Where there’s a ‘will’, there are many ways

For, of all my possessions, the ones I am most proud of, and which give me most happiness, are the trees I’ve planted on my land in Purani Koti, near Mashobra. I, along with my sister-in-law Anjali, had bought about 6 bigha (little more than an acre) of land there in the early 2000s, and I decided to convert it into a little green oasis before the village was taken over by hotels and guest houses.

The latter has happened, but so has the oasis! I had the full backing of Anjali, who was keen to compensate for her otherwise Delhi-based (carbon) footprint, which is slightly bigger than Godzilla’s.

I did an enumeration of the trees on our land recently, and counted a total of 209, of both the forest and fruit varieties. An examination of old photographs reveals that there were only about 15 fruit trees when we acquired the land, so we have added almost 200 trees, and they are all doing well, the fruit trees are all organic.

The forest varieties comprise deodar, blue pine, robinia, horse chestnut, oak, weeping willow and chinar; the fruit variety are apple, pear (nashpati), cherry, plum.

I have no guilt in admitting that I have begged, bought, borrowed and stolen to get these plants from all corners of the state — from the Jalori pass, Tirthan valley, Manali. The greenery is now a haven for birds of more species than I can recognise, and we even have visiting species like parakeets, swallows, Himalayan magpies, pheasants and barbets at different times of the year. The bulbuls are permanent residents and have bed-tea with me and Neerja on our terrace every morning.

This, then, is the possession I really value, my own creation without any embedded advantage of birth, education or inherited wealth, something I can be proud of. I would like to consider this my real legacy, not only for my family but for mother earth. It feels good to leave one tiny part of this planet a better place than one found it. And it needs no will — just a dream!

All photos by author

Avay Shukla is a retired IAS officer and author of Disappearing Democracy: Dismantling of a Nation and other works. He blogs at avayshukla.blogspot.com

Leave a Comment