THE STARFISH AND THE MANGROVE

Alongside the seashore ran a hedge of seaweeds, to the fore of it there were waves of vast oceans where schools of fish and reefs grazed in, but on the other side of the sea, there was an old mangrove in full leaves. Under it a starfish, which was very satisfied with the company he kept: his own self, would usually pass by it.

One day, the starfish was muttering something to the sand.

“Wait till my time comes,” he would say, “and see what I shall carry out and do. I am not going to be contented by simply giving out green leaves and air-breathing roots, or inching myself towards the shore, or providing pearls just like what clams do.”

The old mangrove heard the starfish and asked very humbly, “oh, I do expect a lot from you. Will you not say when is it going to happen?”

“I should take my time,” answered the starfish. “Do you think anyone will be expecting much of me if I’m hurrying up the way you do?”

The next month, the starfish would still pass under the old mangrove’s high roots. The plant was full of green leaves and a chock-full trunk. And the starfish passed by slowly and crept towards his house while sarcastically murmuring, “everything looks the same as it did last year. No innovations. No change. No betterment. The old mangrove is still producing what it has been producing; it will never be able to do anything else”.

Summer has passed. Autumn has passed. Until the first downpour of rain, the old mangrove continued to look at the sky and smile. And the starfish would do the same as what he has been doing for months now, crawling and creeping back to his house.

Years came. The old mangrove blossomed and the starfish stuck his arms out of its house. “You are really nearing old age. It is now time to wither and die. Whether what you had given to the world was worth anything or not, one thing is sure and that is you have never developed your inner self or something more than what you have become. You’ll be a wizened stick. Do you understand me? Are you listening,” said the starfish.

“You frighten me so,” the old mangrove quaked. “You have said about things I never thought of”.
“I don’t think you’ve thought about anything. Have you not asked why you are like that? Of what your existence really is about? And why you are what you are and not something else?”

“No,” said the old mangrove. “My leaves spring forth out of joy! I cannot cease them from going out of me. The seawater, the sun is invigorating. I drink the rain and dewdrops are sweet. I feel so happy producing everything I can. I cannot do anything else.”

“Old thing, you have lived a comfy and a very indolent life,” said the starfish mockingly.
“So true! I have never lacked anything. But you were given the gift to think. You are a thinker. Think deep and astound the world little friend”.

“Astound the world? Not I”, butted out the starfish. “The world means nothing to me. I have enough of what I have within me. I need not anything from outside”.

The old mangrove was flabbergasted with the starfish’s answer.

He said, “but isn’t it the duty of all of us here on earth to do our best for each other, to help and give what we can give. I know I have given oxygen. But you who have received so much, what have you given?”

“What have I given? What shall I give?” snarled the starfish. “I spit on the whole world. It’s worthless and so for the world. Go on producing oxygen and leave since you can’t stop anyway. Let the bushes bear flowers and the chickens give their eggs. All of us have our own public. I’m going to withhold the world; nothing happens there that concerns me”. And then the starfish went back inside his house.
.
“It is so sad,” said the old mangrove. “No matter how much I wanted to, I couldn’t hold myself to the world. My branches are always stretching. My chock-full trunk smiles. My leaves fall and dipped in oceans of azure. But one of my leaves once fell off and was carried away by the wind and was pressed in a 20-year old bookworm’s newly bought novel, my roots which served as a home for schools of fish and my entirety being pictured and cared by photojournalists and environmentalists. Those are my remembrances: my life”.

The old mangrove went on living and giving out everything innocently and the starfish withdrew from the world, which meant nothing to him, hibernating in his house.

Years passed. The old mangrove had become earth and the starfish had become earth. But alongside the seashore ran a hedge of seaweeds, to the fore of it there were waves of vast oceans where schools of fish and reefs grazed in but on the other side of sea there were mangroves in full leaves. Under it starfishes creep and crawl and the world meant nothing to them.

Should I tell the story from the beginning, again? I could, but it would be no different.

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