Pruning the Tree of Discord
Pruning the Tree of Discord
This week was a very busy and stressful one.
Among the stressful things I had to sort out was this devilish mango tree (don’t get me wrong, I love plants and I love mangos). This tree, at least the part that looms over my room, has a long conflicting and destructive history. The problem is that when irresponsible people plant a tree this powerful too close to their neighbor’s room and the tree grows so big its roots crack the neighbor’s floor and wall, and the fruits falling from 40 meters high shatter the asbestos roof to pieces, there is no way you can continue loving this particular tree and its particularly destructive fruits.
Trying to trivialize the issue I even wrote a Spanish poem in couplets last year:
Roughly translated it goes like this:
Even though you may say it’s not a biggie,
the word mango gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Because of a monstrous mango tree
My roof resembles now a sieve.
The flowers may make others drool;
For me, they are bombs that make us bull.
Although of a lovely yellow its fruits
Have made a colander of our roof.
Neither the floor, nor the walls were spared;
Its mighty roots made them be scared.
My neighbors do not pay for the tear;
Eating delicious mangos is their only care.
I may sound to you mad beyond mending,
I don’t want to see mangos even in painting.
The thing is that this mango tree and the damage it has caused represent many negative things about my culture. On the one hand, it represents the arrogance, selfishness, and indifference that characterize many Venezuelans and which can cause some trouble wherever they go. Some people attribute this to education or lack of it, but I can attest to the ubiquitousness of such attitudes across all demographics.
It also represents the inefficiency and artificiality of Venezuelans laws and institutions. In theory, there is a Ministry of the Environment that used to have competence on this matter; there used to be fire departments with equipment and personnel ready to solve this simple issues without much paperwork; and there used to be Town Halls with simple rules regarding citizens’ responsibilities, and they were more than willing to intervene whenever neighbors stubbornly refused to assume their responsibilities. All that is ancient history now.
Since I moved to this place about 7 years ago, I have been demanding the neighbors the chopping down of this tree to stop the damage in walls, floor, and roof as well as to prevent a possible tragedy if one day one of the big branches decides to fall down through the room. Their responses have gone from hilarious and disgusting and year after year I have had to pay someone to do the trimming and that always generates an argument. They become the victims and I become the tree/environment-hater.
This year, I could not afford to pay for the pruning, and after several incidents of their knocking down mangos that ended up on the roof and having to yell at them not to step on the roof, I decided to do it myself.
Poor Brandy was “barking” desperately begging me either to come down or to throw one ripe mango at him. I want to think he was just dead worried about me.
Only part of the work done, for now.
At least I got just a small bruise this time
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