The Chair that Wanted to be a Tree
written and illustrated by uzma taj
There was once a wooden chair. The chair lived in a house on Albert Street in a small town called Burnley in Lancashire, England. The chair was placed in the front living room facing a pair of tall, grand windows, overlooking a busy road.
The chair would polish herself every day so she always looked sparkly and clean. The chair had descended from a strong family of oak trees; she was a beautiful walnut brown. Every morning she would tilt on her front legs to see the sun creeping over the hills in the far distance. You see this chair had a dream: she loved being a chair, but she longed to be a tree. The sofa, the clock and the tomato plant would tell her she was silly to have such a dream. They would also remind the chair how cold it was outside and how she would not like the dream even if it came true.
So the chair would watch the rain, listen to the wind and wonder at the snow. No matter the weather, the chair’s dream never changed. She wanted to be a tree, and so it happened that on a day when the sun smiled with promises, the chair decided it was time to leave and become a tree. She would be sad to go, not only did she love her friends in the living room, but she loved the little girl who would curl up on her seat and read many beautiful books.
Taking her cleaning cloth and wood polish, the chair left the house on a crisp Thursday morning just as the sun was rising. The sofa, the clock and the tomato plant said goodbye rather worriedly, hoping the chair would change her mind. Realising there was nothing they could do, with hands on their hearts, they bowed, hugged and sent their prayers with the chair. The chair didn’t say goodbye to the family, as she had decided that would be far too sad. She left a little note full of prayers.
It was a long walk to the forest, so she waited at the bus stop hoping she could catch a ride part of the way. The bus was ten minutes late, and an old man kindly helped her step onto the bus. She didn't have any money, but the bus driver didn't seem to mind.
The old man was fascinated by her story. He tried to explain to the chair that it would be impossible to be a tree because she didn't have any roots. The chair dismissed the old man quite quickly; she wanted to be a tree and was very positive about her dream. The old man realised that it was silly to argue with such a positive attitude and rather worriedly gave his prayers instead. The chair offered herself as a seat to the old man. The old man thought the chair was the most comfortable chair he had ever sat on.
As the bus stopped near a country lane heading to the forest, the bus driver advised the chair that this would be the best place to get off. The old man, the bus driver and three other passengers waved goodbye as the chair hobbled along on the country path to the forest. All prayed silently that the chair would not be too disappointed to remain a chair.
It took three hours to walk into the centre of the forest. It was a kind day, so the walk was pleasant. The trees, the flowers, the birds and a few rabbits watched, quietly curious, as the chair walked by with such confidence. They wondered what a chair was doing in such a dense forest, with no houses around. Is the chair lost? they thought.
The chair wandered awhile looking for a perfect place to be a tree. She soon saw a beautiful patch of grass surrounded by wild flowers and with the sound of the river nearby. Perfect! she thought. She walked over, dug her four wooden legs into the soil and sat still. The animals that had followed her drew close, the flowers drew closer, the trees leaned in with their branches. “How curious! What is this chair trying to do?” they asked. The chair smiled and explained her dream, at which the animals, the flowers, the trees and even the wind began to laugh. “How funny! A chair cannot be a tree! You are chair, so be a chair!”
Now, you would think such laughter and disbelief would make the chair sad, or even make the chair change her mind – a little. But the chair just smiled and watched the beautiful sun set through the light of the forest. I have a dream, she thought, I want to be a tree.
Days passed by , becoming months, then years. No longer did anyone laugh at the chair, but animals would travel the forest just to see the chair who wanted to be a tree. The chair looked very odd in the forest, especially as she was sparkly and clean (the chair would never forget to polish herself everyday). Sometimes humans would come by, always struck by the chair amongst the giant trees.
After many years, during one particularly harsh winter, the chair fell into a deep sleep. Many animals would sleep during winter so this was not so strange. When the chair woke up in spring, she found she was a little taller. The chair had been in the forest for so long she had nearly forgotten her dream, so the chair paid no particular attention to it. She was quite content and used to her new life of being a chair in the middle of a tall forest.
As the days went by, the chair became taller and taller. There was no denying it – the chair was growing. The animals, flowers and trees breathed a sigh of relief. They loved the chair and they had wished their own dreams away, praying, “Oh please, dear Earth, let this chair be a tree”. Soon branches began squeezing themselves around the chair, and in the following summer the chair was covered with leaves and flowers. Animals ran around the chair in joy. As the seasons passed the chair grew tall and strong. Still shining her chair-ness among the entwined branches.
One day during the peak of summer a young gentleman came by searching for the legendary chair that wanted to be a tree. The young gentleman was the grandson of the old man who had helped the chair get onto the bus. He had heard the story as a child, and rumours had reached the town of a tree becoming a chair. Wandering through the forest searching, he finally saw the chair. It was peculiar and beautiful. An oak tree had grown underneath the chair and lifted the chair up into the sky. The oak tree had wrapped its branches around the chair. The chair sat nested deep within the tree. Still a chair, but also a tree, it was a beautiful sight. The chair seemed to dance in the light, and the flowers, birds and trees gleamed nearby in happiness. The young gentleman smiled with all his heart.