The little leaf “Panna” slowly opened its eye and looked across the beautiful garden. There was a faint tinge of light as the sun gently woke up at the far horizon. The sky was a hue of different colours from grey to brown to red as a new dawn welcomed ‘Panna’ the little leaf into life.
As the day progressed, Panna, the little new leaf saw itself atop a mighty old tree “Vruksha” surrounded by a beautiful spring garden. The garden was lush with fragrant flowers, mighty trees, birds humming and gentle breeze swaying across.
Little leaf ‘Panna’ with its wide innocent eye savoured the nature’s beauty and then, the mighty wind ‘Vayu’ came on his regular rounds at the spring garden. Vayu is powerful, having traversed the whole world, it has seen much and heard more than the little leaf Panna could ever dream of.
Vayu swayed and nudged Panna a bit, and gave it the freedom of motion and that moment Panna fell in love with Vayu. Since that moment, Panna simply adored and loved Vayu to the hilt. Without Vayu, it was obvious that Panna would never see the beautiful world below it or around it. Infact, It was given that it would never ever move an inch without Vayu.
Panna the new kid in the block was just ecstatic with it’s freedom that Vayu provided it and it showed on Panna’s face.
Now Vayu was mighty, but also gentle and a talented musician too. It whispered or sometimes sang melodious tunes into Panna’s ears. Sometimes Vayu just whistled depending on its mood. Sometime he howled when he was angry. So were the ever changing moods of Vayu.
Mighty wind Vayu also loved and cared for the little leaf Panna and every time it was around the spring garden, they met and Vayu told it many stories of its travels across the world. Stories about the Oceans and the forests that it traversed and the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter it experienced. Little Panna would listen with wide open eyes and feel and experience the heat or chill or even smell the salt from the oceans and scent of the forests as Vayu told him story over story.
Vayu told little Panna about ‘Life’, the beautiful sky and the birds and more and Panna’s heart sprung with desire to speak with ‘Life’.
“When will ‘Life’ speak to me?” Panna asked Vayu.
Vayu said “I am the bearer of ‘Life’; you can speak with life through me. Through me, you will touch life”.
Little leaf Panna was never happier in its life. It beamed and said “I shall love you for eternity. I am the happiest tiny leaf in the world”
Mighty Vayu was a busy wind. He had to traverse the world across the seas and the forests. But every time he breezed past the spring garden and tiny Panna, he whispered a joyful greeting to Panna and waved at him gently. Panna always felt Vayu over his face like a happy child caressing the cheek of a loved one.
“I shall love you for eternity” Panna declared for the ‘N’th time to Vayu as he moved on with a melodious whistle.
Little leaf Panna was a happy leaf.
The Old Tree Vruksha heard the little leaf Panna and chuckled. “You are young and you are beautiful. You do not know ‘Life’ yet. Enjoy your time here as much as possible. Because soon enough, ‘Life’ will catch up with you. And then you shall wither, lose your sheen and be blown away to become a speck of dust in the earth and this same Vayu whom you adore so much will be the cause and pallbearer for your demise”.
Little Panna was shaken to the core as he heard Vruksha admonish it. While other friendly leaves remained silent and appeared sad, the world stood still for Panna. And Vayu was nowhere around.
“That’s not possible” cried Panna.
“That’s the way life is, mocked the old tree Vruksha. I have seen hundreds of leaves wither and fall down to their demise from many trees, all thanks to Vayu. Your time shall come too and Vayu will not be any different with you. Vayu is wise and old, so ask him it this is true, sometime.
Vruksha knew that, it is the nature of Vayu, to wither and carry away the dried leaves to its final resting place in earth and it cannot be any different to Panna. Vruksha was looking forward to Panna to loathe and curse Vayu.
Little Panna was innocent with full of love in its tiny heart. It said” I shall never hate Vayu. Vayu can never hurt me. I am not afraid of Vayu. He is my eternal friend”.
So Next time when Vayu came singing a melodious tune to little Panna, Panna asked Vayu innocently” When I am old, dry and brittle, will you destroy me as Vruksha says?
Vayu promises Panna “I will never destroy you, my child. Then the nature of life is that every living being on earth will get old and die one day. It is not my doing. I do not control life".
Hearing this Panna started shaking with fear. Vayu reassures Panna. “Do not be afraid when the time comes. Do not give into hate, regret and sorrow. I shall be there with you always. It will not be an end but a new beginning to you. There is no end in ‘Life’. One end gives rise to another beginning. It is always a transition and I shall be always with you when it happens. Fear not”.
Little Panna felt much better and Vayu narrated him his latest stories to raise the spirit of little Panna. As Vayu melodiously sang a beautiful song, Panna drifted to sleep.
