Before my grandpa passed away, he gave me one of his painting of a withered tree which he said was his self portrait. He has always loved painting that when he became bed ridden due to stroke that soon took away his life, he didn’t stop but used his remaining strength to create a masterpiece. ‘The Withered Tree’ has been his favorite and unfortunately his last too.
One night when I couldn’t sleep, I crept into his room and found him weeping silently while looking at his lonely ceiling. The tears slowly trickling from his eyes reflected bitterness and contentment at the same time. Though I couldn’t understand I couldn’t help myself to shed a tear for him. As I turn away hoping he didn’t see me enter his bedroom, he called my name and I froze, afraid I’ve just intruded his privacy. But he only called me to join him. The moment I asked why he’s crying, he asked if it’s okay to tell me a story. I love stories so much so I nodded, allowing myself to be absorbed on whatever’s paining him at that moment.
He said, Once, there was a fruitful tree, young with sturdy trunk and firm branches. Every twig of which was filled with dazzling green leaves swaying with every passing breeze. It stood in the middle of an abundant place where it grew up. Flowers, grasses, and flowering shrubs were scattered about. Sometimes, the sky would bring drizzles to water it and there’s also a lake where its roots would drink from, like a real paradise. In exchange to all the comfort it experienced, the tree offered every help it could give to its fellow. Giving shade to those who needed, protecting saplings from hard rain and providing people with food and shelter. The tree was happy for helping others. Thinking perhaps that it’d be remembered the time it’d be his turn to be taken cared of. But that didn’t happen.
Years passed and hundreds of his leaves have fallen being replaced by new yellow green ornaments from its old body. Season by season, it staggers to weakness as drought has spread on the land. The tree cried for help but the heavens refused to shed a drizzle for the the dwindling leaves. People forgot about it entirely, as well, until the tree withered in despair. One night, it felt that the time has come to end its agony. The tree shouted in anger at the heavens and everything around it, making the once beautiful place shake. It resented everyone who forgot about all it has done for them, until its trunk bent facing the ground. Immediately, the heavens opened and thousands of white lights protruded out, along with a melody- a beautiful one. The tree jerked up feebly as music and meteors showered it, finally knowing that the planter never forgot him.
Written in response to Sadjie’s picture prompt, Keep it Alive: What do you see #132 – May 09, 2022
#What do you see