AKIF ABDULAMIR I thought of relaxing and doing nothing during the Eid holidays. But that was where I went wrong. If people leave you alone by not calling you then the mischief in your mind can fill the void. As I was sitting out in my garden, I indulged myself to let my thoughts entertain me. For some reason, I was feeling quite depressed and my mind created a fantasy from the old tree. I am not exactly sure what happened in the next ensuing minutes. But the brown, dried leaves scattered on the ground turned to golden flakes. The green seeds in each branch glistening in the morning dew were pearls from the master jeweller. Then the phone rang in the distance and a man wearing golden cufflinks came along and handed my mobile on a silver platter. The voice from the other hand was very apologetic, but there was a very distinctive authority in it. Guess what, the man was telling me that I could not have the honour of being the only person in the land to have a tree adorned with jewels. So, he was going to uproot it and have it planted in a royal place. And before I could protest, a hundred white robed men jumped the compound wall and started drilling at the stem of the old tree. In minutes, they packed it neatly in a giant bag and left. I looked at the huge empty hole and wondered what it was all about. I also searched for the fallen beads and flakes, but they were not spared either. Seconds later, the man was again on the phone saying, not so apologetic this time, do not plant such a tree again, please The servant had no golden cuffs and the silver platter had gone rusty. When I asked him why, he said the men had made sure that nothing worth having was in the house. But why, I asked him? Just look around the neighbourhood, he asked, you would find out why. It was then my daughter who decided to come along and asked me to come inside the house. My eyes must have gone hazy because she looked at me curiously. She grabbed my shoulders and gently shook me. Her tiny face had a worried look, as she looked straight into my eyes. I snapped out of it and looked at the old tree that was standing just yards away from me. It was bent in the middle from the sheer weight of the branches and its bushy leaves hung like the beard of an old man of 90. My daughter asked me if there was something on the tree, but I shook my head. I let her lead me inside the house so I could help with her homework. I knew exactly why my mind used the escape route to relieve the tension. Just the other day, I was driving past many kilometres of walls that had fabulously looking mansions behind them and wondered about the circumstances behind such wealth. In peaceful times, the cream of the society divides the spoils of war among themselves. The authoritative bulldozers make way for more mansions from the dilapidated dwellings. Pointing fingers from the well-connected web pick up an empty spot for a village to be created for one person and his future generations. The word exclusive means exactly just that where gold fish swim in a few and oversized golden bowls. Well, the Gulf cities are now sprawling into pockets of privately owned new villages and also business lands reserved for exclusivity. In old days, warriors, who saved the country from invading forces, were rewarded by the state with a roof over their heads. But I am not sure who gets what reward in peaceful and modern times. Or for that matter, for what reasons. Khaleej Times