Flame Of The Forest

Deep in the jungles of Ajodhya Hill and Forest Reserve Area in the Purulia district of the state of West Bengal in India, blossomed the sacred Dhak tree or the Butea monosperma. Locally known as the Palash, it was nicknamed Bastard Teak by the Britishers. Much of its ancient forest tracts lying in the historic Doab area, between the rivers Ganga and Yamuna, was cleared by the East India Company for agriculture in the early eighteen hundreds. For its flaming-red beak-shaped Papilionaceous flower, the mystical tree was also called the Flame-Of-The-Forest.

Eighty-year-old Guruchoron Mahapatra along with his orphan teenage granddaughter ‘Palash’ named after the same beautiful tree, lived in a small wooden hut in the middle of a Dhak jungle on the outskirts of the sleepy little village of Baghmundi in the same forest regions of Purulia. Like the Butea tree, the girl’s beauty too was unparalleled, and for that, she was also lovingly called the Flame-Of-The-Forest by her overprotective grandfather.

Though not unique to the subcontinent of India, the Flame-Of-The-Forest tree was also found in the Southeast Asian countries of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, and western Indonesia. Unlike the tree, however, no other like the Flame-Of-The-Forest girl was found anywhere else in the world apart from that very Jungle in Purulia.

Guruchoron’s forefathers were simple forest people who had originally migrated from the state of Odisha many generations ago for reasons lost in time. The old man had lost much in life. His wife died many decades ago while giving birth to their only son Gonesh. Then many years later, both Gonesh and his wife died due to a mysterious sickness. They left behind their baby daughter Palash, who was then raised by Guruchoron all by himself in the forest.

The leathery leaves of the Dhak tree have been used to serve and eat food long before the advent of paper or plastic plates. From its wood, very good quality charcoal could be obtained. The gum of the tree known as the Bengal Kino was valued by druggists for its astringent qualities and by leather workers because of its Tannins. Another kind of gum from the tree known as Kamarkas in Hindi was used in certain culinary dishes. Like the tree, Guruchoron’s granddaughter, too, was blessed with many qualities.

The Palash tree was known for its timber, resin, fodder, medicine, and dye. Its wood was white and soft, very durable underwater, hence often used for well-curbs and water scoops. For centuries Hindus have made spoons and ladles from it to pour Ghee or clarified butter on the sacred sacrificial fires of a Yagya.

The old man knew all about the qualities and uses of this magnificent tree. Over the years, he had taught his granddaughter all about them, the techniques, and ways to extract the various gifts of the Flame-Of-The-Forest tree to sustain themselves.

Of all the gifts of the Butea monosperma, its timber was most important for Guruchoron. In his youth, he had discovered that the white and soft, wood of the Dhak could also be crafted into beautiful toys. The forest dweller had mastered making a unique variety of wooden toys with homemade carpentry tools, which no one else could make.

Guruchoron drew his inspiration from nature. Most of his toys were animals – some found in the Ajodhya Hill and Reserve Forest, some that he had seen in a picture somewhere, and some crafted, completely out of his imagination. Though he did not like it so much, he also made human figures at times.

His creations were not only breathtaking and extremely alive to look at, but they also had moving parts and the figurines’ head, tail, limbs, and even eyes would move with the wind, making them one-of-a-kind.

For many decades now, the oldtimer would craft these wooden marvels in his forest home throughout the year. Then he would visit two famous fairs – one in June in the town of Purulia and the other in December in the city of Bankura to sell his fascinating toys.

He would usually take his granddaughter along with him, but as she grew older and her beauty became strikingly breathtaking, he stopped taking her to the town and the city. The old carpenter was scared that someone would take her away from him.

After Guruchoron stopped taking Palash to the fairs, she grew more restless and curious about the outside world. She tried her best to always appear happy in front of her grandfather. After all, he had sacrificed so much to raise her. Deep in her teenage heart, however, she yearned for the outside world.

Then one year, Guruchoron health started to deteriorate. Not knowing what to do with his sudden illness, the old man tried his best to hide his ailing symptoms from his granddaughter and live his routine life to the best. That year in June, he could not go to the fair in Purulia, and by the year’s end, they were running out of essential supplies that could only be acquired from the towns and the cities.

Guruchoron knew he had to make it to the fair in Bankura in December if they wanted to survive. With great difficulty, the old man loaded and prepared his cart and did a final check before going to sleep on the night before his journey to the winter fair. That night he felt more sick than usual and did not know whether he could make the trip in the morning.

The next day he was annoyed to wake us late. He hated it when Palash would keep an open umbrella beside his head to shield his eye from the morning rays. The girl had done this again, which meant he had overslept and would be late. As he tried to wake up, he realised he was too sick to move, a burning fever ran through his body, and he fell out of breath.

With great difficulty, Guruchoron stepped out of the cottage and froze speechless looking at the tracks of his cart stretching across the forest floor trailing away from his hut into the horizon. It was clear to him; his granddaughter had taken the bold move to drive the cart to the fair in Bankura and sell the toys herself.

Weakened by his chronic sickness suddenly heightened the night before and engulfed by the unexpected grief and realisation of perhaps never seeing his beloved Flame-Of-The-Forest again, the old carpenter collapsed on the soft grassy floor in front of his forest cottage.

Many years later, a nine-year-old beautiful little girl with fiery red cheeks came to the same forest along with her adventurous doctor father as part of a tourist group for a camping trip. The group was on their way to a well-known forest resort in the area, but the father-daughter mixed the trails and got separated.

While trying to find their way back to the group, the two of them spotted the silhouette of a swaying woman amidst a burning red blossomed Palash grove. As they approached the lady to get help and directions, the father froze.

“Daddy, daddy, this is no woman, it is a wooden statue that moves with the wind. She is so beautiful, who do you think she is daddy,” asked the curious little girl with great enthusiasm and excitement.

Unshaken by her daughter’s words, the doctor kept on staring at the face of the wooded lady gently moving with the wind. Even her eyelashes batted as the passing air between the trees caressed her lifelike timber frame.

Gaining back his composure after a long spell of freezing silence, the father shifted his gaze towards his daughter’s eyes and spoke to say – “child, you know that I met your mother many years ago, much before your birth in a hospital where she was brought in with a severe head injury from a road accident. After she recovered, she could not remember where she came from or anything about her past. We fell in love and got married a year later.”

“Yes daddy, you have told me about this many times,” interrupted the anxious girl. “You also know that she went to heaven right after you were born. I so much regret not having taken a single photo of her to show you. Well, you see, I do not know how this is possible, but the moving wooden statue you see in front of you is that of your mother,” said the father to his daughter with tears streaming down his face.

Going closer to the statue and taking its moving fingers in his hands, the loving husband missing his long-departed wife continued, “I think this is where your mother grew up. It seems like someone who loved her deeply made this statue in memory of her. She never could remember much after the accident, apart from recollecting flashes of an old carpenter, who seemed to love her very much and called her the Flame-Of-The-Forest.”

Flame Of The Forest


Copyright © 2021 TRISHIKH DASGUPTA

This work of fiction, written by Trishikh Dasgupta is the author’s sole intellectual property. All rights are reserved. No part of this story may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including printing, photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, send an email to the author at trishikh@gmail.com or get in touch with Trishikh on the CONTACT page of this website.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trishikh

Trishikh Dasgupta

Adventurer, philosopher, writer, painter, photographer, craftsman, innovator, or just a momentary speck in the universe flickering to leave behind a footprint on the sands of time..READ MORE

148 Comments Add yours

  1. It’s a beautiful story Trishikh.

    “Flame of Forest”, the perfect title. We have Palash trees in our Malwa- Nimar region. Palash has several uses. It’s a part of wedding arrangement in our local tradition.

    Thank you.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks Lokesh. Nice to know about the wedding connection of this tree. There is so much we can learn, when we share. Glad that you liked the story. Always look forward to your comments.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. I have a question Trishikh, How do you choose topics for your stories?

        Liked by 4 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        Frankly Lokesh. I have no idea. For this tale I wanted to write a story about a carpenter, that’s all I knew in the beginning. So I started to write. A carpenters story has to do something with wood, so the logical next step was to find out about a tree. Then I wanted the story to be from the Bengal region, so I had to find a tree from a forest in Bengal. You see – how it progresses, then one thing leads to the other, I keep on spinning the story, ofcourse imagination, creativity, grasp of language, and experience in writing helps, but above all you just have to start writing about a word, or a idea, or anything else and slowly the story will emerge.

        Liked by 3 people

      3. My bade papa was a carpenter. He passed away last month. In our childhood, he used to tell stories to me and my brother. Stories of nature, god and our ancestors.

        It gave birth to the curiosity and seed of imagination in me. When I go for writing stories daily life, technology and modernity come to my mind. Because that’s what I’ve learned in school.

        Liked by 3 people

      4. Trishikh says:

        We can write stories about anything. The generations, technologies, can differ and each can make a good story. Practice is the only path to success. Keep on writing, you have already grown much in your writing in the last few months and will grow more. You might not see it, but others can see your improvement from the outside. You will only get better and not worst, so keep on writing.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. BookWorm says:

    Beautifully written!! I just loved your blog. You have some deep emotions in your words, keep writing📚

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. You are too kind with your words. Really treasure the appreciation.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. BookWorm says:

        😀

        Liked by 2 people

  3. A wonderful tale as always!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. Every word of encouragement mean a lot to me.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Amazing Life says:

    Wonderful written! Worth the expactactions…..👍

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for eagerly waiting for the story. This week was really tough with of challenges and deadlines at work. Am happy that I could bring out the story. So many of you look forward to it, I can’t let you guys down.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. vaniheart says:

    what a wonderful story ❤ ♥ 💖

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. Really happy that you liked the tale.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. KK says:

    A brand touching story, Trishikh. The ending was superb. Very well written, as always 👌👌

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you KK. I always look forward to your comment. So happy that you liked this story.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. KK says:

        It’s my pleasure 😊

        Liked by 2 people

      2. I agree with KK. Your story was so moving. Keep it up.
        http://www.rsrue.blogspot.com

        Liked by 2 people

  7. Heart touching tale.. so many emotions 💖

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes, Snehal, there are many emotions packed into this little story of mine. So much more could have been written, but then I leave it to the imagination of the reader. Thank you for your lovely comment. Always appreciate and look forward to it.

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Oh! Such a heartbreaking tale of love. Beautifully written!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Shweta for loving my story. Yes it is indeed a tale of love and so many other small little things as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Indeed. It’s always a pleasure to read your work 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        You do me great honour by saying these words. I am glad that my writings bring joy to people around the world.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I hope you have a great weekend 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      4. Trishikh says:

        Thanks Shweta, a good weekend to you too.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Arpita Banerjee says:

    This is amazing!! ✨✨

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks Arpita, always look forward to your appreciation.

      Like

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for liking and reblogging this story of mine.

      Like

  10. Such a beautiful story, Trishikh.
    Quite an interesting ending.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks Tanishq. Ya this story is written in a bit different style, however, I am happy the way it came out. Further application from all of you my friends confirms that this style works.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. nedhamson says:

    Reblogged this on Ned Hamson’s Second Line View of the News and commented:
    A delightful tale of love over time.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Many thanks Ned for promoting this story of mine. Much appreciate the kind gesture. Gland that you liked the story.

      Like

  12. Jyothi says:

    What a wonderful story!! Beautifully written!!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Jyothi. I am so happy that you like the story. These small encouragements make a big difference to my writing enthusiasm.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. A beautiful composition entwining nature, an honest simple existence, the anxieties about the possible loss of love and the unpredictability of human existence.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for summing up my little story so well. Your are right this is a rigmarole of human life and existence.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Good way to present the article.Nice…..

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you for your kind words of appreciation.

      Like

  15. Dera says:

    Hi dear. You have a beautiful blog with lots of interesting stories. Just want to inform you that I nominated you for the 2021 Aesthete Blogger Award. You can go through my post on it and do as the rules says.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Dera for the honour, but I am a bit shy from awards.

      Like

  16. Excellent story Trishikh.I like your way of presentation and I perceive it as real scence.👌👌👌👌🙏🙏🙏🌷

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Prakaash. So happy that you like the story and find my descriptions life-like.

      Like

  17. Wayan says:

    Beautiful story Trishikh, although the little girl never knew her mother but lucky she found the statue.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes you are right Wayan. The little girl got to see how beautiful her mother was, and how she looked. Also got an idea, where her mother grew up.

      Liked by 1 person

  18. digitalbloggingdaily says:

    So, are you a bengali Trishikh?

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes I am a Bengali. Thank you so muck for liking my stories and following my blog. I write and release 1 short story every weekend. There are many stories in my blog, some of which I am sure you would love to read. Do visit again.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. digitalbloggingdaily says:

        😊Sure!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. digitalbloggingdaily says:

        😃Sure!
        Even I’m a Bengali…. Nice to ‘meet’ you😄

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Trishikh says:

        Nice to meet you too. Look forward to meaningful blogging interaction in the coming days.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. digitalbloggingdaily says:

        Of course 😊

        Liked by 3 people

  19. mcurry09 says:

    Very lovely.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Marthe. You have always been big support to my writing.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Halim says:

    Such a sad and sudden parting I did not expect. Poor Guruchoron must had missed Palash so much he made the statue. In my mind he still lives and meets Palash’s daughter and husband as they try to find their way back to the group but comes across the cottage first instead. And of course he knows who she is at first sight. 🙂 A lovely story, Trishikh! Cheers.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Halim for your wonderful comment. I exactly wanted this for my readers to weave many outcomes of this story, many possibilities that might have happened. You have nailed it my friend.

      Liked by 3 people

  21. esamelgendy says:

    Very beautiful I am one of your biggest followers

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Oh! That’s a big honour that you bestow on me. Thank you so much fr liking my stories.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. usfman says:

    I’m deeply moved how the tree seemed to care for them so well for them in their time of need. I recommend you read the novel- “The Heartbeat of Trees.”

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment. Really treasure it. Will try to read the novel “The Heartbeat of Tree”, the name itself sounds so interesting. Trees have an ancient connect with human beings. They are older than us and are made of the same thing that we are created of.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. esamelgendy says:

    Very beautiful I am one of your biggest follower

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for this great honour. I am so lucky to be blessed by friends who really love and like my stories.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. Glad that you liked it.

      Like

  24. esamelgendy says:

    Very beautiful, continue your creativity, and I hope we exchange enlightened thoughts

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      So happy for this comment. Somehow it had landed in my spam folder. Am really glad that you liked my story.

      Like

  25. You have created a beautiful legend. Well done. Following!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Rebecca for liking my story. You are so kind with your appreciation. Do visit my blog again, I write and publish a story every weekend. There are many stories in my blog I am sure you would love some of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you, Trishikh. I enjoy fables, myths and legends from around the world. I look forward to reading more of your stories. Thank you for following my site! I hope you will enjoy the poetry and the history stories.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Trishikh says:

        You are most welcome Rebecca. So glad that you find my stories appealing. I have enjoyed some of your posts too. Will visit your blog again for sure.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for liking the story Priyadarshini.

      Like

      1. Most welcome 🙏 ☺

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Please do visit my blog too hope you follow it 🙏

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Trishikh says:

        Yes, Priyadarshini I have started to follow you site as well.

        Like

  26. Flame of the forest, first the title caught my attention and then your story managed to keep up that. Very touching tale Trishik!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Radhika. Kind words of appreciation such as yours makes writing these stories worthwhile.

      Like

  27. Please follow my blog also

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      It is my pleasure to follow your blog. Thank you.

      Like

  28. Beautiful story.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. So glad that you liked the story.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, I did, your stories are always great. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

  29. Anamika says:

    Heart touching story very beautifully written much appreciated. Keep going with your wonderful stories ahead.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Anamika. Your kind words of appreciation is a source of encouragement for me.

      Like

  30. Lahoucine Elassry says:

    Beautiful writing

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much for your kind words of appreciation.

      Like

  31. Lahoucine Elassry says:

    It’s my pleasure

    Liked by 3 people

  32. As always Trishikh, your stories are superb. When are you going to publish?!!
    Best wishes my friend
    Steve

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Steve. Your kind words encourage me a lot. Hopefully someday Steve I will get a chance to publish. For now, I’ll just keep on writing.

      Like

  33. esamelgendy says:

    Very beautiful

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much, so glad that you liked the story.

      Liked by 1 person

  34. Subhraroy says:

    Unique depiction of bastard teak which is more adorable by the name of palash.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      I tried my best to depict the tree. So glad that my description appealed to you.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. It was artistic natural!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Trishikh says:

        You are very kind with your appreciation. I treasure it.

        Liked by 1 person

  35. Amazing Life says:

    Looking forward to new. It’s understood that everyone has his own business except for blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      The past week has been so demanding at work. I have not been able to write the story, however the good news is that I have started to write this week’s story, though this week is equally challenging at work, I think I will be able to finish the story by the weekend.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Yes Subhra, something like that indeed

      Like

  36. malaikamuses says:

    This is a beautiful moving story. ❤

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Malaika. Much appreciate and treasure your comment.

      Like

  37. esamelgendy says:

    Beautiful story.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. Your kind words encourage me a lot.

      Like

  38. katelon says:

    Beautiful story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much.

      Liked by 1 person

  39. Lahoucine Elassry says:

    Nice view

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      So happy that you like my story.

      Like

  40. chattykerry says:

    What a beautiful story! I was transported to a different land with flame trees. Perfect.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you Kerry, comments such as yours makes writing these stories worthwhile.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. chattykerry says:

        You are very welcome, Trishikh. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  41. Goff James says:

    Thanks for another wonderful story. The flame tree when in bloom is a magnificent sight to behold. One of my favourite trees.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thanks Goff. So glad that you liked the story. Yes indeed that blooming ‘Flame of the Forest’ is a sight to behold.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Goff James says:

        Pleasure. Loved the read. Best Regards.

        Liked by 1 person

  42. I really loved the story. It’s so filled with exquisite imagery which makes you fall in deep and deep, as the eyes glide from one line to another.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Wow, what a comment. It really makes my day, and makes writing the story worthwhile. I can’t thank you enough for your kind words of appreciation.

      Like

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much Anna. Always treasure your comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  43. How amazing the story “Flame of The Forest” is! Thank you so much for sharing it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much. So happy that you liked my story.

      Like

  44. Lahoucine Elassry says:

    Beautiful writing

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Trishikh says:

      Thank you so much.

      Like

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