A Himalayan Love Tragedy

The story unfolds high on the Mahab-harat Lekh, somewhere in West Nepal, many years ago. Gurans {RJiododendrori), a girl tree, was in her gangly adolescent stage. Her branches hung out awkwardly and she had not yet learned to sway gent-ly to the soft Himalayan breeze.
Young Gurans was infatuated with the tree named Uttis (Atnus nepalensis), who, in his early adulthood, had grown tall and slim. He had shiny dark leaves and was quite attractive.
Though shy, Gurans gathered up her courage and went up to Uttis one day. She expressed her deep love for him, her desire to sink roots next to him, and to age together under the gaze of Api and Saipal.
But Uttis did not like Gurans´ proposal and shrugged his branches in exasperation. He had no time for all this adoles¬cent sap from the young female. He did not even make an ex¬cuse or try to explain to Gurans why he was not interested. Instead, Uttis looked away down the valley, contempt evident in his erect posture. An early afternoon cloud came by and when Uttis turned around, Gurans was gone, humiliated, lovelorn and quite alone.
It was an early autumn day three seasons later that Uttis was looking out over the valley when on top of the adjoining ridge he saw a ravishing sight. Yes, indeed! It was Gurans, now hi full bloom, delicately built, and resplendent with the most beautiful crimson flowers all over. The gangly girl had become a beautiful lady. No tree, bush or banmara on the hill could keep its eye off her, and Gurans was quite aware of this, Uttis forgot his indiscretion and rudeness of three years ago. He preened his leaves and called up to Gurans and asked if she would be his consort. She gave a start, then in a voice cold as the axe-man´s hated steel, she replied, "What! Be your consort? Have you no shame, you miserable shrub! Begone! Ja, bheer bata khasera mar! Go fall off a cliff} for all I care!"
And that is what actually happened. Uttis stepped back in shame and sorrow and accidentally slipped over the edge of a steep landslide. He came to rest far below amidst fallen rock and rubble. Which is where all of Uttis´ descendants remain to this day, for Gurans´ curse was for eternity. The fast-growing Uttis arrives wherever there is a landslide, to stabilise the soil and to en¬rich it by a process called "nitrogen fixa¬tion."
And that is why, if you go up anywhere in the Mahabharat Lekh today, you will find Gurans trees in bloom on sunny mountain-tops, while all Uttis scrabble ¦ around in deep gullies and degraded | hillsides.
Moral: Reject an advance and you are condemned to be an environmentalist!

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Himal Southasian