Of Vines, Branches & Sticks


Once upon a time, there lived a vine. It built such a cordial inter-dependent relationship with its branches that made the other plants around it envious. Because of the close relationship, the vine kept thriving. As long as they were in agreement, the branches weathered every storm and made it through the many droughts.

But the relationship began to strain when the branches of the vine started to listen to the scrawny branches of the other plants surrounding them.

“Aren’t you tired of having your world revolved by the vine? Look, we are branching out. We want to be independent. Why do you have to be stuck to the vine who determines when and how to get food and water? Look, when you get out there on your own, the whole ground beneath us is ours to enjoy. Why don’t you come with us? It will surely be fun! Don’t you have a sense of adventure?”

The stronger and more matured branches paid no heed to these words and advised their younger colleagues to do same. But they watched the broken branches on the ground with longing eyes and refused to listen. The only way they could leave the vine was to starve themselves out of the daily ration of water and nutrients the vine provided.

*

Because the branches had the right to free will, the vine couldn’t stop them from drying themselves up. Soon, the weak-willed branches got their wishes granted by seeing themselves drop from the vine onto the ground.

“Huh! Alas, we are free; no longer attached to the vine!” the fallen branches said to one another.

“But come to think of it, the view from here is not appealing at all. Are I see are tall weeds and rotting leaves; whereas the clouds, sun, moon and stars felt closer to view and touch up there,” one grumbled.

“See it this way: watching the elements from below, isn’t it more awe-inspiring? A change in scenery isn’t always bad,” another tried to cheer it up.

“Hey, so good for you to join us! Now you will experience how life is here on the ground is like. Only the strong survive,” the fallen branches from the neighboring plant told the newcomers.

Image credit: Pixabay

*

A few days later, they realized they were growing weaker and turning brown.

“What is going on?” they asked the others.

“Oh, it’s part of the transformation. You are turning into sticks, that’s what.”
“Sticks? What’s that?”
“What children play with and adults use to prepare fire. With the former, you are used as play weapons and get broken into smaller useless pieces. With the latter however, it is the rather the sad end of the road. You get wasted into ashes that blows away.”
“And what’s the fun in that?”
“You get to experience life beyond the vine. Isn’t that what you wished for?”

Not long after, some children came running around, plucking fruits and chasing one another. They picked up the sticks which they used to hit the low hanging fruits to fall.

After getting enough fruits to eat, the children carried the sticks home.

“Wow…this is how humans live?” the new sticks asked themselves.

“What are you doing with those sticks? Don’t you know you can hurt yourselves? Throw them away!” the mothers ordered the children.

On their way to the rubbish bin, they callously broke the sticks, stomped on them and threw them away.

The sticks sobbed at the predicament.

“Is this it? Our bitter end?”
“Let’s hope so. Oh how I wish I was still up in the air on the vine!” another moaned.

*

The sticks that were not picked up by the children got carried away by the women just as they were told.

“I hope our colleagues picked up by the children are in good hands. I’d hate to see them broken up into pieces.”
“You should worry about your own fate,” the sticks from the other plants advised.

Before they realized, they were bundled up and set to fire with some fuel poured over them.

The sticks began to groan with the heat as they splintered.

“This is terrible! Why are they killing us so? What did we do wrong?”
“Nothing personal, folks. We are just materials for making food for humans.”

“How do we stop this pain?”
“You don’t. You only get a reprieve if the women pour water on us to kill the fire. Even at that, we would never be our old selves again. Forever scarred, ultimately short-lived.”

They cried out, hoping for rescue. But it only got worse.

“What’s happening to us?” The sticks cried when they saw themselves dissipating into ashes.

“The end, dear sticks. The very end.”

“Oh if only we had listened to the branches, we would still be safe on the vine.”

Had I known…but it was too late.

*

Meanwhile the branches on the vine started wondering what had happened to their fallen fellows who got picked up.

“Do you think they are having fun? Getting a change in scenery and all?”

“Perhaps but I wouldn’t count on it. Life is in the vine. Outside it is nothing but death. Look at those who didn’t get picked up. See them rotting away. How is that life?”
“But aren’t you tired of the same scenery all day every day? Don’t you ever wonder how it’s like out there?”
“Not really. Ever since I was born on this vine, I was told…life begins here. But with time, you may fall with age. When that happens, embrace it. It’s the end. You could be useful to someone out there. But don’t envy the sticks. They are dead on arrival.”

“How sure are you that you weren’t told those stories to keep you here, slaving for the vine all your life?”
“I don’t see myself as a slave. I’m a branch and I’m proud to be part of the vine. Are you?”
Some listened and moved on. Others looked out there longingly.

“But adventure can’t be a wrong thing to pursue, can it?”

“Of course not! Who said it is?” branches of the other plant said.
“They make it sound like suicide.”
“It’s not. It’s another life out there. Want to experience it?”

What did you learn from this story? Kindly share and thanks for reading.

© Josephine Amoako 2021

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