If trees had a persona, he would be a rugged, weather beaten, stoic, unyielding, bigotted, blunt, crabby and gnarled sea captain with a wooden leg and rum in his breath. Or a bombastic Squire Trelawney. I pass by him every day, on my way to the bus stop.
His limbs are getting brittle and he senses that life has moved on, that most things now are beyond his ken. I imagine him irritated that I am staring at him, but at the same time he can’t help feeling gratified that after decades at least someone, even if it has ta be a cantankerous old Bengali, is taking notice. He is a somebaady, he’s saying ta me – he has fathered that oak yonder, hasn’t he?
I wonder if he is ever despondent that life is drawing to a close, just the way I sometimes do. Will he suffer? Or will he be euthanized, before he tips over and hurts someone walking down the paved path that passes beneath?
That question dogs me too – when I am on my last leg, will I suffer?
Cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, has a point. “We don’t let animals suffer,” he told BBC once, “so why humans?” What he meant was how people, who can’t bear to see pets endure life in agony, have them euthanized. Race horses are deliberately ‘put down’ when they break a leg and Rover is ‘put to sleep’ when he’s not able to live on with dignity, with neither the SPCA nor PETA batting an eyelid.
Yet when it comes to humans, the heavens break loose with legal and ethical questions. Never mind if the person is hopelessly incontinent, in a persistent vegetative state or suffering terminal pain – he or she has to go through that personal hell till what is deemed a natural death separates the body from a hopelessly dysfunctional mind.
There I go again. I see a tree and I think of death. Soon it’ll be boobs and I’ll think of death. I guess its time for a pint of Rickard’s Red at the Phoenix, by the riverside.
Meanwhile Squire Trelawney here seems to be speaking through the corner of his clenched lips and telling my Jim Hawkins, “Girara here, kid.”