A leaf twirls and falls to the ground. Spinning, swinging, revoluting. An old leaf, almost brown, trying hard to stay back amongst the lot many friends it has perched on the branch. But it's time. Time to leave. Time to amalgamate with mother earth. In its lap. Sleep. Peacefully. And await the rebirth again, next spring, atop one of those branches. Green, cheerful, happy. The cycle shall continue.
Waiting to fall on the petrichor-infused earth, the leaf closed its eyes. But wait. It fell on top of something else. A little boy's open pair of hands. The boy had a cheerful face, a smile-laced hungry pair of eyes. Had he not eaten something for a long time? Is his soul tired? What shall he do now with an old leaf?
The boy took the old leaf lovingly and wrapped it around a small stone. Then tightened it with a string. The leaf understood now. He'd aim at the mighty tree. That was beyond his reach. There were some juicy fruits on the highest branches. But why did he tie the leaf with the string? Why not throw the stone itself?
The leaf was flung upwards from the cusps of his hand, tied to a small, jolly stone. The stone seemed to enjoy the flight. It laughed with a carefree joyous face while the leaf was too scared, it was not a slow-motion movement but a high-speed one. But it hoped it could whisper to the tree about the hungry little boy. To help him somehow, get hold of a fruit. But how?
The shot wasn't a bad one but nonetheless, not enough to move the fruit. The jolly stone did a curve and went back to the ground. The old leaf stayed stuck to the branch from where it had fallen. Who'd have imagined this?
The leaf was ecstatic. To be back, momentarily amongst old friends and companions. But it remembered the face of the boy. It shouted out to the tree, the core to listen to its plea. The mighty tree looked towards this sudden shout coming from one of its branches. He located it and asked for the reason. The leaf described the situation at hand. The tree started thinking.
How can I let the fruit drop on its own? I am powerless. I wish I could control something. The leaves who are my family, fall without me wanting them to. The fruits, they only fall once ripe, or else if someone plucks them. Oh, the little child, hungry and wanting something to eat. But what can I do?
The giant tree looked around. Not a trace of anyone else, who could've helped this little boy. The boy was now half seated, his head on the bark. Does he have nowhere else to go? No family? No one to feed him? Where did he come from? What may have been his circumstances?
Pin-drop silence. Nothing except the advent of some wandering clouds. The tree knew suddenly what needs to happen. Winds. Strong winds. That'd drop those almost-ripe fruits to the ground for the kid.
And it did. A sudden gush of wind whispered through the tree. How are you?
The tree whispered back. I need you to blow with more intensity.
But that'll damage you.
I know. But for this little kid, I am ready to take the risk.
And so the wind blew. With all the might. Everything it had.
The tree opened its eyes. Devastation around. Lots of leaves lying in and around. The branches looked bare. An eerie silence engulfed the place for a minute. Then the tree looked down. All the fruits had fallen. The little boy's eyes shone with delight.
The old leaf. The devastating wind shook it off the little hook of the branch where it stayed for a momentary moment. As it fell swirling and swinging to the lap of mother earth one more time, it saw that little kid, happily gathering the fruits, and taking a bite of one of them. That filled its heart with joy. That's what it wanted. The kid getting fed. Now it can fall in peace.
Somsubhra Banerjee, 2022