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the Mango Tree


The centre of the universe is not the place where I am standing, but the Mango Tree in front of my balcony. But because of different seasons its centre of importance shifts, particularly when there are no mangoes on its branches. Almost a decade back, when I shifted into my flat, there was no such tree over there, but indeed a structure conducive for the growth of a Mango Tree, or any other tree, was always there. This space where these small and big trees exist belongs to the entire colony, a public space, where people relish their evening strolls, or let their children jump a little, and also scatter biscuit and chocolate wrapper around, carelessly. The Trees are mostly non-fruity ones, so everything is cool, except this Mango Tree.

Right now, the entire colony is talking about this mango tree, but the flats which are directly facing this mango tree are constantly thinking about it. I am also looking at the mango tree, but among other things, what puzzles me is the question why the tree gives birth to hundreds of mangoes when it does not want its entire crop to grow? As I notice some little green mangoes keep on falling on the earth, naturally. Why? It fascinates me. This is perhaps, what we call mysteries of the nature, so no need to interfere or worry on that account. But still there are plenty of mangoes on the tree, and everybody is silently looking at them, who simply want to eat them. But there is some helplessness in their looking at them.

The reason for this is that the 70-G-wallay (family living in the Ground floor) happened to water this mango tree sometimes , and now they have the birth right to harvest the entire crop of this tree. True, I am witness to that, but I doubt if they actually had planted the tree. I believe, somebody had carelessly thrown a mango kernel into the park which has given birth to this controversial tree. The 70-F-wallay, 70-S- wallay, and 70-T-wallay (families living in First, Second and Top floor) feel that they too have the right to eat some mangoes. These families live closer to this tree, but other families which are facing it too have the similar desire but, I guess the intensity of the desire to eat these mangoes is directly proportional to the distance of the eyes that are looking at this mango tree.

The trouble is that the 70-G-wallay leave no stone unturned to ensure that the mango tree is under their control during the crop time. They don’t even let a singing bulbul, or a peaceful dove, let alone stray colony monkeys to come near this mango tree. They use all the ways and means to keep the other away from the reach of this tree. They must have even counted the number of mangoes on the tree which are still unripe, quite green but distinguishable from the green of its foliage. The 70-G-wallay are Baniyas (the traditional business community) and hence have a natural tendency to think about their personal benefits only. I must say, with some confidence, that such families are the predecessor families of the entire world capitalism, like monkey is known as the predecessor of the man. A limited thought, but business is usually created to be inherited by their successors, usually sons. So, there is a tradition, to own the factory, an orchid, an oil well etc. Right now, here in this colony, there are people who want the entire mango tree to be felled since they don’t get their share of mangoes, but there are people who are content with the idea of a tree alone. Although, the later category of people are quite in minority but they are happy that there is a place for a dove to make a nest, or twig for a squirrel to jump from this tree to another tree.

Yes, some children from outside, say from other underprivileged families, whom I guess have never tasted a mango in their life, do come and try to steal a mango or two from this tree by throwing a stone or a small stick. The 70-G-Wallay quickly come out from their flat and use all kinds of popular vernacular to chase them away. The rest of families again remain silent, who otherwise would not like these outside children to venture into the protected colony, where I too happen to own a flat.

The result is that every year, the 70-G-wallay harvest the unripe crop lest it might be shared or stolen by others. The entire unripe-unripe crop is harvested, because the fear of losing the crop intensifies with the passing of each day, which is just good enough for ordinary pickle at the best. The real mangos never see the light of the day.

I don’t about the whole world, but in India, the nature of business is such that the entire crop of Mangoes is usually plucked from the branches while it is still growing, still green. The golden fruit becomes golden only in the dark rooms of Mandi (Fruit markets) where they are dumped for couple of days, or weeks, to hit the stalls on the very day they turn golden, golden red or golden green. Who knows if some chemicals are injected into the mangoes to give them a more golden look, or make turn them even tastier? After all we are lured by products which are masked, glossed, either on TV, cinema, or in the Malls, or in the life directly. After all, the idea of mango is usually smarter than the actual mango.

But there are spaces where Mangoes are allowed to turn golden on the trees itself, and subsequently relished with their maximum sugar and vitamin levels. But, as we know that is outside the structure of business and people like 70-G-wallay don’t have a clue about that. So, has anybody ever tasted a real mango?

The question is that there is just one mango tree, and thousands of eyes on its couple of hundred odd mangoes on the tree. Right now, the people like 70-G-wallay who control the production of plant don’t let the mangos grow naturally. So they too have not tasted a mango, and neither let others to taste a real ripe one.

So has anybody tasted a real mango, if there is one, and if yes, who deserves to eat that, and relish?

With love

Inder salim


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Apr. 30th, 2009 01:18 am (UTC)
summertime mangoes
hi Inder, my mango eating experience is also from Australia similar to
Sophea's. mangoes are also grown in Queensland which is on the east
coast of Australia, to the North - some of the best (imo) come from
Bowen which is a town on the edge of the Whitsunday Islands. we had
relatives living there, so in summer, when we were children we'd be
sent a couple of cases of Bowen mangoes. this would be a real treat,
and some of the other neighbourhood kids would come over to share in
the treats. Mum would make us eat them outside in our togs (swimsuits)
with the hose next to us as it was a really messy affair. we just
peeled them and ate - they were very sweet, sometimes a little stringy
towards the end. we'd end up with mango juice all over our faces and
hands and have to hose ourselves off then run around in the sunshine.
we didn't dice the mangoes or slice them into more manageable & less
messy pieces as people do these days - the mess was part of the fun.

and yes, I've also heard (in Brisbane) that if the fruit hangs over
the fence into your yard or the footpath then you can pick the mango
and eat it. no one seems to worry as there's usually an abundance of
fruit which otherwise ends up falling off the trees to the ground and
the birds eat them and go a little silly - they seem to become drunk
on too many. the mango trees fruit in yards in Brisbane aren't as nice
as the Bowen mangos though - I suppose they're a slightly different
species? (not sure)

I had mangoes whilst in Delhi, and I was told they were famous in
India (I forget which city - somewhere South?) but they didn't taste
as sweet and juicy as the mangoes from my childhood. though memories
have a way of doing that to something when you try it again later.
plus I had them in a restaurant, and to me, that's just not the place
/ way to eat mangoes properly!! you need to be out in the sunshine
making a mess. :)

I hope your community can work out a way to share the mangoes and
enjoy them in the summertime.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )