My family was in to farming, we had all sort of cultivation in our land. We had paddy, elephant yam, tapioca, Colocasia, Purpil yam, spinach, different types of chili, coconut, different types of banana and plantain, rubber, coffee and lot. One of our major crop was banana / plantain. We had different varieties of plantain (nedran, njali, poovan, palayamkodan, red bananas, sundari poovan, kadali etc). This story is all about my first experience of harvesting banana stalk from the plantain tree.
I was around 10-12 yrs old. This happened at our taravadu, @ kochupampakuda. I am remembering the scene correctly. Me, mathappan, amma, ammayi, sini chechi and dad was sitting outside the kitchen. We were discussing something. Then my mom was telling, look at that red plantain, Its ripened. lets harvest it (cut it). All agreed. I suddenly stoodup, I will cut it. All were happy, the response was, Ok you do.
I was with cen percent confident, This is just a simple task. Reach the plantain tree, Hold one of the leaf and pull down, make a huge cut on the plantain tree using a billhook knife, then the banana stalk will come down slowly, catch the stalk with your hand, cut it from the plantain tree, and the banana stalk will be in your hand. Simple!
So, I immediately took the billhook knife which was laying down under the Ammikallu (Traditional manual stone grinder). With no time, I reached the red plantain tree with the billhook knife. I looked at the banana stalk. I didn’t think much, never done a risk analysis and risk mitigation plan.
Red banana trees are normally of good height, more than green banana. The height will be around 10 to 12 feet. Red banana stalks will be normally of moderate size and weight, that particular stalk was around 12-15kg.
If I were today, i will definitely think like, if that stalk falls from that height wth this much weight, can i hold it on hands? The answer is a big no. I havent think all these thing during that time, because cutting a banana stalk is a simple task. Simple, very simple.
I looked the banana stalk and with the billhook knife I made a big cut on the back side of the plantain tree. Plantain tree didnt had the power to withstand that cut. I fell down suddenly like, (njan itha angu varuvane, enne pidicholin!) I am coming down, hold me. The 12kg banana stalk was coming towards me, right towards my head at no time. Some how i managed to escape from felling the stalk on my head. I was like, huuuuu, just escaped.
But I saw all the family stood up and looking at me, they were at the same time laughing and angry. I looked the banana stalk. It was totally destroyed. From the 12kg, merely few kgs left behind , rest of all damaged.
Dad came to me and was asking. Oh! this is how you harvest (cut) banana stalk!
Even though this happened, I learned how to cut a banana stalk and still doing it when my mom pushed me to it.