Every time I look out of my study window in Mangalore, I am reminded of the poet Joyce Kilmer who wrote “I think that I shall never see a poem lovely as a tree”. The ample coconut trees of Mangalore is a feast for the eyes. A land filled with coconut trees brings all kinds of pleasant memories to any one. A famous Malayalam song “Naaligarathinte nattil enikkoru” talks the happiness of owning space in the land of coconut trees. Such a place is synonymous with contentment, happiness, relaxation, and peace. The poet William Wordsworth writes.
“For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils”.
The picture is the scene outside my study window in 2008
This is the same place today
I, often, replace the daffodils with coconut trees of Mangalore when I read the words of Wordsworth. Coconut has many health benefits. Coconut water is a popular drink often given to sick people for gaining instant energy. Coconut oil works wonders for oral hygiene and hair growth. The culinary contribution of coconut in curries and sweets is well known. Coconut fiber is used to make coir. Coconut leaves are used for thatching roofs. Coconut shells are used as bowls and fuel. In fact, every part of the coconut tree is said to be useful. Without much ado, we might safely say, that coconut trees are great to have around.
Unfortunately, the coconut trees of Mangalore are fast disappearing. Houses prop up every day and landscapes become unrecognizable within a span of couple of years. The famous naturalist and preservationist, John Muir, writes “God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches and a thousand tempests and floods. But he cannot save them from fools”. We must act now to save Mangalore’s coconut trees. For every tree cut, let us plant two. We must save Mangalore from going the way of Bangalore or Poona. These cities have turned in to concrete jungles. A decade back, a visit to these cities would generate memories of plenty of greenery. Now, sadly, the trees are all gone.
The coconut trees of Mangalore make a precarious sight. Their very existence is under threat. I may not see them tomorrow. Martin Luther once said “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree”. I, sincerely, wish the city of Mangalore makes a similar decision about coconut trees.