Chapter 1: Dawn in the Coconut Triangle
Out in the coastal tropics of the Island, where an abundance of palm trees line white sands reaching out into the sapphire blue Indian Ocean, dawn breaks as the call of the morning birds begins. It’s 4.30 AM as Sanjaya arises, night still cast upon the dense forested regions of the coconut triangle, as he steps out into the warm humid morning air. Barefoot, he presses his soles into the dusty earth to feel the coolness of the soil, before setting out, his bare chest beginning to perspire as the sun gradually reveals itself to a hot April morning. As the golden hues begin to gleam from corners of clouds, its rays fall upon the tips of palm leaves, creeping through to the ground beneath, and cast upon Sanjaya’s steps as he paces gracefully out into the day, calmly assured in his day’s labour. The choral song of indigenous birds and insects chimes in the air, the rustling of trees in gushing winds and cracks of twigs beneath feet – this truly is the sound of these lands.
Advancing out into the wide expanse of coconut trees, equipped with his tools, he scans the planes of towering fully developed coconut trees, observing each with knowledge of their life course as if each were a known neighbour, well acquainted, grateful to their abundant generosity towards him, ever watchful for the ripe and nourishing coconuts perched up at the top of every tree.
Finally, he picks his tree – he knows the one. There she stands, towering, a grand monument of nature, a beaming triumph of fruitful evolutionary prosperity. These trees populated and fed this land for thousands upon thousands of years, those glossy jungle-green palm leaves glistening in the sun, gracefully moving with the wind like flags blossoming into the sky.
Sanjaya stops there, stares up for a moment, evaluating his course, and then prepares his work. He lays his tools on the ground beside the base, a linen cloth wrapped firmly around his waist, and presses his palms against the trunk, unloading some of his body weight against the body of the tree as he raises one foot and presses it against the trunk with an expert grip. He brings up another foot, clutching the tree between his experienced feet, and begins to climb, swiftly raising his hands with astonishing speed, flashing in synchrony, as his brisk legs follow, gliding up the body of the tree. He ascends with impressive grace, precise in each movement, measured in pace and pressure, as he approaches the top, gripping onto branches, and selecting his coconuts. He observes their ripeness and maturity, and then carefully and swiftly draws his machete, cutting the kernel from it’s branches, letting it fall gracefully to the earth, landing upon the damp fertile soils. One by one he selects his kernels, harvesting this rich sustenance of the earth’s benevolence, as did his ancestors before him, in an age old tradition learned since youth. He recalls younger years watching those in his family perform the same feat, as he slowly began to master his craft, strengthening his grip as he learnt to skilfully ascend these beautiful trees.
As he climbs back down, levering himself to the ground with swiftness and balance, he can feel the sun’s heat intensifying on his back, as the morning wanes on towards the scorching midday. He knows his work must end there, taking his harvest back before morning end. He continues his work, assessing his trees, climbing and collecting sufficiently, returning with enough, day by day, knowing in depth the produce of his lands. He is ever aware of the need to preserve and sustain these lands as his forefathers had done before, being sure to respect the hospitality of the earth and conserve its sustenance. When the morning ends, and Sanjaya carries his harvest back, the sun high in the sky, it’s powerful rays piercing through the trees above, he admires the world around him, a world he has known for all his years. That rich green abundance of the natural world that remembers him as much as he remembers it.
He returns home, his heavy sack of ripened coconuts flung over his shoulder and weighted upon his perspiring back. he briskly steps into the shade, crouching down as he lowers the sack, and begins counting and assessing his harvest. It looks good, and he’s pleased with his day’s labour. True, the natural world is benevolent, and he’s grateful for a life lived on this earth, as he clutches a ripened coconut in hand, the tawny husks ruffling against his hardened palms, it’s firm shell cradled by his calloused fingers. He gazes at it with stern approval. This is a good one. And he stares up at the sun in contented marvel, knowing that tomorrow brings more beauty, and the earth more wonder.