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 day leaped ahead. The gardener and the clerk had befriended this man. While putting some rice in his mouth the gardener told him that the matter was now under the consideration of high ups. It had been decided to call a meeting of Secretaries of all the Departments, the next day. So he had every chance to be free.

The man sighed and mumbled a couplet:

‘It’s awful here to live beneath a tree,

I do hope that I’ll soon be free.’

Taken aback, the gardener put his finger on his mouth. “Are you a poet?” he asked.

The old man nodded listlessly.

Gardener who was surprised and aroused by this revelation went to the head clerk. Soon the news spread through the Secretariat that the man was a poet and a stream of people jostled along to have a good look at the poet. The news carried to the city as well and by evening poets from every lane of the city flocked to the lawn of the Secretariat. There were poets of all description and it appeared that a symposium was being held around the man.

As the poets chanted and recited his poems, the Sub-Committee of the Secretariat declared that the matter concerned neither with Horticulture nor Agriculture but only with ‘Culture’. Since he was a poet, the Cultural Department was given the responsibility to rescue him.

Passing through different sections of the Cultural Department the file ultimately landed on the table of the Secretary of the Literature division. He immediately got into his car and rushed towards the lawn of the Secretariat and got down to interview the forty something poet.

“Are you a poet?” he enquired.

“Yes,” the man replied, breathing heavily.

“Under what pseudonym do you publish your work?”


“Dew!” the secretary exclaimed. “Are you by any chance the same Dew whose poem, ‘A Flower which crumbled before it could blossom’ was nominated in the National poetry contest?”

The man nodded.

“Are you a member of our Literature organisation?”


“I’m amazed,” said the Secretary. “We, as a Cultural Department have made a severe blunder! We can’t forgive ourselves for this terrible omission. It’s unthinkable that such a great poet should keep gathering dust in oblivion.”

“Not in oblivion,” the poet remarked, correcting the Secretary, “Call it under the tree. As you can clearly see I’m lying under a tree. Please help me.”

“I’ll act immediately,” the Secretary promptly assured him and rushed back to his office.

The next day he came rushing back to the poet. “Congratulation,” he said. His face was beaming like a four year old with a lollipop. “You must celebrate! Our literature organisation has elected you a member of its central body. Here’s your enrolment paper.”

“But first get me out from under the tree.” the man groaned. His breathing had become laboured and his face was twisted with pain. His voice was chocking like a carburettor of a useless car.

“That’s one thing I cannot do,” the Secretary said. “What lay in my powers I’ve already done. As a special case, if you die I will arrange a stipend for your wife and children. All you’re required to do is to sign along the dotted lines.”

“But I’m still alive,” the poet said haltingly. “And I want to live. Please help me.”

“The trouble is,” the Secretary said wringing his hands, “our department is concerned only with culture. One can’t cut down a tree with pen and ink. For that you require a saw and an axe. I’ll write a letter to the Forest Department and mark it urgent if you want.”

“Please do it swiftly!” the poet cried.

In the evening the gardener came and told that the people from the Forest Department would come in the morning to cut down the tree. This could be the end of his misery.

The gardener looked very happy. The man who lay crushed under the tree was in bad shape but he still struggled for life. The only snag was he had to survive that night with grit and conviction.

The next day when the men from the Forest Department came with saws and axes they were stopped from cutting down the tree. At the eleventh hour the Foreign Department had put its foot down. The reason : Ten years ago the Prime Minister of Patonia had planted this tree in the lawn of the Secretariat at a gesture of good-will. If this tree was cut down there was every apprehension that it may create bad blood between the two countries.

“But a man’s life is at stake,” a clerk said.

“So what? It’s equally a question of maintaining good-will between two countries.” another clerk said. “And don’t forget how helpful Patonia has been to our country. Surely what’s one man’s life weighed against the good will of a foreign power?”

“Do you mean to tell me that the man should be allowed to die?”


The Under Secretary passed word to the Superintendent that the Prime Minister had returned from his tour that morning and that the Foreign Department had decided to put up the file for his attention at four in the evening. The Prime Minister’s decision, it went without saying, would be final.

At five the Superintendent came in person to the man. “Listen,” he said cheerfully waving the file in the air, “Prime Minister has ordered the tree to be cut down. He has taken upon himself the sole responsibility for any international complication that may arise thereform. The tree will be hackeddown tomorrow. That will be the end of your agony. Do you hear? The last words has been said. Your file is complete.”

But the poet’s hands had gone cold. The pupils of his eyes were lifeless and a long line of ants was going into his mouth. His ‘A Flower which crumbled before it could blossom’ had come true.

The file of his life was also complete.

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