The Tunnel in The Tree – A short story

 Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it.

All of us love to spend time with our family, friends, near and dear ones. As years pass by these little moments become times to be cherished. Particularly we tend to be nostalgic about our childhood days. Those memories occupy a special place in our hearts. Here is such an incident about my uncle. I would love to share with you.

During a family get together, my mom, and her brother (my uncle) were recollecting their childhood memories and relating stories to us. All of us then decided to take a trip to their birth place, Koyna nagar. This place, which was a flourishing city during their times had totally changed its look due to a massive earthquake in the
early seventies. Apparently, many things had changed. But for my mom and my uncle, it was still the same old place – The place where they were born, the place where they spent their childhood days.

The place spoke of their school days, naughty pranks and silly games! A visit to their old house brought back
loads of memories, and there was a wistful look in their eyes. As we tread the long route from the house to their old school, my uncle entertained us with stories about how they used to pass the time on this way to school and back. He told us about a massive tree on the way that had a hole in its trunk. One of the boys had discovered that the hole was actually some sort of a ‘tunnel’. A stone thrown into the hole would come out of another small hole near the roots.

Over time it had become their favourite pastime to throw stones down into the ‘tunnel’ and see whose stone would reach the farthest! The tree had also become a sort of friend. One day one of the boys threw a large rock which got stuck in the tunnel. Try as they might they couldn’t dislodge it and their favourite past time came to a sad end. As my uncle finished his tale, all of us were keeping our eyes open for any huge tree with a hole in its trunk.

But we kept walking, and there was no such tree to be seen. Amongst the growth of wild weeds, there stood a sizeable battered stump – perhaps the remnant of some magnificent tree! At the look of it, my uncle suddenly
stopped. He seemed drawn towards it by some invisible force. With a joyous look, he exclaimed, “It is the same tree!“

To our immense surprise, the tunnel was still intact. Impulsively my uncle picked up a stone and threw it down the hole. And – Oh! The stone came out of the tunnel bringing along with it the ‘culprit-stone’ which had been sitting tight in its place and blocking the tunnel for more than three decades! It seemed as if the tree and the stone were waiting for their old companion. The look of joy on my uncle’s face was overwhelming. He embraced the tree stump, lifted the rock and started jumping like a small child!

This incident made me realise how little things occupy such a special place in our memories. (In fact, don’t of all we keep a treasured collection of chocolate wrappers dried flowers, greeting cards, seashells and other ‘small’ things that remind us of some unique incident or some particular person? Going through these things awakens the memories of those cherished moments!) Here it was a simple stone, a remnant of his childhood that made my uncle recreate it – If only for a moment.

The stone now occupies a central place in my uncle’s showcase, his memories and of course mine!