Cutting down the Fish Tail Palm, Pilerne, Goa

Cutting down the Fish Tail Palm, Pilerne, Goa
Several years ago my brother John who has washed his hands off the property in a fit of pique with my Dad, came out of curiosity to the homestead. He looked at the still young fish tailed palm and said no no, don’t cut it, it looks lovely and they are expensive. Who was to think a decade later we would suffer like we did.

The palm had gown on its own alongside the front wall and the roots had begun to crack the front wall. Calling in a man to cut the tree he said, without batting an eyelid – It will cost you Rs 2000 because it is very ‘harrrrd’ wood and I have to hire an electric saw. .

I decided to leave the tree alone thinking the problem would disappear. No such luck. The rains thickened it every season and in one season it made both the side wall and the front all bloom as old walls are made of mud. It had to go or we would have to immediately rebuild the wall.

The man arrived and refused to budge from his price == quoting more now as the tree was bigger by 2ft. He brought a big sword like electric saw and even then had to use all his might to cut off the top, sawing and sawing with powder flying all over. Ropes had secured it and three men stood away from the house to pull it down. When the blade reached ¾ of the depth, Bhujang the caretaker and the other warriors pulled and it swayed in defiance the other way. They pulled and pulled, but the tree stood tall. Just quivering, when the blade was used again. My heart bled for it, but it had to go.

Again the three men pulled and suddenly with a whoosh and a crackle the whole crown swung in an arc and fell in the open area with a thud. Still most of the trunk stood and they began their attack again. The saw whined and the wood-cutter had to use his might behind it. The men pushed it inwards as otherwise the wall would have gone with it. Now the whole trunk had to be hacked into three and slowly carried over the wall and thrown out.

Ten minutes or maybe max 15 minutes and a beautiful palm and a piece of my heart went after decades of beautifying our home. I could not get myself to look at it lying on its side and already drying in the heat.

Money changed hands, the blade was wrapped up, the long wire plug too, and they were gone leaving me feeling bereft. But I will never make that mistake again. Taking a walk along the entire house boundary, we checked for baby fish tailed palms and there were THREE, all sprouted along the wall. Quick as a wink I sliced them out of the soil with the sharpest knife we had. We did not have double of Rs2000 to cut down the palms progeny ever again.

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