COIMBATORE: Eminent writer and Sahitya Akademi award recipient Nanjil Nadan said he was surprised when a young girl referred to a coconut tree as ‘ilaneer maram’. Roughly translated, it means ‘tender coconut water tree’. “Formal education hardly focuses on nature. It becomes the responsibility of parents to teach their wards about the various types of plants and trees,” said the writer at the 50th Enviro Meet held in the city on Sunday.
Taking a trip down memory lane, the writer recalled how he spent his childhood in the lap of Mother Nature in his native Kanyakumari district. He also captivated the audience by describing how he and his friends use to collect punnai and neem seeds used to extract oil and roam about in the wilderness. “My love for Mother Nature can be seen in all my works. It is an integral part of my writing,” he said.
He recollected how an 800-page novel written by another author did not even have a single mention about trees. “Anyone reading that novel will believe that people lived in the absence of trees,” he quipped. Talking to the audience about subject of nature in Tamil literary works of Sangam and post-Sangam periods, he quoted elaborately from ancient literary works to prove his point. “Such mentions in these ancient works are very helpful in learning about the history of the plant species,” he said.
According to him, writers have the social responsibility to include at least basic details about the surrounding nature in their works. “Mention about neem, coconut and banyan trees found in Sangam literature continues to help the researchers even to this day,” he stated. The litterateur also underlined how trees were treated with reverence and quoted a famous line from Perumthachan, a Thilagan starrer Malayalam film in which he advises his son to seek permission from the tree before cutting it.
“Such was the reverence given to trees in many parts of India. But now children don’t even know the names of the trees,” he said. The literatteur was speaking on the subject ‘Mannukku Maram Alagu’ at the Enviro Meet.