Sunday, Jun 30, 2024 22:45 [IST]

Last Update: Saturday, Jun 29, 2024 17:11 [IST]

The Big Oak Tree


Bhale was a young boy of almost fifteen years old who was always a joy to watch as he was always in a jovial mood, always singing songs, always running around, and volunteering to help and give his helping hand to whatever I was doing. His hobby was to go to the forest and collect edible mushrooms, ferns, and other herbs.

He lived just a few meters from my house with his elder brother Nakul and Nakul’s wife whom we all referred to as Bhawju (sister-in-law).

Both Nakul and Bhawju were hard-working couples yet they always fell short in their savings and the number one reason was they both had a habit of drinking Raksi (local village wine). Their main source of income was farming, cultivation of makkai (maize), Iskus (Squash), Alaichi (cardamon), adhuwa (ginger) and other vegetables.

They always failed to sell enough to earn enough and when asked what happened with their crops or how much did they sold they always complained that monkeys ate them.

During winter times we could hear them whistling, yelling, and shouting accompanied by the incessant barking of their three dogs’ kale (black), shete (white), and pangre (shade of different colours) it was a sign that they were chasing monkeys that used to come in throngs to feast on their cultivation.

Whenever monkeys intruded on their field and whitewashed their crops it was then Bhale would always come for their financial aid. Bhale used to look after two cows, milk them every day keep some amount for them, and also gave us a certain amount of milk, and the rest he used to sell at Diary farm.

Bhale loved my company and I too liked his. He loved to travel with me to the deep forest whenever we got a chance and when we used to travel together one thing that he loved about me was stories, all sorts of stories, the story of Bhanmanchey (yeti) but mostly ghost stories (let me be honest most of my stories we made up stories, my figment of imaginations) but poor Bhale the innocent that he was listened it with rapt attention and believed it all. He was a good listener.

Whenever it was Bhale’s turn to narrate stories, he always used to tell me about the big oak tree that stood tall and handsome, imposing and grand in appearance, at the edge of the hill lock. The reason that Bhale always used to talk about this oak tree was it was planted some sixty years ago by his great-grandfather. This tree was gigantic some thirty feet in height.

Exhibiting beauty and elegance in its form and branches it had stood tall and firm against all odds, frosty winter, torridness of summer, torrent of rain, pelting of hailstorms, tempest, and many other climatic and calamity challenges.

Due to the enormous size of the tree and considering the fact how old it was with a sense of wisdom and history most of the villages even used to worship it and used to consider it as the deity guardian of Singbongdera village.

This tree was and still is a heritage for the villagers with dignified and regal it had provided shelter not just to fatigued travellers but also to a myriad of birds, animals, and insects. People in surrounding areas even used to call it an Oak tree village. It had indeed become a village a landmark.

I have many childhood memories associated with the tree and I consider myself very fortunate to have seen the tree, felt its huge trunk, and even climbed on its wide-spread branches. Legend had it that if someone tried to dirty the tree or even its precinct that person would be cursed by a tree and would fall sick or succumb to serious injuries and if we were to worship it or treat it with respect his or her life would be blessed and will progress in life.

One day I saw a big black dog called Bhalu piss on the tree and just another day we were informed by forest chaprasi that Bhalu was killed by a Leopard. Now it’s up to the readers to analyse whether it was a coincidence or a curse of a tree.

Man Kumar was a milkman and he would always offer some milk on the trunk of a tree later he went on to establish his dairy farm was it a blessing or Man Kumar’s hard work well let’s keep it as a mystery.

Many even considered this Oak Tree as Kalpavriksha (wishful one). Innumerable people had told me that their wish was fulfilled when they had prayed underneath this tree.

I used to see students always approach the tree and pray during their exams but none revealed to me whether their wish was fulfilled.

Once I asked Bhale what he had wished for he just smiled and just to be honest every wish has been fulfilled.

“Can I ask for money?” I asked him “It’s really up to you and the individual” he replied.

The next few days I didn’t see him therefore I went to his house and asked his brother Nakul.

“It’s been a few days I have not seen Bhale where is he? Hope all is well”

“Oh! He left for Kathmandu to work there” Nakul replied.

“Was that one of his wishes that he had wished before the Oak tree?” I asked Nakul “Well I have no idea; you know he never shares anything” Nakul replied.

Well since that day I have never met Bhale. Sometimes I used to visit Nakul and ask him the whereabouts of Bhale “he is doing well and will return soon” he has been answering me to date.

One fine morning I got up early and before rays of the sun engulfed the Oak tree I went near the tree and sat underneath it. I silently prayed for five things. Times fly quickly isn’t it almost eighteen years now as I write on this tree.

Readers few things to note here I am writing this story sitting right under this Big oak tree and secondly readers must be very anxious to read whether all those five wishes have been fulfilled or not am I right? And regarding Bhale, well if I do happen to meet him, and I shall ask him and let you all know about whether it was his wish that he had wished for or not.

Well as of now I am not going to reveal it. It’s up to you all to guess whether my wishes have been fulfilled or not. Sorry, but sometimes keeping something secret can make our life more adventurous, and yes if you want to visit that tree well you can contact me via my email. Adios!





Sikkim at a Glance

  • Area: 7096 Sq Kms
  • Capital: Gangtok
  • Altitude: 5,840 ft
  • Population: 6.10 Lakhs
  • Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 to over 28,509 ft above sea level
  • Climate:
  • Summer: Min- 13°C - Max 21°C
  • Winter: Min- 0.48°C - Max 13°C
  • Rainfall: 325 cms per annum
  • Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi