“But… But Sahib, you can’t. You can’t cut it down. That Banyan has stood there for over 200 years. The villagers worship it. It is where the spirits of the elders gather. It is…”
His booming laugh cut me off, his cold eyes glaring as if he thought me a fool.
“You are supposed to be an educated man and you believe this rubbish. Ridiculous! Anyway, I’m not going to debate this. My decision is final. You are to have that entire area cleared and levelled and we will build the new office there.”
I implored Sahib, arguing with great vigor, but he refused to budge, going so far as to threaten me to either have it done or quit. That was the problem with having a city man in charge, their minds were so closed, and they refused to see what was. Nonetheless I could not afford to lose my job, so I had to obey. But even the fear of Sahib or the lure of his money would not convince any of the village woodcutters. Even the homeless were not willing. The men spat at me and the women cursed me for my vile suggestion.
Sahib did not believe me. Calling me a lazy useless slob he picked up his telephone and told the city office to send some workers down. His plan would not to be overturned, he railed. He was a stubborn man.
That evening I went to the Banyan and made my offering, begging the spirits to forgive me, pleading for the safety and wellbeing of my family and my village, leaving our future in the able hands of the spirits of the elders.
The workers arrived from the city the next morning, but Sahib was not to be seen. He was not one to be late and an ominous feeling crept over me. I went to his house and knocked upon the door. No answer. But his scooter was right there. Something was amiss. The watchman and I broke down Sahib’s door. My blood ran cold. For there was Sahib, dead, very dead, hanging from the fan, hanging by the root of a banyan tree.
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