Times passed, season changed, Panna grew larger and stronger. Its colours changed magnificently from Yellow, red, gold to green. Panna glowed like a bride on her marriage day. It was the centre of attraction and joy to others in the spring garden. There was joy and laughter all around. Vayu carried heavenly fragrance from the flowers across to Panna. Panna was never more joyous. It savoured every moment of this glorious period in it’s life.
“You are the most beautiful leaf on earth" declared Vayu. "I do not think there is any other leaf that can match you in this whole world". Panna’s joy knew no bounds.
Slowly other leaves began to wither, dry and drop and some even just tumbled away with sadness. The thought of demise made the leaves unhappy and for some, it hastened their demise. A heavy heart cannot tread far.
Panna was nonchalant. It even chided the old tree Vruksha, “You cannot harm me with your words. I choose to be happy unlike the other sad and unhappy leaves and Vayu; my friend will be there for me always".
Vruksha sneered at Panna “wait and see Panna. No Vayu can save you. It is in your very nature to age, crumble, fall and become one with dirt and also in Vayu’s nature to bring you your demise” But Panna could sense the frustration in Vruksha’s voice as it was unable to shake up Panna.
Seasons changed, days passed into months. Panna energy receded. It started feeling tired. The bounce in its saps seemed drying up. It’s bright colour slowly darkened to brown and Panna knew it’s time is growing short.
But little leaf Panna is not our everyday normal leaf. It was still the same joyous leaf that enjoyed the wonderful adventures that Vayu would tell it every time it was around. Panna firmly believed that Vayu had something up its sleeve for it. So it continued to be a jolly good fellow.
The old tree Vruksha was quite annoyed to see the happy Panna. It wanted to see Panna cry in despair and shiver with fear of death. But Panna just continued to be a happy soul as always.
Seeing that nothing shook the withering Panna, the old tree Vruksha, decided to play the villain and when one day Vayu came to check out Panna, Vruksha shook with all its energy that Panna just snapped away from the branch and began to fall down to earth.
Vruksha, expected Panna to scream and cry, but instead heard the sound of laughter.
“I am flying” ecstatically shouted Panna in pure joy. “Finally I am free and I am flying”.
Vruksha shouted back “No. You are plunging to your death”
“I am soaring like a bird. I am flying” Panna shouted back.
As Panna slowly drifted down, it felt something lift it up. Dear Vayu was close by as promised. It gently lifted Panna and carried it along. “I cannot carry you indefinitely. But I shall be as gentle with you as possible” saying this Vayu ever so gently placed Panna to rest on the ground. “Do not be afraid of death. It is just a transition from one life to another. It’s like one changing his clothes. I shall return back to you very soon. Now lie down in peace”
As Vayu laid down Panna on the ground and moved on, the old tree Vruksha, bellowed with laughter. “Did I not tell you that you are just like any other leaf? Your time is up. Just give up”
Panna did not stir nor responded.. There was no need to respond to anyone. It was at peace with itself. It just lay quietly looking at the world. It knew that it had no regrets and lived well. Every moment of its life had been worthwhile and that’s what mattered in the end. Slowly Panna drifted to sleep for one last time.
Time passed. Seasons changed.
Panna was suddenly jolted from sleep. It did not feel old and tired anymore. In contrast it felt very light and free to move around. It could hear Vayu singing softly and soon Vayu lifted Panna and spun higher and higher and off they both flew.
“Did I not promise that I shall come back for you” smiled Vayu. “You have become the dust of the earth, very light and fine that I can carry you everywhere with me”
Saying so, Vayu carried Panna across the mighty oceans and the great forests and lovely streams. Little leaf Panna was now a part of the earth with millions of tiny dust specks that was once a leaf and Panna had come back to earth where it had taken life.
Every tiny speck of Panna brought pure joy, a gleam of hope, and a speck of love everywhere it went along with the wind and life.
Then it so happened, one day, Vayu was passing by the Old tree Vruksha, and Vruksha was telling all the young leaves about the story of Panna that loved Vayu and finally perished in dirt.
Vayu would have none of it. It started singing a sweet tune “Do not listen to those who tell you that your fate is in the dirt. Listen to me. I will tell you the tale of how you will become life itself, not dirt. Never dread life, but be filled with joy. For this life is to become one with life itself and not to become dirt".
Now friends, if you ever wonder which leaves listened to Vayu and which listened to Vruksha, Just look up on a stormy day and see. The one who wave joyously greeting and those which fall down in sorrow are how they chose life or dirt.
Image Credit: Pixabay
Note: The Names Panna, Vruksha and Vayu are the names of a leaf, tree and wind derived from Sanskrit language.