The invisible chikoo tree

Deepa Kiran

My sister and I were delighted when our grandmother arrived from Thanjavur. She had brought along a special gift this time. She opened her palm and showed us the gift. They were brown-black Sapota seeds. “I am gifting you both a Sapota tree. I have brought you the seed and you must now sow it and grow the plant in your backyard.” We had seen Amma tinker around in the kitchen garden but we had never attempted gardening.

story-time We both chose two opposite spots in the garden, dug the ground, planted the seed, covered it up with soil and watered the earth. We were informed that we must continue caring for the seed by watering it. Excited about this new unexpected responsibility, we both made sure that we remembered to water our seed. After about three weeks, my sister, Divya’s seed peeped its little head out. The sapling was beginning to grow! “Oh no!” I cried, “My seed has not grown.” The elders told me not worry. “Different seeds grow at a different pace. Wait, Deepa”, they repeated. Wait I did. I waited for four weeks and even five. Slowly the others began to worry too. “Did you remember to water every day? Amma asked. “Are you sure that that is the spot?” asked Appa.

“Of course, Appa”, I shouted. “I am very sure.” I stomped up to the spot and quickly dug it out. “I know this is the spot. I told you. I know it! Why won’t I know? After all, I dig it up every day to check how much it has grown.”

The whole house burst into laughter, for they had discovered the secret behind my absent Sapota tree!

The role the teacher plays is much like the role of the one watering the plant. The teacher gets to water the plants and care for the seeds but often the anxious parents are in a hurry to “see” the proof of growth and in their anxiety, they can actually end up damaging the process of development itself. The work of the teacher shows results much later in life, when the tree is fully grown.

We have been sharing stories to share with children. While this story is enjoyable for children, it has a deep impact on parents. It is very useful to help them see their anxieties and the consequent pressure on the teacher-learner transactions.

The author is a storyteller, educationalist, writer and founder of Story Arts India. She is a resource person with the Ministry of Culture, Government of India, training teachers in government and private institutions on using storytelling in the learning environment. She can be reached at

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