Illustration by Đàm Minh Chí
Trees, flowers and other beautiful greenery are closely associated with school memories for many of us.
When seeing such greenery, people remember their good memories at school, teachers, friends and tough but important exams.
Phượng vỹ (flamboyant) trees are loved in particular for their special beauty, crimson for not only one flower, but a whole range. Their colour is like thousands of butterflies perched together. The flowers of the tree bring happiness to students as they come in summer when they have fulfilled one more school year.
The flowers are beautiful and lovely, but, after a heart-breaking accident when one of the trees fell in a schoolyard and killed one student and injured many others, several schools decided to fell all of their flamboyant trees.
The accident happened two weeks ago at Bạch Đằng Junior Secondary School in District 3, HCM City. Many have argued if the tree had been checked regularly or timely before the rainy season the accident could have been avoided and that there's no need to cut them all down for good.
Nguyễn Thị Loan, a teacher of a junior secondary school in Hà Nội, said the image of the trees had been in music and poems for generations as a symbol of summer.
“The image is also a topic in literature, so we should find a way to improve the situation, instead of destroying all of them. Keeping flamboyant trees at school while ensuring safety is a good and responsible measure,” she said.
The trees also create a green pure atmosphere at schools, especially in big cities.
They encouraged students to mix with nature and brought balanced development in physical and spiritual aspects, said Loan.
The plan to chop down the trees has also received opposition from students who like to pose for photos with the splendid flowers.
Nguyễn Thu Hương, a 12th grader in Hà Nội, said: “I would want to cry if all of the flamboyant trees were cut down”.
Hương and her friends have many memories of the trees from their days at school, so she said she wished schools would make efforts to keep the trees and make them safer using stakes and by trimming the branches.
“I believe that not only me but many other students want to grow up beside the trees at schools,” she said.
Professor Trần Văn Chứ, principal of the Vietnam National University of Forestry, said the trees bore no fault in the case.
“A flamboyant tree falls down today, we cut down all the others. If a tree falls down in the forest tomorrow, shall we cut down all of the forest?” he asked.
It’s right to trim big and old trees, but it’s completely wrong to cut down all the trees hastily.
“Cutting down all flamboyant trees would be a shortage of understanding and irresponsibility for the future,” said Chứ.
“Any kind of tree gets older with time. But if we take care of them scientifically since they are small, they will not betray our feelings,” he said.
Agreeing with Chứ, Ngô Bá Kính, head of the Technology Division under the HCM City Greenery Parks Co Ltd, said it took a long time to grown a new tree.
Before cutting down, or trimming a tree, careful research was needed he said, adding that trees which are more than 20 years should be periodically checked following consultancy from professional organisations.
It’s easy to fell a tree, but it takes years to grow a new one.
The northern city of Hải Phòng is not only famous for being the main port city of the country, but also for the many flamboyant trees around the city. In the central part of the country, Huế City has stunning flamboyant trees around the Hương (Perfume) River. Rain or shine, the trees proudly stand and witness the cities’ development and beautify people’s lives.
The flowers are a good memory of childhood, and also bring a fine view in modern life.
They are such lovely and brilliant trees. I, and I’m sure many other people hope that flamboyant trees will continue to exist in schools and be a good friend of school age. — VNS