My dear old fated Ghaf tree...

January 08, 2019

It is not customary for me to write to a living organism on its deathbed but sadly I have to do so in order to vent the swelling emotion that is building within me because of the knowledge that you are about to be murdered and so I wish to bid adieu to an old friend and this is one of the way I have chosen to do so.

When I first saw you some 41 years ago I was 30 years old but you looked much older to me. I do not know when you and your twin were propagated but I would have put your age then at 50.

 

Ghaftree

In the 37 years since I have been living next to you I have come to know you as a strong and friendly neighbour. You survived the storms that battered you over the years including the one called Gonu that took away 50m of the Shatti road but which you simply laughed at! You are resilient. I will never forget February 15, 2015 when on that day I got a call from my home requesting me to come quickly as there was a person by you with an electric saw and dishonourable intentions. Within a very short time I was next to you and I could see that you already had lost quite a few of your branches and many a twig. As I was trying to reason with this hacker, a car drove in with two Omani officials, who I later learnt were attending a conference on environment at the Crowne Plaza. They saw what was happening and because they were from the Ministry of Environment, wanted to know a bit more and see whether anyone had permission to cut you up. It would appear you were not an ordinary Ghaf but a protected one. That elitism was marked by a red paint on you, which the officials showed to your tormenter. He was told that if he touched you again he would end up as a reluctant guest in one of the police stations.

 

Ghaftree2

Someone up there likes you because you are harmless and kind. You are home to a multitude of birds and different creatures and I am almost certain that in your youth, long before they built a car park around you, you provided the shade for many an Omani family that would have sat underneath you to have the dates and coffee. You even may have had some sleep under you though I doubt it as Omanis have this fear of you that at night the Djin possesses you. Not many realise that at night you emit excessive amount of CO2 that sometimes asphyxiates those sleeping under you!

You are a true Omani with deep roots (no pun intended) and I have always advocated that more of you should be planted but because you are a slow grower many prefer a quick fix and so plant ‘foreign’ trees that, unlike you, consume a huge amount of water and shoot up quickly.

Now it has been decided by greed that you should be sacrificed for more parking spaces. Such is life! I am told, however, that you will be transferred to a better place; it is an experiment so no one knows if it will succeed or not. You at a tender age of almost 90, a girth of about 5m, height of almost 9m and a leaf span between the two of you of 15m (your weight is kept a secret but you are not a slim thing) will be transported, God only knows how, to your new premises at the Qurum Nature Reserve.

It would be great if you survive this trip though I doubt it. I am not sure someone of your age and size can withstand the rigour and trauma of being uprooted. I understand your roots are as deep as your length but all I saw when I looked at what they had done to you to shift you, was a base of roots almost 1m deep cut. Will you survive 8m of your feeding mechanism chopped off?

It had always been my hope that as nature would have it, I depart this earth before you, but it looks like you are going to beat me to it. If by a miracle you did survive this ordeal then please be rest assured that my family and I will visit you and like many an Omani will take the pleasure of eating dates and drinking coffee under your benevolent shade. If on the other hand you die then you would have done so with dignity and with having given immense pleasure to thousands of people over these decades. Your sad and helpless friend and neighbour.

By Shawqi Abdulredha Sultan