Author’s Note: Please note that the plot of the story is not mine. I have modified many parts of the original story and the dialogues but it’s not entirely my work.

A fierce gale blew at night. A jamun tree standing in the lawn of a Secretariat came down with a crash. In the morning when the gardner came there he discovered a man lying crushed under the fallen tree. Within minutes a crowd collected round the tree.

“It was a beautiful tree,” a clerk said.

“And what luscious fruits!” another said, smacking his lips.

“I used to take home a bagful of jamuns when the tree was in fruit,” said a third almost in tears. “My children loved the fruit.”

“But what about this man?” the gardner pointed towards the man who lay crushed under the tree.

“Yes, what about this man?” The Superintendent suddenly became grave and stood there thinking hard.

“God knows if the man is dead or alive,” a peon said.

“He must be dead,” the second peon said. “A man on whom such a heavy tree falls – what chance has he of surviving?”

“I’m still alive,” the man groaned as he lay crushed under the tree.

“It’s a miracle!” a clerk looked around, surprised.

“We must remove him from under the tree, quickly,” the gardener said.

“But it’s a difficult job,” a grumpy peon shook his head. “Don’t you see how big the tree is?”

“What’s difficult about it?” the gardner demanded. “The Superintendent has only to give a word and fifteen of us, peons, clerks and gardeners will put our backs to the tree. It can be done within few minutes.”

“The gardner is right,” the clerks said together.

“We’re ready. Get set go!”

Soon many bystanders came forward to lend a hand.

“Wait!” The Superintendent cried. “First let me have a word with Under Secretary.”

The Superintendent went to the Under Secretary, the Under Secretary went to the Deputy Secretary, the Deputy Secretary to the Joint Secretary, and he finally went to the Minister. The Minister whispered something into a Secretary’s ear. A file was started and it moved down stage by stage, right from the Secretary down to Under Secretary. Half of the day was gone.

At lunch time a big crowd had gathered round the man who lay crushed under the tree. Some enterprising clerks from among the crowd decided to take the matter in hand without waiting for orders from the high-ups. They were about to get down to the job when the Superintendent came running, a file in his hand.

“We can’t remove the tree ourselves,” he said waving the file. “The issue in the hand concerns a tree which comes under the purview of Agriculture Department and rightly so. I’ll mark the file urgent and send it to the Agriculture Department. As soon as orders are received from there, I’ll have the tree removed.”

Next day a reply came from the Agriculture Department. The tree, it said, had fallen in the lawn of the Industries Department. And so, it was entirely up to the Industries Department whether to remove the tree or let it remain where it was.

The people in the Industries Department fumed when they received the file. They wrote back that the responsibility for removing the tree squarely rested on the shoulders of the Agriculture Department. Removing the tree was none of their business.

The second day the file kept moving from table to table. The reply came in the evening – the matter was being referred to Horticulture Department. The tree, the Agriculture guys pointed out was a fruit-bearing one. Their jurisdiction didn’t extend beyond food grains and agriculture. The jamun tree was the responsibility of Horticulture Department.

At night the gardener gave the man some rice to eat. The police had by now moved in to prevent the people from taking the law into their hands and shifting the tree from its place. A constable took pity on the man and allowed him to be fed.

The gardener said, “Don’t worry, your file is being attended. I hope there is a decision by tomorrow.”

The man was silent.

The gardener looked at the tree, “You’re lucky,” he said. “The tree fell over your shoulders. Had it fallen on your back your spine would have been crushed to pieces.”

The man was silent yet again.

“Any relatives whom I can call?” he casually asked him. “Tell me where they live. I’ll make sure they reach here swiftly.”

“I’m alone in this world. I have no relatives.” the man groaned. His body was in a horrifying posture that his voice was aching each time he spoke.

The gardener shook his head regretfully and moved away from the place.

The third day a reply came from the Secretary of the Horticulture Department. It was harsh and full of sarcasm. “I’m surprised,” he wrote. “Do you have any idea about your demeanour? Instead of promoting ‘Grow More Trees’ campaign some mindless officials in this country have no shame in demolishing a fruit-bearing tree, which in this case happens to be a jamun tree. Under no circumstances will the Department ever support this blasphemy!”

“How do we resolve this deadlock?” A wit among the crowd asked. “I’ll tell you what. Why cut down the tree after all? Why not saw off the man himself in two right in the middle. The tree will remain intact where it is. We can take out the half from one side and half from the other.

“But that will kill me outright!” the man objected.

“Yes, he’s right,” a clerk agreed.

The man who had come up with this suggestion waved off the mans objection. “Don’t you know how much plastic surgery has advanced these days,” he said. “I’ll maintain that if the man is cut in two he can be joined together at the thorax with the help of a plastic surgery.”

As this idea became a topic of discussion, the file was now sent to the Medical Department. The Medical Department acted with an unusual promptness and sent the file the very next day to the most outstanding plastic surgeon in its department asking him to to give his verdict. The surgeon personally went to the site, tapped the victim’s body, studied his genteel health, recorded his blood pressure, noted down his pulse, examined his heart and lungs and declared he was a fit case for surgical intervention and the operation would no doubt be successful. The only hindrance he mentioned was that the patient may die.

The suggestion was promptly ruled out. The man was still under the tree waiting for someone to rescue him.

To be continued…

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