Building a metro is a good thing, I suppose. Maybe it will actually make it easier to get around in the city and reduce traffic congestion and pollution. But there must be some other way of doing it. This is just heartbreaking. Is there no voice in this whole city powerful enough to prevent this?
I have written before, long, long ago, of my own personal Garden of Eden. It was the idyllic garden of my childhood, where every conceivable kind of fruit tree stood, and none was forbidden. I must have spent at most six years of my childhood in that house, with that garden, but it defined the way I relate to trees – and by extension to nature – for good. I remember once, running a fever of 103, bundled up in my warmest sweater on a mild day, clamouring to be let out; and when I was finally let out, I headed straight for the shady depths of the litchi tree. I remember sitting under the angular, white-barked guava trees, slicing green guavas with a blunt knife and rubbing them with black salt and gobbling them up fresh, without even the benefit of a quick wash first. It was the Garden of Eden – why wash the fruit?
Trees are friendly people. Before I knew anything about photosynthesis and carbon dioxide and oxygen levels in the atmosphere, I knew that trees were good to have around. They provided a cosy, leafy, shady haven in any kind of weather; and at the right time, they provided various types of delicious, sweet, juicy, cool fruit. They were wise and cool and steady as grandparents, warm and inviting and loyal as best friends. They never disagreed with you or scolded you or laughed at you. They were, in fact, almost as valuable as the imaginary friends I shared them with.
But now I’m all grown up; and though it still feels like murder, I force myself to accept that at times it is necessary to cut down trees, in the interests of our selfish, modern, urban lives. In the usual greedy way of the human race, we need more space for our roads, our houses, our offices, our hotels. But Lalbagh is THE botanical garden of Bangalore. Is there really no other way to create our precious metro by going around it. Do we really have to take one thousand eight hundred trees down for this? With all our science, technology, creativity, and every other kind of skill available to us today, can we find no way around this small, tiny island of greenery, nature, beauty? Really?