Post 16 — The Banyan Tree (Part 1)

Unfortunately, no pictures of the real banyan tree can be found. This is Kathy and friends in a different tree.

“Hey, do you want to go see the banyan tree?” A girl with blond hair almost as white as the sand tugged at Chrissie’s arm. The number of children milling about seemed far greater than the number of parents available.

“Um, sure. Let me go tell my mom.” Chrissie had no idea what a banyan tree was, but she didn’t feel it was necessary to volunteer that information. Her mother just waved at her and told her to have fun, deep in conversation with another mom about the fact that the freezer could hold fifty pounds of meat. Kathy saw them leave and hesitated, trying to decide if she should go explore with the children or stay with the adults. At twelve, she often felt torn between the two groups. But her interest in freezers full of meat was limited, so she grabbed Carolyn and they followed the other kids. Karen was busy digging in the sand so there was no need to restrain her.

As they walked through the development, they noticed that each family had tried to personalize their identical houses by adding flowerbeds or palms. “Why are the palm trees so short?” asked Carolyn. “There weren’t any trees here at all when we moved in,” said the girl, who had introduced herself as Liz. “But if you take a coconut that’s still in the husk and plant it, it grows into a tree. Really fast, too. The one we planted in front of our house is as tall as me now.” Kathy looked at her with midwestern skepticism but held her tongue. She assumed the girl spoke with the same level of authority as Carolyn, who could lie about anything and still sound convincing.

The houses in the section of Tafuna they had just left were finished, but scattered around the perimeter were poured foundations and partially built skeletons of new ones. “These houses are great to climb on, like really big jungle gyms. But watch out for rusty nails. My brother had one go right through his foot.” Except for the Broquet girls, all of the children in the group were barefoot. They were oblivious to the fact that the sand was burning hot and full of sharp, tiny shells. Chrissie suddenly felt embarrassed by her Keds.

Liz had in-depth knowledge of how things worked on that part of the island. “See that pole over there? It has the only telephone in the village. That house has a motorcycle. Those people over there just had kittens.” Her narration was full of valuable information and the girls listened closely, trying to remember which house was which in this crazy match game that was suddenly home. Liz grew silent as the group neared the edge of the jungle and stopped. Chrissie gasped and clutched at her sister.

The crowd of veteran kids exchanged smirks, satisfied that their big reveal had all but rendered the newbies speechless. For what stood before them was not just an ordinary tree. To call this monstrosity that was an insult to the genus. An oak is a tree, mighty and noble and proud. This was a member of the Forest of No Return, transplanted south of the equator.

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2 Comments to “Post 16 — The Banyan Tree (Part 1)”

  1. FAA and GAS kids played in the huge Banyan behind the housing area on the way to the Coke plant..remember returning (stealing) empties and returning them to the plant for sodas?

    Like

  2. Christy Carpenter’s dad ran the bottling plant. They always had Orange and grape Fanta at their house
    at the Annex.

    Like

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