The tree and the lady
Posted on February 23rd, 2021

Laksiri Warnakula 

She has been there for many years, living peacefully in the forest.

And one day the earth beneath and around her began to shake and tremble, making her very nervous. Then she saw: the man and his machine, the harbingers of her ruin.

And there she stood helplessly immersed in thoughts that were of extreme bewilderment, which quickly turned to great sadness: how could he? Doesn’t he or those who command him know that I am amongst the rarest, with only a very few of my relatives living in some other locations in the country?

May be he and those, who are above him don’t know or even if they do, would they care? So the great tree,  with such mournful thoughts was getting ready for the inevitable that would come soon. 

Then she heard the commotion. The roar of the machine abruptly fell silent. And came the voice ‘No. The tree stays’!

We all know what followed next, don’t we? 

And that particular ‘Crudia zeylanica’ tree was saved by the intervention of a valiant lady forest conservator, who was not afraid to face the political wherewithal, which was made even more lethal by copious amounts  of ignorance and stupidity of some others, who seemed to have no compunction in removing it to accomodate for an ‘express way’. And I wonder, in spite of the efforts of all concerned how long the tree can survive before the axe comes down, which I sincerely hope will never happen, a hope against hope.

Some say that changing the already completed design and the current work already in progress of the express way, in order to save the tree, might incur few billions. I am not a civil engineer, yet isn’t it a bit too high? And then how about the cost of building towers or the size of expenditure spent on building and maintaining numerous non-revenue-earning white elephants standing all around the country: products of whims and fancies of both past and present governors?

Now we know this wasn’t the first instance, when in a previous occasion too, the said officer stood her ground, while taking on the political might of another politician, who in the course of his argument with the officer also threw a phenomenally absurd and stupid question, (which by the way is not unusual anyway as far as this nincompoop lot is concerned), at her: ‘what is Oxygen for, eating?’ And then another from the same ‘Illuminati’ lamented: ‘why talk to media, all the time?’ Well leaving aside the questionable traits of some of our media channels, it is still the media or how else he proposes to get the message across to the public? Is he talking about going back to olden days, when an old van or a tractor doing rounds in the town or the village, with a loudspeaker tied to them blaring out music and whatnot?

And it is also quite disappointing to hear that some people are trying to belittle what the forest officer has done. 

I wonder whether this attitude/habit has now become a national trait: belittling and fault-finding instead of admiration and praise, when they are due? Remember the disparaging remarks made by some belonging to our political elite itself during the war: ‘Alimankada/Pamankada, Kilinochchiya/Madawachiya and Thoppigala/Gana kalawak’. So the lesser mortals taking a negative, unappreciative stance in situations like the one being discussed here, is not surprising.

Lastly, and in my opinion, the brave lady forest officer is a ‘David’ fighting the ‘Goliyaths’, who wouldn’t give a tinker’s cuss about the colossal damage, often irrereparable, is done to the environment in the name of development.

Laksiri Warnakula 

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