The Shy Girl and her Tree Plantation Drive

She gets down from the cab in the afternoon adjusting her scarf to protect her face as she hands over the exact change for the ride and rushes towards the footpath. One look on the screen notifications as she paces towards her office premises – she has an air of urgency around her; the music playing in the headphones block all the noise around and help her be in a different world – a world of silence, solitude and soft melody. Soon, she crosses a signal and is about to enter the entrance of the building her office is located in. Another look on the screen notifications and she slams the phone in her tote bag along with her head phones; searching for her glare case to shove her glares into.

She passes by the watchman and they exchange a warm smile; greetings are so not her! Shit, another day when I couldnt even wish mama on the entrance – tomorrow I’m doing it definitely, she resolves. The lift arrives and she presses the desired floor number. She is running 15 minutes late to work, but is sure she wouldnt be noticed missing. As she enters the reception and passes by the receptionist, she has a grave look of fear on her face – she keeps repeating to herself she isn’t good with conversations and people do not notice her. Satisfied and proven right with her thinking, she walks down the corridor and sheepishly sits down in her cubicle, saying a soft ‘hi’ to her bestie across the floor.  No one else has noticed her coming in!

Two hours into work; she loves what she does and is good at it. Her work is her holy grail – her passion; her motivation to help her get through the day. She is eying promotion as the third quarter appraisals are about to take place but the very idea of asking for a promotion sends chills down her spine.

Suddenly she comes across an article on the depleting forest cover across India and increasing need for citizens to start planting trees for sustainability. As she sips over her cappuccino, something strange happens – everything  slows down 5x – people walking on the corridor seem like a slow motion feature film, she can see the file being dropped by her colleague about to touch the floor, the office phones are ringing hysterically but slowly, the noise of the printer, keyboard keys being punched rythmically, gossip happening over the water cooler, news channel blabbering stuff on the television. Five seconds and it all stops. She is still there, right in her cubicle but there is pin drop silence! She takes a sip of her coffee and decides to do something about aforestation. She thinks about a land full of trees planted by her and how they’ll grow over years! She is enigmatic!!

Excited, she gets up from her cubicle to share the idea across with all her colleagues. Each step she takes, she is hit by 10x noise leaving her dumbfounded and hallucinating! Her mind indulges her into various conversations, ‘How can I share this idea and get trees planted? I cannot even greet my colleagues or mama at the gate! I’m a perfectionist and good at what I do, but I am not good with people – I’ll do this on my own – but I want to make this big – I want everyone to align for this and make it a grand tree plantation drive – But will I be able to do it?!’ Suddenly, she controls her mind and stops those thoughts arriving at a decision – I’m going to make this happen, I’ll raise Rs. 10,000 for the saplings and invite people to be a part of this project!!

It was that moment that transformed her life forever!

After some research, she created her pitch for selling this through – and it was awesome; she was in media after all and that was her day to day work! She printed that pitch and filed it; only to be opened after a fortnight accidentally. The thoughts of inability and fear gripped her again, but she was not going to back down – she checked up some NGOs who work in the field of aforestation and got in touch with Upasana NGO to plant trees in a newly opened school for tribal kids in Vasai. So now she had a venue and a partner; all she needed was participation of people to make this dream come true!

Discussing it with people was where the struggle started – the idea was good and was going to work – but she would have to approach and talk to people for sapling and money donations! She took this task head on and with zeal. In conversation with first colleague, her colleague could feel her passion for aforestation and was totally in for the noble cause! Those five minutes seemed like forever, but after that, a huge bridge was created between them. She opened up a bit that day and felt good about it. That made her realise how wrong she is about herself – I’m not an introvert; I’ve just not given myself enough chances to talk to and be with people. I’m now opening my life for others to contribute to it!

The first conversation was tough, but it happened. After that she kept going on, one conversation at a time and found it pretty easy to do! She just found herself to be unstoppable. Other people realised how creative and lively she was and donated for her cause.

Three days to the scheduled tree plantation drive and she was yet to reach her target of Rs. 10,000. She had exhausted all people she was fine with trying talking to. She mustered the strength and approached her building friends and relatives to chip in!

The night before the drive, she had fulfilled her target and slept in peace, waiting for the sun to rise next day. She had made surprise arrangements for the donors and friends who were going to accompany her to the site.

She met her friends at Vasai, they bought a truck full of saplings with the money collected and gathered in the backyard of the school. School kids looked at them with excitement and curiosity. The NGO of Upasana made a shallow broad planting hole in the soil and asked her to initiate the plantation drive. She placed the sapling inside the hole, covering it gently with soil in a firm manner and watered the sapling. She placed a name tag in the shape of a leaf on the sapling stem – It read ‘Deepa’.

Soon, other friends started planting the saplings and Deepa helped them. She had named each tree on the basis of donors who had contributed for the cause. There was a gleam of joy in her eyes as she stood there imagining a fully grown trees in front of her. Today, she had made an impact in the world- created a better future!

Note – This is a true story of a plantation drive carried out by Deepa Zakade in Tungareshwar Academy Highschool for Tribal kids, Vasai. Deepa is born and brought up in Mumbai. She completed her BMS from Tolani college of commerce and presently works as a media planner and buyer in Lodestar Media Agency. She loves singing and has trained in Indian Classical Music. Music is her energy booster! Her community project helped her get out of the label she had tagged herself with – ‘introvert’ and remove it forever! Talking to various people about her dream helped her discover more things about herself and in the process transform her listening. She believes and requests each one of us to stand for a cause and do it without any doubts!

Deepa Zakade, with her sapling!
A sapling with my name!!!

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