Today, I woke up to the irritating roar of slashers.
They cut down a whole bunch of trees in the garden opposite our building, and spent the entire morning chunking wood into small pieces. Chunking the trees into bits. It is truly dismal.
Maybe the trees were sick. Maybe they were a risk for the house inhabitants and could have collapsed on the roof. Maybe not. And even though I doubt that another “worldclass” condo is going to pop up here, that early morning trees chop-down broke my heart.
I grew up climbing trees, playing hide and seek with my sister, running in the pine forest with our dog (before she passed and two cats adopted us), learning by heart the name, shape and smell of every single plant, dancing until exhaustion and jumping from dry-stone walls. Falling while running. Falling from the swing. Falling on rollerblades. Falling from my bike. And always starting again, trying further, faster, craving that adrenaline rush, because nothing else really matters, when you’re 8 year old.
I spent endless days in the garden, exploring like I were a 16th century discoverer. Everyday we’d build a new bamboo and tablecloth Indian teepee, feathers in the hair. I’d ride my bike in countless loops until “I’ve cycled more kilometers than the Tour de France“). I’d lose myself in mystical worlds, devouring books from the rustic couch I found in branches of old oaks. I found profound happiness in the smell of thyme and rosemary after the rain, the shape of clouds, the silky touch of sage leaves. From time to time I encountered one of those shit-scary Mantis (“they eat their husband!“) and other spiders (“they… well they’re spiders!“). I observed those animals with fascination, played with aunts, caught crickets with my hands. Traumatized Rébecca with a stupid “finger-mashed snails” challenge that came out of my friend’s and my cruel imagination, as sadistic as kids can be (pardon p’tit boudin ❤).
The contrast was stark between this bubble of joy, wonder and powerful feelings, and the terrifying and awkward social interactions at school for that shy, grade-skipping and exemplary pupil I was. Interestingly, I cherished those nature moments with intense, precocious nostalgia back then, somehow aware that this world of innocence and constant adventure would come to an end sooner than later, and would never be retrieved.
I grew up, left the carefree childhood behind me. Or perhaps somewhere inside.
And today I woke up to the sound of trees being cut down.
Bangkok is such a concrete and bricks city. Trees are scarce, and exclusively located in designated areas such as Bang Krachao (the city’s “green lungs” peninsula) and a few parks. But if you’re looking for chlorophyll in an average, typical Bangkok street… I doubt you’ll find it elsewhere than in a 7-Eleven gum or candy.
I have only been around for a year, but having lived in China and other places in South-East Asia before, I have quite an accurate idea of what crazy fast-paced urban development looks like. How land value inflation drives the restless erection of private condominiums and shopping malls. How neighbourhoods and urban villages are wiped out. And how every single tree counts.
Today, they killed trees. And it truly broke my heart.