The Tree

Tassaduq Sohail translated from Urdu by Muhammad Umar Memon

Read time: about 2 minutes

Tassaduq Sohail is an artist and a writer who returned to Pakistan in 2001 after living in London for forty years. He has held exhibitions of his work at various places. This particular work of short fiction seems semi autobiographical in nature. The author thinks like an artist and writers like a poet!

Cover: The Tree

The story is written in first person. ‘I’ likes solitude. Nobody visits him and he doesn’t visit anybody. He paints to his hearts content. And when he faces a block, some like of mental ache, he rushes outside to a park.

At one such time he sits under a tree and assumes that nature is non-responsive, at least until the Tree at whose roots he sat starts talking to him.

A few days of cold weather and there you go having fits of depression! A few clouds in the sky and you break into tears hugging the squirrels. For god’s sakes, have you ever bothered about anyone other than yourself? Your entire world is no bigger than the cocoon that surrounds you!

The Tree goes on to explain that each thing around the author has a life, even the stone that gets rashes after a Dog pisses on it!

The author starts visiting the Tree often after that day. They have interesting conversations about religion and other things in life.

One day author gets ill and travels to Pakistan. When he is back, London is hit with wind storm. The Tree that was his friend is lost forever. The author manages to trace him back and finds him in a church.

The story is a great read, especially the conversations between the author and the Tree. The story also comes around in full circle where the atheist becomes a figure of Jesus. But the question remains- Is there a Heaven or a Hell?

I absolutely loved the Story! I am getting to love the entire collection that this story belongs to. The collection is called The Greatest Urdu Stories translated by Muhammad Umar Memon.

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Veena Choudhary

An avid reader and history fanatic.

Mumbai, MH