Plants Have Feelings Too

I was a young and aspirational officer cadet in the infantry wing of OCS. We ere supposed to complete a jungle confidence course as part of our Officer Cadet Course. As a prelude to the actual test in Brunei, we were at P.Tekong for a three days JCC Preparatory Course.

The survival sites were situated on both sides of a narrow and dark track running almost vertically at the norther side of the island. It was told to us that this track actually leads to a hot spring (the only other one in whole of Singapore), and will bypasss some infamous row of toilets where no human beings would want to be in…..

I was partnered with this malay platoon mate Sab, who claimed he can see “Things”… Everything went quite smoothly. We spent one whole day gathering the woods to build our two man shelther. Soon it was early evening, and we decided it was time to go gather more materials before darkness fall. We wanted to continue work in the dark later on that night.

So we went separate ways. I was in charge of gathering some attap chee tree leaves for the overhead covering. As the attap chee trees were situated at a swamp about 300m to the back of our site, i had to bash through a thick section of the jungle to get there.

When i looked at the thick foliage, i suddenly remembered my Platoon Commander, LTA Ezekiel`s advice at the start of the preparatory corse.

“Please treat the jungle with respect. And it will protect you through this course.”

I pondered for a moment.

“Should i just bash through the foliage? Sir said that we should respect the plants here…. damned…. its getting dark soon… i better hack all these things away to make a path so that we can make use of it to go to the swamp at night…..”

Soon, i had forgotten that golden advice.. and was hacking my way through the foliage rather easily….

When i reached the swamp… many other platoon mates were there hacking the attap chee leaves for their overhead covering also. I quickly set to work and soon i had eight pieces of very big leaves for my roofing. I was pleased with myself.

Then i put my parang back into its scabbard and secured the whole thing tightly with two black rubber bands. I tried to take out the parang but i could not do so, as the parang was secured very tightly. Then i pulled four leaves and started to make my way back into the path i had created earlier on. i planned to make two trips for the leaves…..

Without any effort, i was back at my own site. I threw the leaves on the ground and when i wanted to take my parang to hack away some of the dead parts of the leaves, i found, to my horror, nothing in the scabbard. The rubber bands were undone but the parang was nowhere to be seen.

I started to panick… It was a sticky business to lose any equipments in my platoon. Imagine what the instructors would say….. How can i continue my work? I started to calm myself down and think of the possible reason for the dissapearance of the parang.

The thing could not have fallen out as i had remembered very clearly that it was attached very securely.

I turn back into the path with my big L-Torch. I walked very slowly and started to comb the path. This was the only route i had taken. If it had dropped off it must have been in the path.

I reached the swamp but my parang was nowhere to be found. I started to perspire profusely.

“Where has it gone to???”

“Who could have taken it from my scabbard?”

I could not explain as i finished five rounds in the path. I sat down on the ground and think. My buddy Sab was still out. I need a parang to clear the leaves at the moment. If not i could not carry on with other work. Thus, i decided to go over to the next site and look for my friend, Branden.

I walked briskly over and told him my situation. He was still using his parang and so i walked around and waited. I decided to look around for fruits as i had nothing since breakfast at 5 am that morning.

I strolled through the surrounding area. It was getting darker.

Soon, i froze…

There was a short stout tree standing in front of me… what had made me freeze was the fact that my parang was hanging on one of the branches of the stout tree!

I can recognise the parang because of the distinct blue paint on the handle of the parang. I painted it blue bacause i can identify it as mine should it get lost.

Suddenly the wind started to blow in the still jungle… i felt cold and my goose bunps and hair started to stand…..

What was my parang doing on the branch of the tree as if it was holding it… while facing me….

The eerie tree looked as if it had been folowing me and meant to stunble in front of me…

It had looked like it had snatched my parang away from me….

It had looked like it was trying to stop me from destroying its commrades earlier on….

Then LTA Ezekiel`s advice came back almost immediately….

“Please treat the jungle with respect. And it will protect you through this course.”

From that moment onwards, i started to understand these words of advice and vowed to respect all plants in future…


i slowly crept up to the tree and retrieve my parang… i even offered word of apology to the tree out of extreme fear….

Do you believe that plants and trees have spirits in them too?

Do you believe that we are hurting the plants when we destroy them?

And that they do have feelings… just like all of us ……

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