How Mr. Miyawaki Broke My Heart

Fazal Rashid & Somil Daga

It was half past midnight as we peeled our eyes off our computer screens. My colleague and I  leaned back to discuss whether the jhadber – a wild cousin of the common ber – is a ‘shrub’ or a ‘sub-tree’. “It does grow tree-like in Delhi and westwards,” I said. From the process documents we’d learnt that the ‘shrub layer’ was supposed to grow to a maximum of ‘human height’, no taller. We looked up the global average for human height. Fair enough. Glossing over its ecological complexities, we pronounced the jhadber a ‘shrub’ and moved on. Next step: to calculate how many jhadber saplings we’d need to ensure it constitutes exactly 8-12% of our so-called ‘native forest’. Apparently, the 8-12 range is the prescribed percentage of shrubs in forests across India (perhaps even the world).

This was one of the first times we were creating a ‘native forest’ on our laptop screens. We felt like we’d found our ikigai. This work demanded meticulousness and a…