Belonging, not just Fitting In
Growing up in the backdrop of Christian Schools, Christmas has always been a special time. Living in a tropical, hot and humid city like Calcutta, it is very difficult to have the original pine tree to decorate for Christmas. However, the joy of decorating the tree is so great that most of us got our artificial version of it. In fact, all over the city, you got to see all the different varieties – lush, scrawny, massive, dwarfish, of varied colours and with varied decorations. Santa would arrive at night and leave behind gifts even though there was no chimney to climb down. Then of course, the tree was folded and kept in storage for the next year.
One year, I decided that I would like a real pine tree for my children to decorate, so a 2 feet pine tree became a part of our home in Calcutta. As the children grew, so did the pine tree. Every year, it was a family activity where we fought over the right way to decorate the tree.
I had never thought that a day would come when the land of pine trees would include me in its home. The last couple of years have been glorious under trees of all shapes and sizes. They generously spread their arms out and raise their heads to the sky proudly. In contrast was my dear little Christmas Tree. The tree remained in a small pot with no room to stretch. It had barely grown in the last fifteen years. It had neither lived nor died. Although, the tree tried its best to adapt to its conditions, there was no happiness in its demeanour.
After some deliberation and thought, we decided the time was right to transport the tree to a more familiar destination. On its way from Calcutta to Darjeeling, I wonder if the tree felt scared, excited, nervous……or was it stoic like a tree is. Last year, during monsoon, the tree was planted at Second Chance House – a place for second chances at opportunities and happiness.
A little intimidated at first, the tree was probably incredulous and could not believe its good fortune. When one has not eaten for a long time, food can cause a stomach upset. Similarly, my tree took some time to recognise and accept the comfort of the hills as its birth-right. It took a while for it to embrace the mist and cool air, the space to stretch out its coiled roots. The sun, the moon and the sky were the same, only their attitude had completely changed.
The tree is now decorated the year round with creatures great and small that understand it. They hang around it laughing, joking, sharing sorrows and joy. Reflecting on the life of my pine tree, I am once again awestruck at the unpredictability of life. Like the Darjeeling Hills, no one knows what lies around the next turn.
Sipping my cup of Dorje Teas, as I sit in the balcony of the house of Second Chances, I wonder – Is destiny a matter of chance or is it a matter of choice?
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