ” but there was no one around to hear them. The watchman of the orchard had gone home for lunch. By the time he would come back the orchard would be on fire. What a disaster. And anyway who can hear the sound of trees calling for help except other trees. No one can understand them.
And so it happened the little chickoo heard the mango trees shouting for help. He saw the fire too and understood the great danger . He thought to himself, “It’s true that the mango trees do not want to be my friends. They are also very rude to me. But, we are all trees. So, I must do something to save them.” Can you guess what the chickoo tree did to save the mango trees? You know trees can’t run or shout for help because they are rooted to the ground and no one can understand them. Then, how was the chickoo tree going to save the mango trees ?
Did I not tell you that the chickoos’ fruit are very hard when they are young. So what the chickoo did was to drop all his fruits to the ground at one go. There was a shower of chickoo fruits hitting the ground. When the fruits hit the ground they made such a racket ! I cannot even describe the sound of hundreds of chickoo fruits hitting the ground at one time, just like a hail storm. It was so sudden and noisy that all the birds flew up in shock and started to squawk ! The crows went, ‘caw, caw’, the birds went, ‘cheep, cheep’ and the squirrels started chattering. Even the few goats who were roaming around started bleating . Hearing them , the cows started lowing, “moo, moo” the stray dogs started to bark and the cats started mewing and hissing . It was a very noisy event.
A few passerbys heard the sound of the animals and looked towards the orchard. They saw the plume of smoke above the trees and knew, at once, that the orchard was in great danger. They started shouting. Some of them ran to get the watchman. Some ran to get buckets of water. And some called the fire station. Everyone got together and put out the fire. And then went away.
After the people left there was a long silence in the orchard. All the mango trees were thinking about the sacrifice the chickoo tree had made to save the mango trees by throwing all his fruits to the ground. He had nothing left. The mango trees waved their branches and saluted the chickoo tree. Then they said , ” You are very special chickoo tree , we are just ordinary in front of you. Will you be our friend ? ” The chickoo tree was very happy to hear this. He said, ” I will be honored to be your friend.” Now, the chickoo tree was never lonely. He had many, many friends who loved and honored him for his good qualities and did not care how he looked. Yes, it is what you do for others that is important, not how you look.
( This is a short version of the story for when you are too sleepy to hear long stories and your parents are too tired. But there is a very long, long story for the weekends which I will be writing very soon for you !)
The inspiration for this story is Col. Bhagwan Shukla who, like the chickoo tree, gave up all the fruits of his action in order to save the ‘mangoes’
Shipra Shukla Collected Tails of Jungle Land