Uprooted Divar tree still rooted in Goa's memory

Divadkars hope to replace it with a new sapling after tree expert says the fallen tree can't be revived
LOST FOREVER: Divadkars have lost one of their well-known icons.
LOST FOREVER: Divadkars have lost one of their well-known icons. Photo: Rohan Fernandes

It wasn’t just any tree. In the years past, it was like a lighthouse guiding the villagers walking through the fields, it was the resting place after a game of soccer for the children and youth. And over the last few years, for the discerning tourists, it was a quick stop for a photo-op or selfie.

Remember the movie Finding Fanny or the Hutch commercial that had this mango tree in the middle of the fields? Well, one couldn't miss this icon standing tall and wide.

Gusty winds and the rains brought the tree down, and for many the otherwise grey Sunday, turned gloomier.

LOST FOREVER: Divadkars have lost one of their well-known icons.
Take the ferry to Goa's Divar Island and get mesmerised

Emerging from the Ribandar ferry and heading towards the residential part of Divar, for the villagers of the island, that single tree in the field held a special place in their hearts. And, today, as it lies uprooted, there’s a void that comes with losing someone that was truly loved.

Surrounded by prancing fields, the lone mango tree along the Sao Pedro ferry route stood tall for decades, but when it met its fate it saddened all those who shared some special memories with it.

NO MORE: The fallen tree being cleared from the road on Sunday, July 7, 2024.
NO MORE: The fallen tree being cleared from the road on Sunday, July 7, 2024. Photo: Prasad Pednekar

Speaking over the phone to Gomantak Times Digital from the spot where the tree fell, Simon Gomes from Primeiro Waddo turned nostalgic. “I remember my young days when we rested under the shade of this iconic tree after our football matches. I also can’t forget the small parties and get-togethers we have had at the place,” he recalled. 

Sarpanch Mario Pinto, who was also on the spot, said, "I grew up looking at the tree and have memories of it for the past 50 years and more. It's very hard to say who planted the tree, but it is someone from the Remedios family on the island."

SCENIC CENTREPIECE: The tree's towering presence could be seen from far and wide.
SCENIC CENTREPIECE: The tree's towering presence could be seen from far and wide.

He added, "Everyone in Divar carries memories of this tree and no tourist has ever left the island without clicking a picture standing by its side. The panchayat had developed the place because of the iconic status of the tree."

Not just to her villagers, the tree enticed every visitor to the island who’d pull out their phones and capture a picture of the tree that exuded beauty in every frame.

FILMY BACKDROP: A film still of the movie, 'Finding Fanny' at the iconic tree.
FILMY BACKDROP: A film still of the movie, 'Finding Fanny' at the iconic tree.

The devastating news of the tree broke many hearts yesterday. And it didn’t take much time for many to share memories on social media, a loss that has bought about a sense of grief and flooded many with fond memories they had of the tree.

“This was about 43 years ago,” reminisced Mario Gonsalves, a local from the island. Those were the days when Divar had no lights, but it made no difference as all of us enjoyed every moment of life, he added.

LOST FOREVER: Divadkars have lost one of their well-known icons.
Move over 'Thriller'! It's 'Potekar' time in Goa's Divar

This huge tree that stood in the middle of nowhere brought him great delight.

“We used to go fishing at Ribandar jetty, there was neither ferry nor road. We used to walk, so you can just imagine what it was like. Yes, home for us was half way through but this single tree on our vast land was a light house without light,” shares Mario.

As a last resort, many reached out to plant expert Daniel D'Souza to help restore the iconic tree. “It breaks my heart to see such a huge mango tree, which is over 100 years old, down on the ground, and the worst part is that I can't revive it,” lamented Daniel after inspecting the tree.

BROKEN: With no roots left, the tree has no chance to be replanted.
BROKEN: With no roots left, the tree has no chance to be replanted. Photo: Daniel D'Souza

"The whole tree has broken from the base and there are no roots left," he said adding that there were actually two trees very close to each other. "The other tree is a strangling tree, which was clinging to the host tree. The strangling tree choked the host tree," he described.

Explaining one of the probable reasons why the tree fell via a video, he observed, "One of the reasons the main tree came down is because of the additional weight of the strangling tree." He advised anyone who sees a strangling tree on their fruit-bearing tree to get rid of it as it will kill the original tree.  

DIVAR'S IDENTITY: The loss has saddened all those who’ve shared some special memories with it.
DIVAR'S IDENTITY: The loss has saddened all those who’ve shared some special memories with it. Photo: Rohan Fernandes

They say grief is the price we pay for loving. And youngsters who’ve simply grown up under the comforting shadows of its branches know the tree was in fact not just a tree.

“To me, the mango tree was a symbol of Divar Island's identity,” said Savio Monteiro, another islander. The stretch of Divar Road, flanked by paddy fields and centred by this humongous mango tree made both, the village road and island, incredibly scenic.

Sometimes tomorrow starts without a loved one, and as for the villagers, they will just have to move on and cope with this loss. “The uprooting of the tree is a significant loss to Divar Island's identity, and we hope to replace it with a beautiful new sapling soon,” adds Savio.

And when the new sapling starts branching out, it will serve as a reminder of what once stood tall and the memories it carried.

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