Hi there! Welcome to my quest to explore beauty in the overlooked and share them with you.
As you know(I hope you do), I started a tale in TML-27, inspired by the shot I shared therein. This week’s picture brings an end to the tale, and if you have missed reading this mystical adventure, you can always follow up through ‘Story so far’ section below. And if the curiosity to see the world through my lens gets the better of you, all you have to do is to scroll down a bit and get to the picture! 😉
Story so far:
The protagonist is visiting her grandma’s when she ventures out to check out her kitchen garden. She is about to leave when weird things start happening, all attracting her to a mystical tree at the exit of the garden. From that moment, her life steers away from the normal course, tangling her amidst a world she had never expected to be a part of- a world full of mystery and strange happenings all encircling around ‘nature’ and its creations in despair. From standing blankly for about an hour in front of a tree, to driving a car filled with cobwebs, the omens don’t leave her side until she joins the scattered pieces encompassing the mystery of those puzzling events. Her subconscious shows her the truth through a dream which makes her connect the past events and draw a meaning out of them…. But what would she do next? Can she really help the tortured souls get a better life?
Dreams can be weird,
They can make you see and explore the depths of your subconscious,
They can make you behold those latent desires and wishes lurking somewhere at the back of your mind,
My dream had introduced me to a part of myself which knew the answers I had longed for all along, something my mortal body was not capable of holding or registering yet…
All I needed was to tune in.
It was a warm and sunny day, and driving amidst a calm environment, away from the over speeding traffic of the city, was a soothing change. The road to grandma’s home went through lush green fields , and the cool breeze hitting me through the rolled down window was a good distraction from upheavals I was afraid I could be facing in a few minutes time.
Finally, my destination came into view. I parked outside the modest house, my heart shuddering hard against my chest. But I calmed myself, going mentally through the basic plan I had made, which was to do some background research before acting upon anything. After realizing the connection between my dream and the events in grandma’s kitchen garden that day, the reality had dawned upon me as something my subconscious knew all the while I was madly trying to figure it out.
The tree stood in front of me as I marveled at what I had gone through in those forty five minutes I spent interacting with the mystical forces of nature. That bee I had seen had been trying to consciously knock itself at the tree when it got sucked inside. That web had been purposefully made around my ankle to prevent me going away before I heard her tale of woe. But why me? Simply because I was standing there admiring the beauty of nature or was it something bigger?
‘I do not think I will ever get a straight forward answer for that one, ever’, I told myself, my gaze shifting from the tree to the crawler at its bottom. ‘This is same as that climber along the staircase’, I recalled. Those had been my first steps to unraveling a mystery, just as this root with a climber, which had first caught my attention, had eventually lead me into into this. Those ‘upside down’ stairs had led to a room full of every wooden thing possible – just like this trees bark, apart from a waling girl with charred feet, a ‘honey-bee’ actually, whom I had interacted with! She was the one whose tale had brought me back to this place. I had offered to help! Did I want to be here? I do not think it mattered now, it wasn’t as if I could back out, nor will ‘it’ let me. Why else would it have saved that bee from suicide, like she had said. I was looking at the tree again, at the place I had touched it callous bark. I felt like toughing its bark again, but the fear our previous encounter had induced advised me to maintain a safe distance. My interaction with that emblematic aura had ended with the calls of my grandma worried for my whereabouts, Just like my dream was broken in the middle with my mother standing at main door, calling out, asking me to open it.
As I intently scanned the place,I knew I would never leave without doing all I could after what I knew, whatever I might think in frustration. I looked for any detail which could help, But there wasn’t any out-of-place object in sight. I looked for those poisonous flowers next but no planting had been done there, except for the spring onions. And that poisonous liquid could not be on its flowers because my grandma never used such things. She was more into ‘organic’ farming.
But then the mystery still was up. ‘If only that bee had told me where exactly she had been when her family died of poisoning…’, I thought, going over to grandma’s home. The checking of kitchen garden had only been precautionary, just to rule it out without a doubt. So now, there had to be something fishy going on somewhere in the radius of this house. As far as I knew, grandma had told me once about an organic farmer, residing nearby, who grew small quantities of vegetables and fruits and sold them to the residents in her colony. Though, he charged a bit on the higher side, everyone was willing to pay for fresh, pesticide and artificial ripeners free veggies. He had grown famous in the area with customers from nearby areas also flocking him. I did not know why, but all my hunches were pointing towards this man. Could his farm be that poison ground? His field would be visible from grandma’s terrace, which was where I was headed, but after meeting my dear granny.
“Surprise-Surprise!”, I announced, hugging her, as she stood at the stove in her kitchen. “I had to come for that missed lunch”, I said, which was partially true. Skipping grandma’s food was always big regret. The aroma of mixed vegetable being cooked was already making my mouth water. ‘I’ll be back when this is ready”, I said, dashing towards the stairs. Next, I was glancing down, hoping to see the suspect’s area of operation. His field was in the lane behind grandma’s and since that area she lived in was still had a majority of vacant plots, I could see his field and a his home alongside it. A person came into view, doing a chore at the fields, but I could not make out who it was or what he was doing. I heard grandma calling out for lunch and went back.
“Do you have to go to this farmers’ you told me about?”, I asked, keeping the dishes in the sink. “Yes, I have to, but why do you ask?”, she replied.
“I could take you, plus I would get a chance to look around”, I said.
Soon we were on our way and soon, I saw a raised wall along a field marked ‘organic farming’ and the farmers contact details. The farmer knew my grandma well, and greeted us as we entered inside. “She is my granddaughter”, granny said introducing me.
The farmer looked in his fifties, with a body which still radiated strength and vitality.
As grandma went over with him to purchase the vegetables, I got the opportunity to look around. There were mostly tomatoes and cucumbers growing in the area I was standing in. On my extreme left, I saw the farmer plucking the veggies straight from the field and packing them for grandma. Though, I could see no sign of agrochemicals nearby, I saw honey bees meandering around the tomato plant on my right. I advanced towards it and saw something which made me shudder. There were loads of dead ants lined inside the inner boundary of the feet tall brick structure the farmer had made to separating the fruit from other vegetables. And wasn’t that a bee lying right beneath the plant? My fear and doubts were confirmed. This so called organic farmer was not resorting to organic method of production after all. How else could there be so many dead ants there? That girl’s sobbing resonated in my ears. I could not help but glare at him, as he was busy weighing the vegetables.
Soon, another couple entered the field and greeted my grandma, as she strode towards me, the farmer following her with the vegetable bag in his hands.
“What kind of organic methods do you employ?” I could not suppress an urge to ask.
The farmer smiled and started on how they used green manure and pesticides which were natural and not synthetic. I calmly pointed towards the dead insects, and asked if his natural pesticides worked just like the artificial chemicals, killing the ants like this. He looked at it and a gleam of fear flashed in his eyes. “As far as I know, This seems to be a work of some poisonous chemical than any biological pest control technique”, I said, looking at him straight in the eyes. He had obviously forgotten to clean the mess up. Grandma bent down to look at what I was pointing at, and her horrified expression told me she had understood what was actually happening at this supposedly organic farm.
It being weekend, the people from that small area had started pouring in and while some were busy checking out the vegetables, some came up to us, probably to talk to the farmer. “I can’t fathom what type of and how much of these chemicals you are using and cheating people!” my tone had gone harsh by then. It worked to my advantage and now, people were listening intently over what was happening.
The farmer was by now both nervous and threatened. “How can you call me a cheat, when you don’t know a thing about how many efforts I put in growing this, organically! These ants must have died by the organic pesticide we use..” He was retorting when I cut him short.
“I know very well how these things work, and this is a case of poisoning. You are using these lethal chemicals and are not even trying to carefully use it for the intended purpose, because I can see how the innocent ones are getting trapped too!” I could not refer to what I knew about the bees beforehand but I knew I had to do what I could today. People had started looking at him with narrowed eyes.This seemed to be a great opportunity to teach the cheat a lesson.
“How can you do that when you promise pesticide free produce? Do you know how much harm that does to the environment and simply put, the plants and soil which absorb it. That thing sprayed directly can kill us too! It poison literally, in case you are forgetting!” My wrath was directed towards him with full force, when grandma clenched my hand and signaled me to stop. “I see you are indeed doing something contrary to what you promise, and I’ll make sure we look into this in the next society meet”, grandma said with authority. The area residents had formed a committee recently which looked into the development and welfare aspects. “You all are obviously overreacting, this is not what it seems to be..” the farmer said in a softer tone, defending himself when another person, a fierce looking man in his late fifties chimed in, “It would be better if that is the case, because otherwise you could loose all the customers we have referred to you.”
It was a good thing grandma had not yet paid for the veggies she had selected, because there seemed a little chance she was taking them home now.
We prepared to leave and some other people followed suit, as the farmer stood there, trying to come up with other theories of his innocence. ‘The word of his cheating would soon spread and that would keep him away from those things harmful ways to enhance his produce’, I thought.
As I opened the car door and sat down to drive, I felt a sudden pride in myself, a feeling of joy when you do something for others and it does good to the society and yourself.
I had seen a new side of myself today, a new found strength to bring about change, to speak up against something wrong. I did not need any superpowers to help, just some apathy and presence of mind worked for ordinary humans like me.
“He could have used Neem or mix of mineral oil, like he had suggested to me sometime back. It’s the greed of producing and earning more in a short span of time is what made him do this..” grandma said, thoughtfully. She was still shocked at the revelations.
“Hmm..Most probably. Greed has spoilt many a lives” I replied, parking the car outside her abode.
The adventure was not over yet, I still had some tasks to complete. I went over to the tree as grandma entered the house. There was no cobweb or trance pulling me towards it this time. It was just that I had to share this with my propeller. I put my palm at the same spot I had touched previously and closed my eyes. In all my consciousness, I spoke through the voice inside me. “I did what I could and if that farmer does not improve, you know how to call me or even grandma!” I chuckled and opened my eyes. Everything was just as it was before, no spiders or bees or talking trees. Just a feeling that helping someone in dire need could nourish our soul.
I walked to the house, smiling to myself. This feeling was worth everything I had missed and every stress I had endured. And the upcoming topping of grandma’s tea coupled with the waft of snacks I could smell was going to make it even better!
Author’s note: Thanks a lot everyone who appreciated this series and supported it from the start. I hoped you enjoyed the tale!