Mango Fan7 mins 256 7 mins 256
My sister's in-laws belong to Berhampur. After everything was finalized, even the date of engagement, I was entrusted with the task of the visit to their home at Berhampur, a customary on part of bride's side. After an overnight bus journey reached Berhampur and I managed to find their home at Nehru Nagar without much difficulty.
Her father-in-law, a gem of a person, offered me to take a back seat of his scooter for a morning ride to market for fresh vegetables.
Though my body needed little rest I didn't dare to annoy the man, who was the head of my sister's future home, though on paper. The house was totally lady centric. The pitch of my sister's mother-in-law was equivocal. Her thundering "Arabinda ... bhendia pilaa ta heicha, amiti kiaa’na haucha he...jau’na… (Arabinda ... being young, why are you so lethargic ... go ...)".
I was at the back of the roaring scooter.
After reaching the Bijapur vegetable market, the gentleman made me follow from one hawker to another. Reached the other end of the vending zone but not a single vegetable was purchased. I was happy with my decision of offering to carry the bag, which was as empty as we carried from home.
The gentleman made me recall...
Almost every Sunday and occasionally on official holidays, I used to accompany my father to the Unit-1 vegetable market, the largest vending zone of Bhubaneswar, the state capital city. I was privileged to accompany him as I was expected to shoulder a load of weekly purchase, being the eldest and only son of 4, the “Chosen One”.
But, I had a hidden agenda, Misti-Doi and Sandesh (2 sweet dishes) at Ganguram Sweets Stall. I was offered a plate-full for tasting at the shop, in addition to my assured share, back home. He was of habit to purchase from that vendor, who addresses him most respectfully with a noisy “Sir”. Bargaining for mere five-ten rupees was not to his reputations.
On our return from another end, many raw green vegetables were poured into the bag, without even asking for a price, which made my scamper a little difficult. To ease myself of the burden a little, I placed the vegetable bag on the ground near a mango vendor.
The aroma of ripening mangoes made me drool for the king of fruits. My mother says when I was tiny, at Daitari (a small hill-side town of Keonjhar district), my family consisted of a grandmother, a paternal aunt, a cousin, and a father's younger brother. During dinner, I used to consume the mango pieces from everybody's plate in spite of reprimanding. At the bed, I used to complain about severe stomach ache even often it was difficult for me to sleep face-down, my natural sleeping posture.
Another funny incident that I recalled ...
My mother left for her paternal village on some urgency, leaving me at Daitari in the custody of my cousin and father, as I was having schools before summer vacation. One day after I returned from morning school, just before lunch, I heard shouting of a mango hawker. I asked my cousin to purchase mangoes for lunch but he vehemently retorted, "To Bapa mote tanka dei thila? To faltu kama pain, mo pakhare tanka nahin…(Has your father given me a single rupee? I have no surplus for your worthless demand…)"
It was time for my father's walking down from Camp Office for a lunch break of 3 hours, before the evening shift. I stealthily left home and waited for him at a culvert, beneath which a perennial jungle sprint runs giggling. It didn’t take much time for his arrival. He was astonished to find me there, tanned under the pinching heat of summer and purred, "Why are you here? Did you have your lunch?"
"Brother has not prepared food as he is ill and told me to have lunch with you outside…" made my father clutch my palm for a walk to the market, where there was a small hotel. I don't remember at all, what else I had along with stomach-full mangoes.
After a heavy lunch, we rambled back home. The lapse of time, since my leaving home, to wait for my father, time taken to reach the hotel and relishing a lunch with delicious mango slices, made me forget my lying about cousin falling ill.
Reaching home, my father started massaging his gums and teeth with tobacco paste, as usual, before an afternoon nap and I got myself busy in some stuff.
My cousin purring, "Mamun, aas’a khaiba... (Uncle, come for lunch...)" my father, spitting out mouth-full saliva and tobacco paste, riposte with visible awe "Babula told about your being ill and we went to the hotel. Also bought a meal for you…" and shouted, "Babula, where is that lunch packet?"
Suddenly, I recalled the whole episode and dared to stroll into the middle of the veranda, with four eyes, glued at the packet, I was holding. Ears straitened for an explanation.
"Brother didn't purchase mango for lunch, in spite of my persisting request. He even told that you ..."
Before I could spell another word, my brother with dilated eyes maneuvered, "I didn't have money, that's why I could not purchase. But why did you lie about my being ill?"
Spitting out the leftover tobacco paste, gargling with freshwater, my father hissed, "Badmas! Au Kobe michha kahi bunu…(Rascal! Never ever lie again…)" and at my cousin jeered, "Suka, amba jemiti sari na jaye. Phala-Raja 3 masa mile. Ye toka ta pura Amba rasika. (Suka, you ensure to have mangoes always. The king of fruits is available for 3 months only. This boy is a real mango fan!)"
With the passing of every second, the sun overhead got more piercing and the redolent of ripening mango got stronger in the air that I asked the vendor about the price.
"Dui... ... ... Atha... (Two... ... ... Eight...)"
Though I heard properly but asked "Kete Bhai? (How much?)"
At that time Mango was sold at Rs.25 per Kilo at Keonjahar and Rs.20 at Cuttack and Bhubaneswar.
Again I heard...
"Dui... ... ... Atha... (Two... ... ... Eight...)"
I could not believe my ears. Bending forward, lowering my neck towards the vendor, I whispered, "Bhai, di kilo amba ku atha tanka?... ... ... Pherila bele Dusa-Pandara kilo nei jibi. (Brother, 2 Kgs at 8 rupees?... ... ... On return I will purchase ten-fifteen kilos.)"
Dropped weighing scale, made a huge noise of the iron bar and iron chain hitting the pans. The mango vendor gave a cool gawk, which had more pricking than the overhead sun. With typical South Indian style of clinching 3 middle fingers, extending thumb and little of his left hand, swayed up and down, hissing,
"Kia’na he Maha’puru... ... Mahaliaa khaiba ki he? Dui ... Atha ... ... boile ... ... kodiye Atha ... ... bole ... Athe’si. (What My Lord ... ... Want free of cost? Two...Eight ... ... Two Tens Eight ... ... means ... Twenty-eight)"
Before I could react to that clamorous fellow, my sister's father-in-law whispered at my ear, "Amba boile ete saradha ki he? Saradha boile nee’ba... Hele, mote chadiki, au kie khaaunaahaanti. Pahili amba boile rate eka. Ara spataha ku Eka... ...Panch hei jiba. (Do you like mango? If you are interested then will buy ... excepting me, nobody eats mango. The first arrival, so the rate is a bit high. Next week it will come down to One... ...Five.)"
Hearing "Eka... ...Panch" from the gentleman, I could not stop a simper, which made him a little uncomfortable. By the time we reached home riding scooters, became good friends.
[ Living life is the biggest celebration. It does not matter how many years one lives. What matters most is, if a void is created after you left this mundane world!!!
Both the gentlemen have left for heavenly adobe, leaving many such moments to cherish, recalling.]