hand painted water colour world environment day illustration (source:freepik.com)

A Lifelong Love Affair: A Man’s Devotion to a Tree Spanning Over Four Decades.

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In the quiet town of Bharananganam, nestled on the banks of the picturesque Meenachil River, a love story unfolded that defied conventional norms. Over four decades ago, a young college student found himself captivated by the enchanting beauty of a Chela tree, also known as the Indian Bat Tree, gracefully spreading its aerial roots on a neighboring palm tree. Little did he know that this encounter would spark a lifelong devotion, filled with love and perseverance.

Meet Pius Scaria Pottenkulam, a now 66-year-old planter and businessman from Kanjirappally. As a student, Pius would frequently pass by this mesmerizing tree during his daily commute from his home in Pinnakkanadu near Erattupetta to the town of Pala. The tree’s intricate network of aerial roots fascinated him, leaving an indelible mark on his heart.
Life took Pius on a journey to Kolkata, where he pursued his dreams and established a successful rubber business. Despite the physical distance, the memory of his beloved Chela tree lingered, forever etched in his mind. Whenever Pius returned home, he would come and appreciate the majestic tree, observing its every detail. However, as time passed, a disheartening sight awaited him—the leaves of the Chela tree began to wither, signaling its imminent demise.
Filled with an overwhelming sense of loss, Pius could not bear the thought of the tree’s demise going unnoticed. As he affectionately cradled the tree home, he knew he had spared it from being reduced to mere firewood.
For Pius, the arduous task of preserving the Chela tree’s essence began. It took him nearly six months to safely detach the intricate web of roots from the palm tree stump, a process he diligently undertook during his visits home from Kolkata. With unwavering dedication, Pius meticulously polished the tree, honoring its former grandeur. Finally, he found the perfect place for his cherished treasure—the tree now stood as a centerpiece in his own drawing room.
In 1993, when Pius relocated to Kottayam after concluding his business in Kolkata, he took the Chela tree with him, ensuring its safe passage to their new abode. Today, on yet another celebration of World Environment Day, Pius Scaria Pottenkulam’s extraordinary love story serves as a poignant reminder of our responsibility towards nature.

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