Mangoes!

I got a call from my dad yesterday. Then again, today.

That’s unusual.

Not because we don’t talk much but because he isn’t a just-like-that-call person. He’s more of a say-hi-when-mom-has-called kind or ask-for-adhar-card-number-and-say-bye kind.

Each time I do call him, twenty seconds into the conversation he’ll say ‘Chalo phir‘ and that is that.

Which is why, his calls are momentous. This time the reason was — Mangoes.

Yes, Mangoes.

This is how our conversations went:

Hello
Hello beta, Reached home safely? How are the mangoes? Spread them out somewhere or they won’t ripen properly.
Haan haan, I’ve done that already.
Okay. Bye.

Hello
Haan, hello. Check and see if the mangoes are turning yellow. Only when they become soft will they be ready to eat.
Okay, I will.
Bye beta.

That’s it.

The thing is papa shares an abiding love for this fruit with the husband and the children. Okay, love is a mild word, think ardour, passion, or whatever stronger synonym you can find.

I was in Lucknow last week and the night before I was to leave, about a dozen crates of mangoes from the family orchard were deposited at our doorstep. Next morning a strolley bag was lined with sheets of old newspaper and one entire crate (about 7 kgs) was emptied into it fruit by fruit, laid down reverentially upon the newspaper. And that, dear friends, was added to my hand baggage.

For someone who suffers from travel anxiety, a last-minute baggage addition is likely to blow an already smouldering fuse. As it did mine. I grumbled and whined and complained in a tantrum of sorts, as one can only do with one’s parents.

In retrospect, I realise it was entirely uncalled for and ungrateful, even mean. But at that point, I could have done anything to avoid carrying that extra bag.

Not that I stood a chance.

And that’s how instead of my regular Lucknow ki mithais, I lugged home a bagful of mangoes.

The trouble is I have a love-hate relationship with this fruit.

Love, because what’s not to love about its delicious sweetness? It is an integral part of my happiest summer memories – sitting around a bucket full of mangoes with all my cousins, our mouths smeared with rich orange pulp, thick juice running right down to our elbows.

But then I grew up.

Summer holidays were no longer the same with cousins all gone their way. I moved out and lost touch with my childhood, mangoes included. Also, weren’t they just the most fattening fruit? As a plump tween that hadn’t really mattered but as an overweight teen, it did. It mattered very much.

Besides, one couldn’t just eat one, right? Easier to give them all up. And I did, without ever being conscious of it.

Then they snuck right back into my life along with the husband and the children! At home in the North, June kicked off mango season, but here in Pune come April and they’re already all over our home.

Just like my father, in a post-meal ritual, the husband diligently washes, peels and chops mangoes for all of us.

However, they continue to annoy me.

I find wet peels in plates left all over the house, my favourite knife is always missing, the vegetable basket in the fridge is full of mangoes and all the food in the refrigerator constantly smells of them.

It was all of that, plus the unfairness of having to carry extra baggage that put me in a lather that day.

It’s been almost a week since I got back. The husband has been travelling since then and each phone call has been about, ‘Did you check? Have they ripened’. I even overheard H telling him, ‘They aren’t cooked’ yet’ (in a direct translation from Hindi).

As they lie regally ripening on the side table, I have to admit, they are of a remarkably beautiful variety – aptly named Husnara. Every day I check and move a few of them to the fridge.

This afternoon, I was doing the post-lunch honours in the husband’s absence and as I handed over a slice to N, I bit into one too.

It really is a delicious fruit.

Perhaps it’s time to redefine my relationship with it. Now that I’m no longer an insecure teen perhaps it’s time to stop blaming it and start enjoying an occasional indulgence.

I know it would make my dad very very happy.

4 Replies to “Mangoes!”

  1. Oh, I believe mango is the most nostalgic fruit. My mom hails from Lucknow too and your post reminded me of the summer vacation days back in childhood when we used to visit my mom’s maternal house and come back with loads of mangoes. Back then mangoes tasted differently,now they taste of nostalgia

  2. We have had a mango invasion! They are everywhere, in the fridge, in cartons on the steps to the terrace, spread out on sheets to identify the ripening ones… And laden laden on carts if one steps out. Even tho I am not too much of a mango person, the happiness it brings to folks, makes me happy .

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