The Autobiography of a Lime Tree

I was a tiny seed and I found the ideal place to bury myself in. Softly and slowly I broke through the soil to be a little sapling. I grew quietly, not bothering anyone. I became a bush with dark, green leaves and plenty of thorns. The path was narrow and everyone who passed by got pricked. That was when I got noticed — you know, do something naughty and believe me you will draw all kinds of attention.

I was almost uprooted, however, the female human plucked a few of my leaves, crushed and smelt them and realized I was a lime tree in the making. I heaved a sigh of relief and continued growing. At times I was given a painful pruning. Ouch! Didn’t they know that it hurt? I began to understand that I cannot take freedom for granted and grow wild. Pruning taught me my limits and boundary lines. I realized that this is a good suggestion for humans too, ‘freedom with limits’ with a dose of correction when needed.

I was about 5 years old and had grown to about 8 to 10 feet in height. I could sense a feeling of impatience for me to bear fruit. One day these humans saw a small lime tree growing in a pot but laden with limes. I heard them saying that I was useless, a good for nothing because I had not borne any fruit even after 5 years. (If they had searched on Google, they would have found out that it takes 3 to 5 years and sometimes up to 8 years to bear fruit).

Cut it down they said. Actually, they are not so hard hearted and decided to give me another chance, — but you know what, I had quietly flowered and had limes hidden in my thick foliage. There was great joy, but I was upset. First they were impatient — I was also surprised. She is a mother, a teacher, a trainer and grandmother and should know all about readiness. How could I have fruit when I was not ready? It is like making a child write before their finger and wrist muscles have developed or making a child go for IIT coaching when they are in the 8th standard itself.

As though that was not enough, I was compared — Imagine that! I was compared to another lime tree. I definitely know that two lime trees cannot be similar, we are unique. I need to be valued for my uniqueness and so do all plants, animals and human beings.

I decided to work very hard to do what I had been created to do and so the fruit was bountiful. All the humans admired me, even people walking on the road. I was introduced to everyone as ‘Our tree of joy’. Very smart! I know the female human wrote an article about me for ‘Teacher Plus’ and I was called ‘The Thorny, Prickly Tree’. Labels! Labels! Labels are for brands.

I am sure you will like to know what brought about this change in attitude. Success! Nothing succeeds like success.

I am also being appreciated for my generosity and kindness. My branches are home to a couple of tiny birds. They built their nest quite precariously I thought, in one of my branches. There were two little ones too but they have flown the nest now, — but, that is life! I miss them. Spiders like me too and spin beautiful webs. Butterflies are busy doing their job of pollination very effectively — I was full of flowers again. I could sense the expectations for another bumper crop but the rains are playing havoc and knocking down my flowers. You tell me, how can I have a bumper crop if the conditions are not supportive. Everyone needs an environment conducive for growth, and not forgetting realistic expectations.

I overheard something about online classes for children. All very well for parents who can afford the devices, but what about the poor and marginalized children? Do they have the right conditions for learning? I sometimes see them flying and chasing kites and loafing around. Please level the playing field.

I have grown near the boundary wall. Some of my branches hang over the pavement. I cannot stop limes from growing there, so I have been providing Vitamin C to passers-by — very needed in this pandemic. I have to be fair to my humans — they have very generously given my limes to a lot of people — it seems my limes make very good lemon rice because of the strong aroma.

Come to think of it, I am happy that I took root here. I know that I will continue to be the ‘Tree of Joy’ for this old couple for many more years to come. Chances are I may outlive them!

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