This is a story of two trees and why you should not laugh at crying people. In January 2018, the big angsana tree in front of the steps of the School of The Arts was cut down as it was deemed unhealthy and thus unsafe. The then principal called the 40-year-old angsana tree an important landmark and cried making her speech during the remembrance ceremony. Some students were laughing about it later. After all, it was just a tree.
But there was another smaller tree at the corner which was cut down this year without much ceremony. I’ve always enjoyed taking the public bus with my son since he started school there. After getting off the bus he’d walk to school and I’d go to work at the building across the road. Under this tree was where I’d give my son a hug and we’d say goodbye before he walked up the steps. We’d wave at each other until he disappeared into the building. Then with a sigh and smile I’d walk to work.
On the weekend of his graduation exhibition, I chanced upon workmen cutting up the tree under which my son and I hugged and said goodbye. All too soon, the tree was reduced to just chunks of wood to be hoisted onto the back of a lorry for disposal.
One morning a week later, I saw my son making some coffee and breakfast in the kitchen and just mentioned the tree being cut down. “I wonder why the principal was crying over the previous tree being cut down,” I said and he recalled how his friends were laughing. “I mean why would she feel emotional about it? I was a bit sad though when they cut down that other tree under which we hugged and said goodbye. Those are such good memories. I remember us saying goodbye under that tree from your first year there.” I thought I’d heard laughing from my son.
“Ha! You’re laughing at the principal for crying too! That’s so mean.” Then I realised that the sounds weren’t of him laughing. He was sobbing instead and had to put down his cup of coffee. “Huh? Wait. Why are you crying? I thought you were laughing at the principal.”I guess in those few moments a multitude of memories must have flashed through his mind — him getting accepted at the school, our bus rides together, the wonderful friends he made there and him changing over the years.
He managed to say in between sobs, “I’m just sad because time goes by so fast.” That was all he could manage before breaking down into a watery, sobbing mess.“Yes, that’s true. That’s why we’ve got to make the most of each day,” I said and we hugged just like before when we said goodbye to each other under the tree.