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In a lot of stories, a woodcutter is always the hero. He helps out little girls in riding hoods and gets golden axes from ladies who rise from rivers. In real life, they are not different from paid killers. They do it for money and because they need to do it in order to survive. But at what cost?

The neighbours have moved out and the quaint old house is going to be torn down and replaced with a monstrosity of the sort I live in now. The coconut tree near the wall is being cut down this very moment, as I’m typing these words. They’ve cut the top off. It now looks like a headless chicken, only it is not running around in fear. It cannot. There’s a neem tree near the front gate. They might cut that next.

I’m no tree hugger, but it hurts to see beings that have co-existed with me dying such a slow, painful death. The coconut tree never made any impact on my life until now. I never acknowledged its existence. It was just there. Unimposing, always in the background. It never hurt anyone. Even when there was heavy wind, which is very rare, all it would do was sway very slightly and stop.

The neem tree is associated with a lot of good things for my grandmother and one bad thing for me. Veppilai Rasam or neem juice with tamarind. It was one of those things that you were threatened with as a kid.

Woodcutters, tree huggers, how does it matter? No matter what I do, they’re still going to cut it.

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One thought on “Chipko and Woodcutters

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