Discord Of Neighbours

The problems that arise from overhanging tree branches.

Inevitable in Kerala Villages

The villages almost all are tree-rich in Kerala.  They do a yeomen service to sustain the nature.  Yet, very often the trees in villages turn to be generators of discord among neigbhours.

To have maximum area of the land for cultivation most of the people plant saplings of long-living trees close to their boundaries.  This creates hindrance in the cultivation of the families beyond the fences.  When the trees grow, the leaf-full branches shield the sun-rays from touching the soil to the extent the branches spread.  If the neighbour’s plot is  free of trees or up-grown plants, major portion of the trees on the other side spreads to his side.  This naturally causes hindrance to the cultivation by the neighbour as sun light is a must for most of the agriculture plants for good yield.  The affected party politely tells the neighbour to cut remove the branches spread to his property.  If he is level-headed he will nod his head in approval and sleep over the matter.  If he is arrogant, quick come the reply that the tree is standing in my property.  Repeated demands or requests yield no positive result from such people.  This is in spite of having a statutory law that one has to grow the plants or trees without causing hindrance to the properties or families beyond the fences.
Affected parties often resorts to legally available recourse to have his right enforced.  This leads to verbal duels, skirmishes, showing strength of hands and even murder.

In this correspondent’s village some time back witnessed a gruesome incidence.  A family consisting of father, mother, their three unmarried girls and three adolescent-sons has family of a tuition master as neighbour.  His three large jack trees and two large mango trees standing close to the boundary occupies large area of the neighbour.  Their repeated requests and ultimatums to cut remove the branches of these trees over their property yielded no good.  Enmity persisted.  Around this time the betrothal of the elder girl was over.  Tuition master managed to get the address of the fiancé somehow and went there and told his family that boy’s fiancée has mental disorder problem intermittently.  The parents of the boy rushed to the house of fiancée and made a dress down for concealing the mental defect of the girl.  The stunned family pleaded not guilty but for no avail.  The parents of the boy then and there nullified the betrothal.

The girl’s family managed to know who was in the play.  It was the neighbour who refused to cut-remove the tree branches.

The three adolescents in the family together with two well-wishers from other  neighbours stood in wait in darkness for the tuition master.  He came around 9 when they bounced on him and beaten profusely.  With multi-injuries he got admitted to the hospital.  The police enquiry yielded no clue and the tuition master had not been able to identify the assailants in the crude darkness as there was no street light.

The neighbor immediately after the incident petitioned RDO (Revenue Divisional Officer) to get rid of the tree branches from his property.  The RDO directed police to enquire and if the petition matter is true to arrange the cutting of the branches at the cost of tree-owner.  The police promptly did so and reported back to the RDO.

The assault and hospitalization could have been better avoided by the tuition master had good sense prevailed on him.  Two years took to marry off the girl.

Just recently this correspondent’s nearest village witnessed a gruesome murder on account of tree branches.

A family has two jack-trees and one mango tree and a cashew-tree in a row close to his boundary.  Almost all the branches of these trees are necking out to the neighbour’s property because of the shades of coconut trees in the family’s plot.  Half of the total 25 cents of the neighbour was rendered unproductive due to the shielding of sun-rays by the tree branches.  Repeated requests to cut-remove the branches fell on deaf ears.  One day as a test dose, the neighbour cut two branches of the cashew-tree which were on hand-stretch height.  When the tree owner who is a butcher and meat seller returned home his wife reported the matter.  The enraged man went with his butchering knife and pierced into the stomach of the neighbor who was sitting in his verandah around 6 pm without even any questioning or argument.  He died next day.  His wife and two children below 15 years are now struggling to meet the ends.  The man who stabbed has wife, an aged mother, a son with little earning job and a girl nearing marriage age and is behind the bars undergoing trial.

A kilometre away from the village referred a tree-engineered a family enmity among two brothers.  Their staying plot was spacious to the extent of 5 acres.  When partitioned by father each got equal proportion at 2.5 acres.  The house was given to younger one as a custom in Kerala amongst all religions.  When the plot demarcated a jack-tree in the plot of younger one stood close to the border.  In due course of time it grew and nearly half of the trunk base poached on to elder’s plot.  He claimed half of it.  Younger brother insisted that it is in his plot and that he cannot be faulted for spreading the base and cannot part away any share.  The stands of both took the shape of family feud.  When the issue reached to this extent the father who is staying with younger son as customary in Kerala intervened in favour younger son.  This infuriated the elder son and engaged in heated arguments with the father.  The raged son hit the father by foot on his back.  He fell down and could not stand up on his own.  His spine-cord was broken and is still bed-ridden in spite of prolonged treatment.  Both the brother-families are not even in talking terms now.

Such incidents are a common phenomenon in villages.  One or two instances of tree triggered rivalry and consequential tragedy occupy the spaces of news papers very often.

Hope better sense prevails.

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