All the coconuts in Kerala died in the morning hours of January 10, 2024. In hindsight, while some may say it was bound to happen , the fact was that no one saw it coming. We didn’t get time to prepare for it. Overnight all the coconuts ripe and new fell down , in a synchronized manner. Everyone was woken up from their sleep at 3am. What felt like a set of cluster bombs going off in all directions, the downward barrage lasted for maybe 5 mins. After that it was over. Very few ppl got hurt as nature chose to do this in the early morning hours although there were some unfortunate souls who perished or got hurt. 

As scientists began to unravel the mystery, the rumours started circulating that it is the end for coconuts as we know it. Hoarding started. People ran out of storage to store them. Some of them didn’t bother and left them as it is. None of them sprouted. 

The scientists after running a multitude of tests concluded that an airborne virus has caused this event and that the coconut trees would never bloom again. The fallen ones won’t ever sprout. Virus was non-lethal to humans and we could still consume the fallen ones. 

Within the next few months the same carnage affected all palm species across the world as winds and humans would carry the virus far and wide. 

The nations in the tropics came together to isolate a few far flung tropical islands where the winds couldn’t carry the virus over vast stretches of ocean. As long as carrier humans don’t land there, coconuts would still thrive in these coconut islands.Once ubiquitous, coconuts became more precious than anything. The fallen ones lasted for a year and after that one could hardly find coconuts. 

 The coconut trees swayed in the wind, fruitless. Many chose to wait for a miracle when they would bloom again. A population which was brought up using coconuts in every form and manner found itself slipping into nostalgia. I dreamt of tuskers bringing down coconut trees in search of young coconuts. 

There were of course synthetic replacements and occasionally someone spending a few lakhs to source fresh ones from the protected coconut islands to mark a celebratory occasion. 

The coconut trees swayed in the winds aimlessly. 

After a few years, scientists figured out a variant that would be resistant to the virus. The first bloom happened 5 years after planting and the tropical nations once again rejoiced. Then followed the long wait to get a coconut sapling to everyone. The fruit was forbidden to be consumed for the next 5 years as every coconut was meant to be a new sapling. Everyone waited. 

Now on the eve of January 10, 2040, sixteen years after the event, the embargo is finally being lifted for consumption. 

Much of the old trees have been cut down to make way for the new variant. Some didn’t have the heart to do so. Someone asked me recently. Did you know the lifespan of a coconut tree is 60-80 years the same as humans? Just because it can’t give you coconut, does it mean the tree serves no other purpose ? Maybe an existential question. So by 2104 all of the old variants would have vanished like the dodo vanished from earth. They would be replaced by its new and improved doppelganger. Like the Neanderthals, we would have their remains in museums explaining this great loss and the victory of evolution. 

But this morning, after 16 years I got to taste the water from a tender coconut. I am trying to recollect how it tasted in 2024. Was it different ? Was it because the coconut changed or I changed ? I still dream of tuskers bringing down coconut trees