Once upon a time, there was a huge banyan tree. It was more than a hundred years old. Despite its age, the tree standing in an isolated, small but dense forest, was full of life because Indian grey hornbills, mynas, monkeys and squirrels came to feast on the luscious red fruits of the banyan.
One winter morning, the tree widely known as Bargadh, noticed several parrots coming from the opposite direction. Seven parrots came and perched on the tree. The parrots looked tense. The tree asked the parrots, ‘Where do you come from? I haven’t seen you in this forest before.’ The eldest of the parrots answered, his voice quivering with fear and excitement, ‘I have come from the neighboring village of Sultanpur.
This morning we suddenly noticed some men coming with axes and soon they were chopping down our trees.’ A younger parrot added, ‘The tree was quite young and died in great pain.’ The old banyan tree sighed, ‘Well, in the world of men where life has no value, the death of a tree is profitable.’
The wily snake, Saap Khan, camouflaging itself in the branches crept close to the youngest of the parrots with a rather avaricious shine in his eyes. The old tree shook its branches, warning the snake to spare its guests. The snake gave a cynical smile, ‘What’s the use? For how long? Even you will fall to the axe of the men! The youngest parrot was struck dumb, ‘Are they going to kill you too, О great banyan tree?’
‘What else do you expect of men? The forest will go and even we will vanish from the face of the Earth!’ Sher Bahadur Thapa, the Nepalese refugee tiger added.
‘Hi Thapa! How do you do? You seem to be in a bad mood! Did you have a bad time in the washroom?’ ‘Where do I find a washroom in the first place? There is a huge crowd of people near the stream in the jungle! Do you expect me to respond to the call of nature in their presence?’
‘Men!’ Saap Khan hissed angrily, ‘What are they doing in this jungle? It is one of the few areas which we have to ourselves. Will men destroy this too?’
Thapa was irritated, ‘I can perfectly well understand why men want to destroy ugly creatures like you! I, fail to understand, why they would want to kill a handsome creature like me?’
The snake protested, ‘I am as great as you….’
‘Shut up!’ Thapa retorted.
As Bargadh was laughing at this heated exchange, a bullet pierced through Thapa’s neck. It lay on the dust, motionless. The parrots flew in fear towards some unknown destination and Saap Khan lay motionless watching its old friend die. Soon the area was surrounded by some hunters who looked greedily at the dead tiger. They wanted snakeskin too. They felt that the old banyan tree could also be butchered for a contractor had expressed this requirement. So they felled the tree and killed Saap Khan.
The skin of Thapa and Khan fetched high prices. The parrots came back to find that the old Banyan tree, that whole wild area, had disappeared. They found a small township being inaugurated there and the Chief Guest, the environment minister, lecturing on the importance of respecting wildlife and forests!