Thursday, May 16, 2019

My Mom's Mango Tree - Still Yielding Fruit

Circa 1975 was probably when my mother, a dreamer or rather a visionary, planted the tree when she was overseeing the construction of our house in Sundar Nagar, then located at the edge of the town with vast open lands all around it.
Shobhs posing with our mango tree circa 1991
She had uncommon common sense, always thought ahead and could be trusted to check out all boxes. So when my father took a loan against his wish; he wanted to be free of all burdens and return to his village - somehow forgetting that he had five children who were still at various stages of education - and built this house, she thought of all possible angles because she knew that there was no going back. This house was it.
The mango catcher
I remember how much effort and thought she put in - even now when we see the main door with its inlaid design, something she picked up from the Chandamama books. She had an eye for the beautiful and took pains to create it in her life. The design on the ceiling in the master bedroom is another of her creations. And so many such small touches.
Ramu and Vasu strategising
Among all these are the trees that she planted - a mango tree, guava, pomegranate, papaya, coconut, Ashoka, flowering plants of all kinds especially the ones needed for her puja. All the fruit-bearing trees bore fruit copiously as long as she was alive - she took care of them well. The guava is now gone, so is the pomegranate and the papaya tree. The coconut trees are now rather neglected - in her time she would get rock salt and ensure they were watered well.
The ones that got away - a last ditch effort
Somehow despite all the chopping up and building around it the ancient mango tree survived and found its way to sunlight between our house and the one behind. It always had a good crop and most would be stolen by someone or the other unless we made specific plans or got help. When we did, it would yield more than a 100 fruit, of the rasalu variety, sweet and organic.
Putting them out to ripen
A few years ago Vishnu, my sister's driver helped in plucking a crop. Last year my friend Vasu, who loves the days when he helped on their far in his childhood and who can climb any tree easily, saw the fruit and decided to teach Anjali a thing or two about mangoes. He came home and made a contraption which he then used to pluck a good deal of fruit which he showed how to ripen. Abhinay and Anjali helped him and we all enjoyed eating some ripe fruit after a week. I sent mangoes to my sisters and brother.
Another old pic - why did I take some many pics of this tree then?
This year, the crop was marvelous. They were huge. Vasu came and saw them and was not satisfied - let them grow some more he said and we waited another week. Finally, we got down to it and with help from Ramu plucked some 60-70 fruit. Another 50 were hanging over the terrace of our neighbours and we wished them well and a nice mango feast.

As always I distributed the mangoes to family and friends and took a few to Pune. They are absolutely delicious. Thanks Mom.

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