The Purple Mango

Mangoes are not just fruits, they are tiny time machines. Each time I dig my teeth into a juicy mango, I am transported to the time when I used to lie awake on the rickety cot in the courtyard of my family home in the village during summer vacations, counting the stars during the long hours of power outage. I am reminded of my dear grandmother who used to sneak away from the juiciest of the mangoes and hide them safely for me.


Our mango tree in the backyard had mangoes of all sizes and vivid colours. While my tiny brother jumped at the branches like a little baboon, I stood at a distance, gaping in wonder at the tree that had mangoes of different colours. Some green, some light green, some reddish green, some bright yellow and some crimson, the mangoes of different hues did a little jig each time a naughty breeze heavily laden by the smell of kheer and puris from the kitchen teased the tree.


The mango tree gave us delicious chutneys, lip smacking murrabas, tangy pickles and sometimes jams and jellies too. And on one bright summer day, it gave us the rarest of all gifts, a purple mango.


The little mango was glistening in the afternoon sun, with a spectacular colour which I had witnessed for the first time. It was like the jewel in the tree, and before my brother could seize it, I carefully plucked it and put it in my little bag.


I was so delighted that I hung the little mango, like a locket on me, smiling brightly in an attempt to outshine the sun. I went around the long verandas of my family home, showing everyone my prized possession, my purple mango.


My grandmother lovingly stroked my hair and looked at it with childlike wonder. She then hugged me lovingly and whispered, “Let this purple mango be a reason of your smile for all the times to come.Let it remind you of sweet moments and vivid colours of childhood.”


I stuck my head out and looked at her beautiful face, radiant with a smile as sweet as the Alphonso.


Her voice suddenly becomes faint as I am startled by the voice of my colleague who complains that, “Even mangoes are artificially flavoured these days.”


A lone tear escapes the corner of my eyes as I remember the times have gone by, the summer vacations that were filled with the warmth of love and the vividness of colourful mangoes.


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