The Tree Whisperer
by Oluwatomiwa Ajeigbe
The trees are getting restless. I walk down the beaten forest path, trying my best to ignore their murmurs, but they are too many and their words crowd my mind.
The green will perish . . .
You must warn the people . . .
Call down the wrath of Ileh . . .
I do not reply to any of them. They will only slow me down if I do, and I must be back in the village before nightfall. I duck under a low-hanging branch and crawl till I emerge in a clearing. At the far end stands a tall iroko tree, the oldest in the forest and the leader of the trees: Auzyvre, the tree that was planted by Ileh herself.
Auzyvre’s voice is deeper than the voices of the other trees, and immediately as they speak, the entire forest falls quiet. They wave their leaves gently, even though there is no wind. Somewhere in their tall branches, a bird sings an ode to the ending day. I incline my head respectfully when I reach their base and a fresh green leaf falls to my feet, a sign of approval and acceptance.
“Auzyvre. I come with news,” I say.
I can feel the other trees tensing, their branches quivering with anticipation. Auzyvre betrays no emotion like the others, but I can tell that they’re expectant as well.
What news do you bring from the world of men?
“Tarim won’t send the foreigners away,” I say.
The trees howl in disappointment. Yellowed leaves fall to the ground all around me. Their branches shake aggressively and I can feel the ground rumbling a little as some of them move their roots, threatening to rip them out of the earth in their anger.
Auzyvre’s voice cuts through the din, and gradually the trees quiet down. When the last yellow leaf has fallen and the earth has stopped trembling, Auzyvre speaks again.
Kola, you know what will happen if the foreigners do not leave. You know what we must do.
I know. I know what they must do. People will be hurt, or worse. They have done it before, but I cannot let them do it again. The last time the trees acted, innocent people died. This time, if anyone should suffer at all, it should be the ones who have betrayed the earth only. (Continue Reading…)