Niki Radman is a writer and an English Literature/ Film & TV student at the University of Glasgow. Her text ‘Arbor’ was translated into German by Susi Radman, whose studies in Italian and French have helped nourish a continuing passion for linguistics and literature. ‘Arbor’ describes a boy’s unwitting metamorphosis while ultimately speaking to the complex energy of apparent stillness.
He found himself outside of his bed, outside of his room, outside of his house and anchored right in the middle of the park, near the statue of the American man. He stood there on the slope, looking down at the blinking lights behind the Clyde. It was only about a minute into his solemn gazing that he realised he was now not boy, but tree. A sturdy, half-tenement high, flourishing tree, right there at the centre of everything. Human life was still moving around him at a steady pace, perfectly unaware that his branches had been arms and his roots had been feet only minutes ago. Not a single head turned and wondered whether his stem had been a spine once. There was something very lonely in how they suddenly seemed to have forgotten about him. Or rather, they had to have a vague sense that he was there but would never have looked up, never looked at him consciously and taken in all his features, never seen the deep cracks that ran through his bark in always new and surprising patterns.
At first, he wanted to reach out to someone, yell ‘Hey! I am in here!’. Soon, this urge subsided. He started to feel pretty good about himself, tall and old and kind of majestic. In the short time he had stood there on the grassy slope letting life wash past him, he began to discern a slight but unceasing hum, which spread from the wet soil into the leaf closest to the sun. A single bird, attracted by the vague promise of warmer days, descended to rest on one of his branches. He focused once again on the familiar shapes that circled him on their way to work, to university, on a dog walk, on their way to meet a friend. Everyone seemed in such a hurry to get somewhere. In this cold, no one wasted more than a brief, accidental second on the idea that he was even a part of the world’s fabric. But when spring and summer came around, he knew that they would sit down on the grass and rest their backs against his bark. They would put their picknick blankets out and conversations would travel up to his crown like smoke from their barbecue trays. The image soothed him. It was only when he remembered the other trees, the ones that smelled like Christmas, lying abandoned and sad by the side of Kelvin Way in late January, that his melancholy crept back in. His season was just beginning. Their only purpose now was to serve as a faint reminder of a joyous but shortlived celebration while everyone already counted down the minutes to the first day of spring. He was one of the lucky ones, really.