By Pratishtha Dobhal
Heat and dust have taken a beating, settling into the confines of the ground beneath my feet, battered if only for a few hours, soaked and relinquished in the aftermath of the outburst the clouds bestowed upon my greens.
Yet again, I feel alive.
“It bore no fruits this year,” the night guard laments as he sits underneath my rooted expanse. He continues, “Not a single mango the bloody tree gave away this year, Shalini, you won’t be thrilled seeing the empty baskets when you come home from the village next week. Don’t worry, I’ll make it up to you with sweet succulent Dasheri mangoes, from Malihabad, Uttar Pradesh. It’ll mean three days pay for a kilo of sweetness, but anything for you, my love.”
It’s 2:00 in the morning, the 20-year-old colony on the Aravalli Hills in Delhi, Vasant Kunj, sleeps to the sound of pitter-patter of the rain, as I stand tall and not so proud.
A far cry from the glorious attention I received the year before, I promise things will change. I am sure I won’t have much to give away for export surplus to far-flung countries, but I can feel that I’ll reclaim my lost appeal.
I had a thriving colony which lived amidst my 60-year-old branches, much like the colony of humans that resides around me. Squirrels, pigeons, crows, monkeys, peacocks, and the extraordinary flying foxes’ all stamped residence all over my old self, but this year… nothing.
I remember the most fun I had was when the kids would find ingenious ways to knock all my mangoes down. I got so much attention that I often wished it away.
Everyone wanted a piece of me. An old lady last year would fight tooth and nail with the kids who’d come from afar, claiming they had no right on my fruits.
I was woken up one afternoon by her. She got her young nephew to pull out one of those old folding chairs from her home as she sat in the slightly scorching sun, keeping an eye on me and the kids, often reprimanding them that I was hers for she had planted my seeds.
I didn’t say anything that day. Simmered silently as she shooed them away. Fortunately, the winds from north heard her rant and decided no one could claim me as their own. Especially when my seeds had nothing to do with her late settlement around me.
I had my revenge as did the kids, all naturally 😉 A storm so strong that it had my roots quaking, ensured the mangoes automatically fell off. It was a party for the kids from the government school close-by who would bypass the colony on their way to school, the guards, the presswala (ironing man), residents, and anyone who happened to be there.
This year, all the attention has gone to the Jamun (Black plum) tree by my side but I know next year everything will change.
I’ll be more that just a “bloody” old mango tree.
*As told by The Mango Tree