Who started the fire?

Who started the fire?
Highlights

Ah, there you are my child, said the old man with a toothy grin as the little boy got off the bus with an old torn satchel on his shoulder Teddy, for that was his name, couldnt even smile everything that had happened in the last few days seemed like a racy blur to him But here he was, with his grandfather

“Ah, there you are my child”, said the old man with a toothy grin as the little boy got off the bus with an old torn satchel on his shoulder. Teddy, for that was his name, couldn’t even smile; everything that had happened in the last few days seemed like a racy blur to him. But here he was, with his grandfather. He hadn’t forgotten his mum and dad; but he somehow knew that they would never come back again.

He silently accompanied his grandfather to his tiny cottage in the middle of the fields. His grandfather talked and joked and laughed. He was trying his best to cheer up the woebegone little boy, who was still recovering from the shock of having lost his parents. Teddy walked in silence till he reached the house. When he went in to eat the simple meal that his grandmother had prepared, the old man sighed sadly. However, misfortunes give no warning, do they? There was no one he could blame.

For a few days, Teddy just stayed at home, and his grandparents would give him company. But he would hardly talk, and never smile. A week later, they had almost given up hope. Teddy’s grandfather had already stayed away from his fields too long, and had entrusted the work to his farm labourers. That evening, he gave one last try to get Teddy to become normal again. When night began to fall, he called Teddy to him. “Would you like to see something beautiful?” Teddy looked unsure at first. Then he nodded. “ Alright then, close your eyes”, he said and led Teddy out into the fields surrounding their little cottage.

“You can open your eyes now”, said his grandfather and Teddy slowly opened his eyes. And what a lovely sight he saw! The sky was an ink blue, and it was supposed to be dark. But the entire field was lit up by glow-worms! Teddy’s expression changed form one of indifference to astonishment. He clapped his hands in delight. “What are they, Grandpa?”he cried excitedly, talking for the first time since he came! His grandfather was overjoyed. Teddy was smiling! The old man laughed and told him, and after an hour, they went back inside. But Teddy seemed to have become quiet again. He ate his dinner in silence. The old man wondered if his joy was short-lived.

But when he set out for the fields the next morning, he found a small figure tagging along behind him. It was Teddy! He seemed curious about the fields and the farms. The little boy hadn’t seen anything like it, having been in the city all his life. His grandfather gently took him around and showed him the vast expanse of land with its vegetable and fruit farms. Teddy began to cheer up. “Will those glow worms come again now, Grandpa?”he asked curiously. His grandfather laughed.

“No, they come only in the night. But you’ll find something else now!” As they moved closer to the vegetable creepers and plants that were in full bloom, Teddy could hear a low buzz. The buzz got louder and louder, and was soon all around him. Bees! The yellow and black insects went busily from flower to flower searching for nectar to make honey. “Do you see those bees?”asked his Grandpa. “They are the most useful of all visitors to a farmer like me. Do you know why?”

Teddy shook his head. “See how they brush against the pollen when they visit each flower? When they go to the next flower, they drop it there. And only if they pollinate our plants will the flowers become fruits.” This was new knowledge to Teddy, who had never seen anything like it before. So impressed was he, that he set out to help his grandfather in the farms everyday. His grandfather reaped a bumper crop every year, for various fruits and vegetables. Teddy loved to help out in the farm, and was friendly with all the farm helpers. But then, Teddy couldn’t just sit home and farm all day! He was sent to school. Yet, he came rushing back home to get back to the farms.

However, Teddy’s grandpa never made a profit like the other farmers. Their neighbours, who were also farmers, reaped an even more bountiful crop. “Why don’t we get a crop as good as theirs, Grandpa?”Teddy asked. “That’s because they use chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and we don’t”, said his grandfather sadly. “Remember Teddy, if you want the Earth to bless you bountifully, you need to put in only what’s natural. The more of these chemicals you add, the worse you make it.”

“But grandpa, we have been doing just that! And yet, we are the losers”, argued Teddy. But his grandpa shook his head firmly. “They don’t know what they are doing, Teddy. It’s true that we will lose too, in the end. The whole of human kind might just end up paying for the mistakes of some, and the greed of a few.”
Big pesticide companies and chemical fertilizer factories set up shop in the area, and farmers began buying them in large quantities and using them in their fields. As long as they made money, who cared? Neither did the farmers, nor did the factories. Everyone was making a profit. However, just like Teddy’s grandfather had predicted, as each year passed, their farm produce began dwindling. The number of bees coming to their farms lessened. Every year, Teddy would look forward eagerly for the buzz that was like the sound of good times. But unfortunately, the buzz kept getting softer and softer. And this was the case not just in their farm, but in every farm!

Some of the other farmers bought even more chemical fertilizers hoping they could get their crops to grow. But the overload simply killed their land and soil, and things went from bad to worse. Teddy’s grandfather’s farms at least weren’t contaminated with chemicals, but the bees were far too few in number to ensure them a good crop.

Then, the bad news broke out— man’s greed had killed their greatest helpers- the bees. All the pesticides and fertilizers they had used over the years had piled up in the systems of the bees, killing them silently, slowly, over the years. Everyone was now blaming the big companies, who denied all responsibility. “We never asked the farmers to use fertilizers indiscriminately”, they said. “We didn’t start this disaster. We didn’t start the fire.” The farmers were annoyed. “We were told to use fertilizers by these companies. They didn’t warn us. It’s not our fault. We didn’t start this fire. The government better do something about it.”

Teddy was sad. He remembered the time he had first come to the country, and how the sight of the lush farms and fields had made him a normal little boy. As he sat watching the ruckus on television, he asked his grandfather, “If they didn’t start it Grandpa, who started the fire?” “Man started the fire long ago Teddy”, he said, “this is not the first time, and it’s not going to be the last.”

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