Monday, July 14, 2008

A tree of death?

The photograph above is that of one of the oldest trees in Olavipe. It is a huge mango tree on our estate which I had featured in MANGO TREE Vs. COCONUT TREE - Elbowing in the sky.

One of the details which is not clear in the picture is that the tree has no low branches. It used to have once upon a time, but not any longer. Therein lies a story. Long after the tree stopped yielding it still served a noble purpose.

The practice in Olavipe till recently was that we provided pyre wood for cremating the bodies of our Hindu employees when they die. This is one of the trees earmarked for that use.

Looking at the stubs of the branches that have been cut off, some of the elders can recall for whose cremation the wood was utilized. That brings back memories of the people who have passed on.

What would happen to the tree now? The remaining branches are too high and that makes cutting them down difficult. The wood of mango trees is not considered good for house construction or for making furniture though some people do use them. This tree is unlikely to get uprooted for decades to come because of its buttress roots. See the photo below:

But at sometime a tree has to go, vacating the space it had occupied to permit new growth. That is the way of life. In Kerala there is the legend of Perumthachan, the master craftsman and builder who would prayerfully seek permission from an old tree before cutting it down. Japan has the story of Orosu, a touching narration of the love affair between a girl and a tree. You can read it at:

This mango tree too has to go. But in death it would still serve a purpose. The idea is to fell it and donate the suitable parts to a storage facility from where people can draw hard to get pyre wood for cremation.


Photos by me. Copyright reserved. Click on them for enlarged view.

Also see:

Cremation woes


Sunita said...

Its more of a Memory Tree, isnt it?
It certainly doesnt look as if it's headed for the Great Timber Yard in the Sky anytime soon. In the meantime, you could always grow orchids on it. Can you picture how stunning it would look in bloom? Just tie on some bare-root dendrobium orchids at various heights, water it once in a while till it settles in and then forget about it till you see gorgeous, arching orchid spikes. And your mango tree will soon be remembered for something else altogether.

PT. New said...

We have some collections of teak patio furniture made of solid teak plantation wood grade A only from Indonesia.
Thank you.
Charles Siahaan.

Nebu said...

Your blog has become very popular and attract so much traffic that people have started advertising in it on the sly.

Maddy said...

abe - i think you should take a look at the book 'oru puli marathinde katha' by Sura. I had reviewed it some time back. the book is available in kerala...


Trees, the mute support system - in life or death, whether they bloom, bear fruit or not... this post makes you want to think

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thanks, sunita. Perhaps we should have a rethink.

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thanks for pointing it out, Nebu. I had noticed too. May be I should introduce pre-clearance before comments appear on the site,

Abraham Tharakan said...

Thanks, Maddy. I'll try to get hold of a copy of the book.

Abraham Tharakan said...

That is profound, Raji.