The Celestial Tree
I am Arti and I work as a telecommunications engineer in the city of Bangalore. I just can’t wait for the weekend that’s coming up. I am visiting my grandparents with my first salary. I know they have a lot to share about how they felt about their first job and what they did when they got their first salary.
I had a broad grin all along my shopping spree. I was lucky the shops were not too crowded and I could even pick a few sweets that my grandma would hide in her kitchen refusing to share with anyone else.
She is just too adorable and you will see why.
My greedy taste buds could not wait for the plate of chiroti ( a special sweet made out of rava, rice flour and butter)that she would keep ready to stuff into my mouth as soon as I would meet her.
After a few mouthfuls of chiroti served with delicious badam milk and exchanging gifts, I sat down for lunch. I looked forward to all the dishes that my grandma would specially prepare for me with generous use of coconut that was either grated, ground, roasted or in any other form to enhance her cooking.
We retired to our favourite place in the backyard where my grandpa usually lay down on his cot watching me and grandpa gossip away. The shade and the breeze in the backyard were quite welcoming as always. My grandma had her own garden of vegetables, fruits and flowers and beyond that was my grandpa’s farm.
As a kid, I would always try writing down the names of the trees and counting them with never-ending enthusiasm. If I got tired, I would sip some sweet coconut water and run around the farm.
My grandpa had around 400 coconut trees along with mango, guava, papaya, jackfruit and other trees.
After enquiring about my job and some long pending advice about healthy eating, the favourite part of the conversation came up.
It’s never boring listening to how my grandpa came to the village with absolutely nothing but a dhoti, a shirt and no footwear. My grandma oft repeats how he sat under a coconut tree for shade and how someone in the village offered him coconut water to appease his hunger pangs.
Later my grandpa had joined as a labourer in the coconut farm of the village landlord who got him married to the daughter of another laborer in the farm. As a wedding gift, the kindhearted landlord gave the couple, 10 coconut trees and a piece of land in the village. The newlywed built their first home from coconut leaves and wood. They saved every extra penny to take good care of the coconut trees which grew up and gave back in plenty. The coconut trees do help in many ways in its every single form — flesh, trunk, fruit, husk, coir, wood, shell, roots etc.
My grandma made good use of her free time carving dried coconut shells and coconut fibre into interesting items like toys, musical instruments, hair clips, bowls, birds, animals etc. The coconut trees gave them their bread and butter and they slowly started planting more trees to help others in the community and to pass on the goodness they had received.
My grandpa became a landlord who created employment opportunities through his coconut grove and also boosted community farming.
He has been encouraging people to learn more about the “Kalpavriksha” meaning ever-giving coconut tree and the benefits of coconut farming.
As I sip some coconut water, I turn around to glance at my grandfather who is gifting a few coconut saplings to a young boy, a new farmer in the making.