Once upon a time, there grew a large mango tree. A little boy loved to come and play around it every day. He would climb to the tree top, devour the mangoes and sleep under its shade. He loved the tree and the tree loved to play with him.
Time went by. The little boy grew, and he no longer played around the tree anymore. He came back one day with a troubled look and sat gloomily under the tree. “Come and play with me,” the tree implored.
“I am no longer a kid. I don’t play around trees now,” replied the boy, “I want toys. But I need money to buy them.”
“I can’t give you money because I don’t have any,” said the tree, “but you can pluck all my mangoes and sell them at the market nearby. You will get enough money.”
The boy became excited. Plucking all the mangoes, he went away whistling. He didn’t come back. The tree grew sad again.
Years passed. One day, the boy grown into a young man, returned. The tree was thrilled. “Come, play with me,” the tree said.
“Where do I have time to play? I have to work hard for my family. We need a cottage for shelter. Can you help me?,” he asked.
“Well, I think I have enough wood for you to build your cottage! You can chop off as many of my branches as you like,” the tree said.
Relieved, the man cut off all the branches and took them away. The tree was glad to have helped him. But the man didn’t bother to return. The tree was sad and lonely again.
One hot day, the man was back, middle-aged now. Delighted, the tree called out, “Come, play with me!” The man, however, seemed pre-occupied. “I am growing older. Now I need some time for myself. It might be a good idea to go sailing. But how do I get a boat?,” he grumbled.
“Cut away my trunk, hollow it out and build your boat. You can sail far away and have some good time alone,” said the tree, generous to the last.
The man sawed off the tree trunk and built his boat. Away he went sailing. Again he didn’t come back for a long time.
Filly, the man returned, old, bent and frail. With whatever little life still left in its roots, the tree stirred and said, “Sorry, my boy. I don’t have anything for you now. No more mangoes to give.”
“Even if you had, I don’t have any teeth left to eat,” the old man replied.
“No more trunk and branches for you to climb on,” the tree continued sadly.
“All that is in the past. I just need a place to rest my head. After all these years, I am tired now,” sighed the old man.
“Then I do have something left for you, after all! You can lie down and rest your head on my dying roots,” said the tree, perking up slightly. The old man did so and was soon at peace. And as ever, the tree was happy to help.
Thus it is with parents. They give and give until there is nothing left. It is a debt that can never be repaid. Only the grateful and wise acknowledge it before it is too late...