◎ He Wei
There are various ways of returning to nature, but people generally respect the last wish made by their parents towards their journey’s end. A friend of mine incidentally related to me the following occurrence which, like a little story, is very touching:
In a newly opened-up forest, a quietly dressed woman walked all by herself on a winding path straight towards one of the trees. There were many trees of varying sizes, and some had just been transplanted, but all were shooting up fast, standing straight and stout and covered with light green young leaves. Evidently, some people had been put in charge of these memorial trees.
As she had been doing for we don’t know how many years, the woman stood silently beside the tree with a bunch of fresh flowers in her hand. She raised her head to fix her eyes on the tree and kept moving her unique small lips as if she were soliloquizing or sharing her innermost feelings with someone. She took a step back to assess how much the tree had grown in height and softly removed the mottled fallen leaves under it. She bent forward to hug and kiss the tree that had been transplanted many years before, and gently stroked its wrinkled bark as if it were something alive. Then she reluctantly turned round and left, vanishing into the last rays of an autumn day in the deepening dusk.
At a sudden gust of the autumn wind, the tree rustled like it was whispering secretly and the woman, being the only person capable of understanding the full implications of the whisper, immediately turned round. Then, after mumbling a few words to the tree, she said goodbye to it and set out on her way home with tears in her eyes.
As the years went by, the woman, a regular solitary visitor on the path, became older and older.
Several years later, the tree became even taller and was crowned with verdant foliage. It stood erect and became more and more luxuriantly green in the wind. It looked up at the firmament to watch the motions of the sun, moon and stars and thus merged itself with Mother Nature.
Another period of time afterwards, there appeared close to it a newly transplanted small tree. It was robust and quiet. With the passage of time, the roots of the two trees had become twined together. They each had a delicate small wooden cinerary casket buried underneath them. The ashes in the caskets had gradually turned into organic fertilizer passing into the trees trunks by way of the roots. The two elderly persons had successively chosen the same way of returning to nature so as to have life prolonged in the bosom of nature. Each tender leaf in the trees was pregnant with green hope.
It’s a true story. It’s a poem singing the praises of tree burial. No need to identify the two elderly people though. It could be any person.