Short Story - The Arjun Tree
Meera was a bubbly ten-year old who loved to spend her summers climbing trees looking for birds’ nests and trying to befriend squirrels. Her favourite tree was the Arjun tree  at the corner of her street.

One afternoon, as she ate her lunch, her mother said, “Meera, I think you should say goodbye to your tree friend today.”

Meera stopped, her hand halfway to her mouth. Seeing her puzzled expression, her mother continued, “I heard that a few trees on our street corner are due to be cut down today.”

“Why?” Meera burst out. She felt as if the trees were part of her life.

“There’s a supermarket coming up and the builders feel the trees will block their store from being seen by everyone.”

“But my favourite tree grows there,” cried Meera. “How can they cut down trees like that? They have life too! They breathe and sleep just like we do!”

And before her mother could say anything, she ran out of the house.

Meera reached the Arjun tree and gently touched its smooth whitish bark. Quickly, she climbed a low branch and settled on it. Her tears started falling, and she hugged the tree.

“I’m so sorry,” she whisp-ered, “They’re going to cut you down.” Meera saw the supermarket that was ready for business across the street. She snuggled possessively against the trunk of the tree.

She counted the bird nests as she usually did. There were four, and one little bird was building a fifth.

A squirrel paused for a moment as it ran up a tree branch and chattered at her for going its way. She stayed there for a long time, then patted the tree and got off. She went home and fell into a restless sleep.

When she woke up, her mother came into the room. “I have news for you, dear.”

Meera wasn’t really interested but she waited.

“I called the secretary of our colony association,” her mother continued. “And he agrees that our trees are very valuable. He’s promised to talk to the builders and an environment organisation and ensure that no trees are cut down.”

Meera couldn’t believe her ears. A happy smile broke out on her face and she hugged her mother tight. She was grateful that she had many more years of climbing her beloved trees.

-Annie Besant Jon

Teacher's Corner:

Organise a visit to your local zoological park or sanctuary for your class. It will be great fun, and will give you a chance to learn about flora and fauna together. You will find plenty of trees, birds, insects and animals, not just inside cages but in the park as well.

Take along a tape recorder and record interesting birdcalls, animal and insect sounds. Once back in school, play them and see who can identify them!


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