Story Collection - Chaalbaaz

Tree of Life

The time was moving slowly but it didn’t mean anything to Juniper. She had seen time since ages and its pace didn’t affect her anymore. In fact, she had become used to the current pace and hoped that it remained this way for some time. After all, she could finally understand humans a bit due to this pace.

Humans were fast creatures. By the time Juniper understood something about a human, the person would change both physically and mentally. Fickle minded and fragile, that’s how Juniper had perceived humans since ever. This change of pace had helped her look at humans in a better light. Apparently, some of them can slow down and remain calm. Juniper kept looking at the individual sitting under her branches.

Rakesh had lost all sense of time. He didn’t know when was the last time he had left this place. He was tired of the world and decided to find its meaning before dying. Now, neither was happening. For some reason, his body was sustaining itself without any food and water. He wasn’t even getting tired. Just in a void! The only solace was the tree which was giving him company for the whole duration. He had not yet started talking to the tree, thank God for that. However, the tree was a companion in his journey to the truth. However long it took.

Juniper turned her branches slightly to get more sun. It helped her live. She did not understand how it worked but for some reason she felt tired without the sun. The human needed nothing. Earlier, Juniper used to think that humans needed to move so much to survive. She had seen glimpses of humans eating plants and other animals but this individual defied her understanding. ‘Was he different?’ Juniper thought. Maybe this wasn’t human but some new being different from humans. That made sense. Nevertheless, she was fine with trying to comprehend this being as well.

Rakesh had a million thoughts in his mind. He had thought meditating was going to be easy. Emptying the mind of all thoughts and focusing on a single point. Ha! He might as well start flying. Rakesh hasn’t opened his eyes for so long, sitting in the same position, but nothing close to an empty mind was happening. If anything, his mind was fuller. His imagination had start forming ideas and thoughts that he didn’t even understand. Ideas of humans flying in giant boxes, moving around in metal containers, and so many of them. When Rakesh had left his tribe to find the truth, he had known only 15 of his mind. 8 in his group and 7 in another tribe. He had expected more in other places but the idea that the whole world is filled with humans was absurd. Rakesh knew his mind had turned to mush. When he thought of logical problems like communication and travel, his mind was people talking on devices that aren’t connected to anything. Rakesh then tried to shut his mind. He wanted the answers to his questions and not succumb to madness.

Juniper had over the years formed a circle around the individual. She started doing it when he began to glow. It made sense as he radiated some thing as the sun. This meant she was never tired. This also protected him from other creatures, curious creatures who were fast, too fast for Juniper to react. The energy also showed her images that reflected some of the things she could glimpse in reality. The images were slower and helped her understand what truly was happening. Juniper didn’t understand how that was happening but she took it for granted now, as she took her own life.

Rakesh felt a sudden charge of energy. He didn’t know what it meant. He was tempted to open his eyes to see but the feeling lasted just a second. He decided that it was nothing. And then his mind went blank.

Juniper was getting attracted to the energy that the human was glowing with. She tried to touch him with her branch. A shock went through her and she went numb. Before her slow senses could comprehend, flashes of signals went through her. She began to grow faster and before she could stop or understand, the human was gone. She had devoured him. She felt a rush of guilt when a voice came from within.

“Are you God?”

Juniper couldn’t recognise the voice, never heard him before. However, she recognised the energy.

“No. What’s happening?” Juniper said fear pervading her voice.

Rakesh’s mind opened to a vastness. He couldn’t feel his body but instead felt infinite. He felt another presence too. Afraid but giant.

“Let’s find out.” Rakesh said and searched for the second presence.

Juniper felt his touch. It was soft and soon the two consciousnesses started to move around each other. Like a binary star, they moved and interacted. Years of knowledge passed, centuries of communication happened, all in a single moment.

Finally, Rakesh opened his eyes and Juniper could see everything.

“Are you sure this is the place?”

“Yes. This is the tree of life. It is said that this point here is the origin of life.” The girl replied.

“You really don’t think life began with this.” The boy laughed.

“You remember the earthquake 5 years ago. This tree was at the centre of it. And yet, everything five kms of here is like garden of Eden. And it’s growing. There is something incredible about this tree.” The girl said.

“Or something sinister.” The boy said shivering.

“Either ways, I’m going to find the truth.”

Juniper and Rakesh looked at the two individuals.

“5 years since we met.” Juniper sent to Rakesh.

Rakesh sent back warmth. He had spent more than 15000 years in search of the Truth. He found it not alone but with someone to share the knowledge as well. Without Juniper, his journey would have been a futile one.

“Hopefully, these two find the truth as well. Together.” Rakesh shared with Juniper.

“And hopefully, faster than us.” Juniper teased. Rakesh laughed and the two consciousnesses moved faster around each other.