The Good Tree
Today, I stand tall. I stand tall above other trees, so verdant, with my branches stretching out wide and free. I stand tall, tall up in the sky, relishing the caresses of the wind. This is the day people stand in front of me, and exclaim, “Now this is a good tree!” Today, I look back at my past life of growth and I see it has not always been spring but seasonal. I have had to go through winter, sometimes long and hard winters. These were times testing, with the bitter and biting winds blowing in gusts to stun my growth or extract me to rot, and the blazing sun overhead. I have seen passion flowers, rose briars, clovers, and golden mangroves wilt and rot, bedevilled by the unfavourable conditions of winter. Yes, I am speaking about all the life obstacles that come in the way of our education and the glamour of the world that lures us away from studying. But I have stood still, firm on the ground I stand, resisting all odds and here I am, standing tall above other trees.
However, I am a tree and I owe a lot for growing up to this seminal moment of my life to elements and efforts put on me. First and foremost, I owe it to the elements that are so abundant that they are not given their due credit, but which nonetheless are essential to the lives of trees — air and sunlight. By air and sunlight, I mean the love and grace of God — as valueless as it seems owing to its being plenty, I needed it just like the air we breathe in the course of my odyssey. This day would have lived to be a dream had it not been for His setting my ways right.
I owe it to the gardeners who planted me and raised me up with dedication and love. They have suffered their body and spilled sweat over me, cultivating the earth for me to grow up and attending to my needs and plucking out the weeds lest the field grows into weeds and cause my inhibition ever since I was a seedling. And in their prayers, they shade a rain of tears for my well-being and success. I have been showered with and thrived on the sweat of their prayers all year round. I am referring to my parents. Everything I am and I shall ever be, I owe to them.
I am not like other trees. I am — different. You see, I have not thrived with only sweat and tears. My magnificent verdant look, succulence, sappiness, thick trunk as I stand tall this day bears testimony that there is more to me than being just sweat-and-tears nourished tree. I have drunk and still drink blood — and that accounts for my phenomenal growth. Yes, gruesome as it seems I am bloodsucking tree. I am speaking about the blood all the martyrs of my country shed for our motherland. You see, I am part of the big Dream they fell for — that I should learn freely in free Eritrea. They envisioned this day, with me in black gown and this brought smile on their faces, warmed their hearts, enabled them to bear the unbearable struggle and bring freedom. And so, do not be flabbergasted when I say I have sucked their blood to be in this state because every inch of the good earth of this country abounds in their blood and I press my mouth against it and suck the blood. They are now in Heaven, smiling down at me with tearful eyes of ecstasy to see the seedling they nourished with their blood grow up to be promising good tree. I shall endeavour to keep the smile on their faces, live on to make them happy for that is the least they deserve. This is the moment I pledge to them that I shall put the cause they fell for before my life and bring our motherland off ignorance, poverty and disease.
This stage that I have reached, however, is not the paramount of growth. I am merely ready for production — not given any fruit yet. All I can say at this point is my fruit shall be for the people. They will not go to the people who have not put any effort on me, no matter how much these people pay for them. Today, I take the oath that I will not be a tree whose fruits are devoured by aliens but enjoyed by its own people.
There is yet long way to go. I am going to start producing alright, but I should remember life is not always spring. I will live to go through winters in this seasonal world we live in. Sometimes these winters can be long and severe, but I should not lose heart for “If winter comes can spring be far behind.
Source: Eritrean Profile Newspaper
Author — By: Gebriel Alazar (2010 English Graduate, Mai Nefhi)