After four years, I looked forward to my road trip from Coimbatore to Trichy, especially the Karur-Trichy part. Lined with huge, old tamarind trees providing a natural canopy, it has been my favourite since I was a kid. I loved the way the trees raised their arms to cheer up the weary traveller by providing shade and beauty at the same time. Some of the trees would have been a hundred years old. For those who walked these roads or travelled on two wheelers the natural canopy protected them, especially from the fury of the summer sun. Oh, what a delight it was to travel on that stretch ? Many a time, a tender coconut had in the shade of the trees from a wayside vendor, the wind blowing soft accompanied by the chirping of the birds, tasted like elixir. And then, the friendly banter of travelers, who meet but just for a few minutes. That conversation, so little, so simple, yet so important in the big scheme of life. Finally when I hit the stretch, I was horrified. Not a single tree remained. They had been cut down for widening of the highway, a project glorified by the government, a four lane to help reduce travel time. The sun hit us with all her fury, but whither my old tree friends, I searched, not a bird in sight.
What's happening to us, mankind, I wondered ? When did we become so insensitive to nature, to our many fellow beings ? I closed my eyes, and played over and over again what my mind had captured in times gone by of the beautiful road unable to accept the cruelty of the present. I ruminated on the past, its glory, its beauty and wondered if generations to come will know life as I knew it, full of beauty and understanding of other beings.
What could be done, I questioned ? What can I, a lone person do to bring back the best of the past ? I felt defeated. How could I, a single person, fight against a mighty, heartless government looking at only financial benefits unmindful of the necessity to coexist with nature. Then realization dawned. I don't need to fight them. All that was needed was plant trees, on the road side. Surely, someone in ages gone by, had planted the trees. His hard work had borne fruit and given me and many like me warmth and shade. If only I could plant trees by the side, similar to what existed, similar to what someone in ages gone by had done. Yes, there lay the answer. There lay the solution.
The story of Thimmakka and Chikkanna motivates me. They planted trees on a 4km stretch and looked after them like they were their children. Wouldn't that be possible to replicate here, I wonder ? Yes, I live far away from Trichy today. But then, we could start a project. Get people interested in the project and start planting trees. Make it a community activity. Will it work out, I know not. But try I must.
I am reminded of the old story of the collective strength of individuals. Of how, the will and strength of individuals is multiplied manifold when they stand together. And stand together, we must to continue a legacy, a legacy of good, of kindness towards ourselves and our fellow beings on earth, sowed by our ancestors. Follow the footprints and leave ours in the sands of time, to be followed by another generation.