“When all the trees are gone, then, you will regret having cut them down.”
That thought ran through my mind when two men walked towards the apple tree that I was leaning on and pushed me ruthlessly away from it. They began cutting it down, as I stood away from them, watching as they cut down the tree.
The tree fell with a thud. The men sat on it and had their lunch and left the tree lying there when they were done.
I turned my back and ran off to my backyard with eyes filled with tears and a dry teardrop on my right cheek. A few moments of sobbing later, I walked into the house, switched on the television and I was shocked to see that the news was displaying images of deforestation yet the news reporters both had broad smiles.
I ran to my room and jumped onto the bed.
I screamed into my pillow.
Someone knocked on my door and I quickly wiped away my tears. I opened the door slowly and thank goodness it was my mother who heard me crying from her room.
She was the only person that understood me, a bit.
She sat on my bed and we had a little talk.
“What’s wrong Betha, your eyes are red?” I turned away, ashamed to reply, “Betha I am talking to you, what’s going on?”
“It’s nothing,” I replied. She continued to ask me the same question until I finally answered her.
“Okay, mom!” I yelled, “I don’t understand why they cut down all those trees, a-and leave most of them just lying on the ground. It’s- just not right.”
“Well, dear,” said my mother, “do you expect them to cut down the exact number of trees they need?”
“But…” I said.
“But what Betha?”
“They cut down the apple tree and just left it lying on the ground, now I have to sit on it instead of using it as a shade!”
My mother just looked at me and wiped away my tear with her thumb.
“You will only realize why we cut down trees when you grow older,” my mother said and left my room. My instincts kept on telling me that when I grew up, it would be way too late and the trees would be gone. No matter how much I kept telling myself that humans would one day stop cutting down the trees, it never happened.
The only thing I would see on the news was deforestation, deforestation just to fulfill human needs, not being aware of the effects. What I never understood was how they never saw how the earth’s future would be like.
I went through a lot of bullying at school and was classified as one of the nerds for just mentioning the word trees. I sat alone but got used to it eventually. My classmates gave me names such as ‘Tree girl’ and ‘Leaf kid’.
My parents, especially my father, thought I was mentally disturbed because I would wake up to hugging a tree every, single, morning, appreciating it.
I knew it was creepy and was probably the reason why I was a victim of bullying.
My mother and father, on the other hand were very successful businesspeople with thousands of followers but made money from owning businesses that had to do with the cutting down of trees.
I was the opposite of what they expected me to be when I was born.
I did not have a very strong relationship with them. I hated them because of their jobs but loved them for their funny personalities at times.
What made me despise my father more than anyone else, was that he got most of the trees in our yard cut down and left only one which he would get cut down later.
I considered myself different from other people in those days.
I felt like I was the only human that cared about the trees.
Many people used to say that I was the creepiest person in the neighborhood just because I had a strong liking for trees. My own parents visibly gossiped about me to our neighbours.
“Betha dear, come and have your lunch!” my mother called out from the kitchen one afternoon.
I went there only to see a deliciously cooked bird in my plate. It was seasoned with some of the best spices.
Anyone who looked at it would think of taking it from the plate and eating it up, but I just thought of the bird that lost its tree.
“I’m good, is there a cold drink by any chance?” I asked politely.
I had chosen to be a vegetarian but with my mother cooking meat every day, it seemed as if I fasted most of the time.
On this afternoon, a miracle had happened. A girl that was my age at the time, sixteen, walked over to where I was and said, “Hello.”
She looked like a nerd, just like me, except that she wore glasses. She was holding a pile of books in her arms.
“Would you like to study with me?” she asked.
“Yes! Yes, I would!” I replied with a lot of excitement.
I was not a fan of printed books but at least I had made a friend.
We studied for quite a long time until we finally decided to become best friends.
Her name was Alyssa.
My mother was looking out through the window and called out, “Betha!”
“Yes!” I replied.
“What are you doing?” she asked after seeing me reading an invisible book. I realized that it was not a miracle after all, but instead, it was my fair imagination.
I was dumbfounded by the fact that Alyssa was not real.
Originally, I would have screamed but because a crowd of children were standing in front of me and staring at me, I just kept calm and leaned against the palm tree that was behind me because trees were my only friends, which was weird.
I sat down as it started to rain. My hair became soaked but I did not mind at all.
The only thing that frightened me was how the lighting was dancing in the sky.
I fell asleep as water droplets from the tree leaves fell onto my face. The water calmed me down and made me forget about the incident.
By the time I woke up, it had already stopped raining and it was dark. I developed a cold which made it difficult for me to breathe.
I ran to the house but the door was locked. I went back to the tree and used some of the leaves as bedding.
I could not fall asleep for half the night because I kept on sneezing and coughing. My nose turned red and it was running. At this moment I felt like killing myself because being dead would be better than feeling as if needles were poking through my nose.
I walked to the door again and knocked but no one heard me. I tried to open the car door but it was also locked. The night had never felt this long before.
It was very difficult for me to fall asleep but I eventually did. A few hours later, the sun rose and the cocks were crowing. It was unbelievable that I had made it alive. “Betha!” my mother called out, “Are you okay?” She was glad to see that I was still alive and wrapped me up in a warm blanket.
She took me back into the house where I had a cup of tea in the kitchen. This was probably the only morning that I had not woken up to hugging a tree.
I could not even talk because of how much I was shivering. It was difficult for me to take a sip of the tea. “You will be okay, dear,” said my mother, rubbing my back gently. The tea was barely helping because I still felt as if I were an ice sculpture.
I was angry and sad but I could not show my emotions because of how cold I was. My parents had forgotten about me and left me to sleep outside!
I went to the living room, where I saw my father with his mouth wide open. He quickly switched off the television when we sat down. “What’s wrong, father?” I asked him finally being able to let a word out of my mouth.
He opened his mouth and said, “Nothing, nothing at all,” and smiled as if everything was okay.
“Father, can I please have the remote control?” I asked him.
“No,” he replied, “go and read a book.” At last I got up and tried to grab the remote control away from him, but he held it so tightly that it was nearly impossible to take it away from him.
We kept on fighting for the remote. My mother was just looking at us with a slight smile. When I finally got ahold of the remote control, I switched on the television but unfortunately, there was some very disturbing news.
I could not stand while watching it, so I had to take a seat.