Dear Readers, you may notice the dates of the Blog do not match the Flash Post dates which are in real time. The blog was written in 2009 and saw the light of day 6 months back when my younger daughter discovered it and decided to bring it to you here.
The Walking Tree | Flash Post 404

The Walking Tree | Flash Post 404

Button, I read a lovely piece in one of the e-papers some time back about an uprooted Banyan tree in Goa but before I continue, I’d like to tell you a little about the history of the banyan.

That could be interesting.

The mighty banyan tree starts out as a plant that grows when its seed germinates in the crack of a host tree. This is because most banyans grow in woodlands and a seedling would not be able to survive in the undergrowth. As tender stalks grow into branches, they spread quickly, sending down aerial roots that go deep into the soil to provide support as well as nourishment to the growing tree and ends up smothering and killing the host tree. At first glance a banyan tree may seem like a forest but it’s actually not. It’s a single tree that has grown laterally for miles which gives it the name of the “walking” tree. The one on Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Gardens in Kolkata is two and a half centuries old and spreads over the better part of five acres and has roughly 3,600 aerial roots.

Have you seen this tree?

That was many years back.

And what about the banyan tree in Goa?

It was felled recently by a storm that struck the state.

Did it die?

The banyan tree stood on a plot of land owned by Sebastiana Fernandes. She would sit underneath it on hot summer afternoons and watch the world go by. She also sold tender coconut water to tourists and earned some petty cash in the process. At times she would watch squirrels play and chatter endlessly. She had adopted a few strays as well and a cow who would come and rest under the tree every afternoon after grazing on a nearby field. Foreigners would organise dance festivals and dance the night away under the canopy of the banyan. Sebastiana never turned anyone away and life couldn’t have been better.

And then?

After the tree collapsed, Sebastiana was inconsolable. She thought she had lost the banyan tree forever. Locals who knew of the tree and how much it meant to her and so many others got together and decided to do something.

Were they able to do something about the tree?

They formed a committee, put up the news on Facebook and Instagram requesting people, especially those who knew of “The Source”, the name by which the banyan is known across the Internet, to donate whatever they could so they could try and resurrect her. The response was overwhelming and almost immediate. People from all across the globe, especially those who had visited Goa and never failed to drop by contributed to this fund and raised close to 2 lakh of rupees.  The locals went to work. Biodiversity groups pitched in with logistics and planning and even flew down a tree expert from Hyderabad.

Nandan Tiwari, a migrant from Bihar, who works a particular kind of machine at mining sites and to raze massive trees, used it for the very first time to give life and that too, to a tree. After several attempts and many ropes splintering, Goans sending up prayers and tourists whistling and encouraging those at work to show that they were all together in this, the main bulk of the tree was made to stand again. Even a silver snake whose house was the banyan, peeped out everytime the machine worked on the tree to make sure his house was safe.

What happened next?

Sebastiana sighed in relief to see the banyan up again because the banyan wasn’t just a tree for her. She was like a member of the family.

Thank you for sharing.

Krishna, the tree expert, held a class for the locals to teach them how to nurse the banyan back to health. A board will be put up shortly saying “This tree had an accident and is recovering. Please respect her and co-operate”.

That’s so sweet.

The bull is back under the banyan chewing cud like old times. So are the strays. Sebastiana sends up a small prayer for the banyan everyday and things seem normal once again.

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