Some proclaimed me insane. Others called me an old man with nothing else to do than spin tall tales. But what I shall tell you is no lie.
I once lived in a tiny village called Sylvaterra, a place surrounded by lush green vegetation. Wherever you looked, you could only see beauty. Though life was simple, abundance was all around us. Village folk would gather around a campfire sharing stories until children fell asleep and the cool night air forced us to seek warmth in the comforts of our home. A treasure everyone thought that couldn’t be sold.
But when the mayor of the town proposed a massive town project promising us all better life, almost everyone welcomed the news with open arms. Except for one person who didn’t approve of ‘upgrading’ the village. But his opinion didn’t matter, for he was considered a dimwit.
Before long, machines came forth and felled all the trees. Old and young, none were spared. Countless creatures became homeless overnight. Hilltops were flattened to make way for apartments. An entire forest was razed to the ground. In a fortnight, Sylvaterra lost its identity and became the town that everyone loved.
To commemorate its founding anniversary, a carnival was held annually. This celebration was organized with great pomp and glory. Circuses entertained, music played, dances performed, food and drinks distributed, visitors mesmerized. All instruments of pleasure were provided.
It was then on the night of Sylvaterra’s 10th foundation anniversary when, under a full moon, the inconceivable took place.
All the townspeople were inside a gigantic circus tent cheering the elephants perform their synchronized dances. The festivities were at their zenith when the town’s dimwit barged in and shouted, “We have to get out of here”. He was booed, jeered at, and dragged away. But there was something in his facial expression that made me leave my chair and follow him. He must have fled, for I couldn’t see him anywhere. I climbed towards the town hall and sat on a bench overlooking the carnival.
I had not yet warmed my seat when the elephants started trumpeting. They sounded distressed and frightened. Within seconds, all of them bolted out. Frantic screams and distraught cries for help replaced the music of the celebration. Something was moving, casting shadows over the carnival area. To my astonishment, thorny plants and thick bushes surrounded the lower levels of the tent. Long and twisted branches of giant trees engulfed it, devouring everything inside. Vines started creeping towards every building and passage of the town, enveloping every steel and concrete structure on their way. I ran as fast as I could. When I had reached the paddy fields I looked back and could not see a single sign of the once much admired and renowned Sylvaterra. Everything was gone and completely reclaimed by the Forest.
The authorities declared Sylvaterra was destroyed in an earthquake. But when I narrated the events of the night, I was pronounced mad and mocked with laughter.
Rham Dhel is a vegan who dabbles in writing fiction. Her stories usually involve humans trying to find meaning in a world in disconnect with its animal inhabitants. She's an eco-child, a friend to all creatures, and a defender of the meek and mute beings of the wild.