I opened the refrigerator & reached for the mangoes. My hand fumbled around & finally found a small squashed one. I hesitated for a few seconds wondering if it was worth the trouble cutting just one for the kids. They were sure to make a huge fuss for more. Instead I could make some chicken mayo sandwiches for them & they didn’t have to know anything about the mango. Yes I’ll do that.
While I was toasting their sandwiches my eyes returned back to the lone mango sitting forlornly on the middle of the counter. It was the last of Pakistani mangoes which we had picked up last week. For those who haven’t had Pakistani Mangoes till today I must tell that they are so sweet that you must eat one to believe the saccharine flavor. After my throat infection & fever, food was tasting like sawdust but this cold, sunny looking mango was sitting there & making eyes at me.
I picked it up & scrutinized it for any unsightly spots. It was a bit squashed but didn’t look bad. It reminded me of my childhood holidays in Kerala where all of us cousins used to ceremoniously sit in front of a sackful of mangoes, pick the squishiest ones out, squash it some more by gently hitting it against the wall, then make a small opening on the top of the mango & suck the pulp out…….I involuntarily swallowed in remembrance.
I washed the mango, then gently beat the mango against the counter to smash the insides, made a slit on the top & put my mouth against the tiny cut & the sweet taste of childhood spilled into my mouth when….
Nikita[from behind]: What are you doing Mama??????
Mama[spins around guiltily, shielding the mango from view]: Nothing
There is no hiding from Nikita. She is like my conscience. Just last week I made cookies & then spent 20 minutes wondering where to ....ahem hide them. Nikita walked in after school, sniffed the air & announced “You made cookies!!!!!!” and proceeded straight to the place where I hid them & pulled the box out. I stood there wondering why I even bothered to hide them….nextime I’m just going to leave them on the counter, maybe then she’ll search the whole house & give up.
I show her the mango & half-heartedly ask her whether she’d like to eat the pulp like I was going to.
“Eeeewwwww” She shudders
I look enquiringly.
“Mama, it looks like its spoilt, throw it away” advises Nikita.
“No, its not…here, taste some, its yummy. I used to eat it like this when I was really small” I angle the mango towards her mouth.
“Didn’t you have knives to cut them with, in your childhood???” backing away, Nikita asks in pity, like as if we lived in pre-historic times.
“Don’t be silly, when I was little we loved to eat them like this....here just try some and see” I try to convince her.
Nikita does some quick thinking & says generously “Mama, you have it, we’ll eat the sandwiches.”
She hurries out of the kitchen with her plate of sandwiches just incase I change my mind & make her eat it.
I could hear her voice in the living room telling her sister “Naina, you know when Mama was small they didn’t have knives to cut the fruits with”.
I resisted the temptation to yell out that we did & stood there wondering whether to feel happy that I got the whole mango to myself or sad that my children don’t even want to know about the kind of fun I had when I was small, tearing the skin of the mango with our teeth, getting our hands all gooey with the sweet juice running down till the elbows, gnawing & extracting the last of the flesh till we saw the white of the hard seed, with the teeth tingling in remembrance long afterwards.
What is your favourite Mango Memory??????????