Mangoes are Sweet
Mangoes are Sweet9 mins 241 9 mins 241
Hari had a big orchard of mangoes. They were the sweetest variety of 'Himasagar' mangoes of Bengal. Every year the orchards gave a bountiful harvest. Hari sold all of them and kept very liittle for self consumption. He had a family of his wife Mithu and son Ravi and daughter Misti. His was a happy family. His son and daughter were school going students. The income which the orchard gave to Hari was sufficient for him to last till the next year's harvest.
The quality of the mangoes which his orchard gave was now folk lore. Big orders were generated. Since last couple of years Hari had been exporting his mangoes to the Gulf and West Asia from where petro dollars came by way of payment. This new direction that business took ensured huge prosperity for Hari. The news of the good quality of his fruits came to be known by the Gulf people due to the Mango Exposition Hari had participated that was conducted under the aegis of the state Agricultural department. Many expatriates and foreign delegates came to visit his stall and tasted the delicacy. They all unanimously exclaimed, '' Mangoes are Sweet ''. This statement stuck to Hari like a magical chord. Hari kept his local government and political representatives happy with the generous gifts of the mangoes. By giving away crates and crates of mangoes, Hari was enhancing his personal rapport with the influential populace. Due to the success of this mango plantation, Hari did not care much for his other farming activities. Recently he had converted much of his agricultural land into mango plantations.
But his run of good luck and fortune had run it's course. Because now Hari had bad days ahead.
A deadly pandemic had been raging across the globe since last year. Movement of goods and people were being curtailed like never before. Slowly and steadily business was being affected. Offices and factories were being shut down. Orders were dwindling. Hari also could feel the heat of the cooling down of orders. Labour was scarce. So all the ripe fruits could not be harvested. Whatever could be harvested and few that fell on the ground were picked up for own consumption. For the first time in memory truck loads of mangoes did not leave the warehouse of Hari. Although Hari had become a mango millionaire in recent years this was the first year he made no income from sales. Even export orders had dried up due to the raging pandemic in the foreign shores. Everywhere there was lockdown and shutters down for business. By the time Hari could recover from the down turn the second wave of the pandemic was upon the humanity. This was an even more deadly than the first one that had struck the previous year. The transmissibity of the virus was more deadly and severe mortality was at stake. People were dying like fleas.
Situation reminded history of the deadly plagues that had attacked a century ago. The government was worried and helpless. This time the pandemic had penetrated the rural areas unlike the first wave. Vaccination of the population was the only solution for the respite from the Virus, experts were saying. The vaccines developed after lot of hard work was not sufficient for the entire populace. It would take months to vaccinate all the population. Governments were working overtime to save the human race from this once in a century calamity. Hari decided that to take protection he and his workers must take the vaccine. But vaccines were in short supply and demand was huge due to the large population.
Then lockdown was declared by the government to break the chain of transmission of the virus from human to human. Everyone was advised to stay in house. Last year the rural populace was spared the brunt of the pandemic and so agriculture and horticultural activities were spared. But this year the pandemic was claiming innocent lives one after the other and no one had any clue to avoid death and suffering. Masking of the face and use of sanitisers was the only remedy till the dose of vaccination to build immunity against the deadly virus. The transmissibity of the virus had risen by leaps and bounds. The concept of lockdown was new to Hari. Last year during the first wave they were not much affected. But thus year things were bad.
The health infrastructure was crumbling due to the huge surge of infected population. Rural areas were crying out aloud to ramp up the health facilities there. The village where Hari lived there were no primary health centres. The nearest centre was in the town ten kilometres away.
The government had promised to build a health centre in their village and that was many years ago.
But what could had been done over years could hardly be accomplished within a few weeks rather few days . Hospital beds in the government health centres were full. Ventilators for alternative breathing support were being ramped up to the best of abilities. Oxygen supply was also being monitored on war footing. Hari and his friends in the village were hearing all these worrisome news daily.
Because this virus was attacking the breathing system and the lungs of the human race and the patients were succumbing to this viral attack unable to jack up their immune system. People with comorbidities that is having other known illnesses like diabetes etc. were the ones who were dying first. In the cities due to better health infrastructure the disease was being better handled but due to the population pressure the infrastructure was crumbling. The villagers like Hari had never known terms such as comorbidities. They rarely had themselves tested ever. The need never arose.
So Hari and his family were not spared this time. His team of plantation staff of ten people was reduced to five. Five of his staff gave up their lives to this virus. Hari and his wife were both affected. Hari must have caught the infection from his staff. He was told to remain in home isolation for a fortnight. His wife also caught the infection. To save their son and daughter from this infection they were told to stay alone by themselves.
Hari had a very difficult time. He had lost his sense of smell. He was holed up in a room full of his ripe 'Himsagar' mangoes but he could not get the lovely scent which he was accustomed to for so many years. This was the most challenging time of his life.
A doctor was coming to visit him every day because he could afford to pay for his visit. Because there was now not sufficient doctors as they were all busy in the hospital and many of them had died due to the pandemic. Hari was feeling very sad and depressed because he was now quarantined, a term which he learnt now. Because of this quarantine or isolation, Hari couldn't interact with his wife of so many years and with his loving son and daughter. His wife also remained confined to another room.
All the responsibility had now fallen upon his son Ravi and daughter Misti. Misti took charge of the kitchen and was responsible for the food of the family. Ravi took upon the duty of coordination with the doctors and other health officials who were overseeing the health of his parents. Fortunately, Mithu the effect of the infection was not much. But for Hari it was a very challenging time. Ravi had been tasked by the doctors to manage the oxygen saturation of his father. Recently Hari had been found to be diabetic so more care was needed.
Hari lay in his sick bed and ruing sadly the missed opportunity for not managing the Mango business even in the second year running due to the pandemic. He was staring into huge losses and this made him fall more sick. He was missing the company of his good wife who generally gave him pep talk and motivation in such situations. Staying alone confined to a room for full 24 hours became a huge mental issue for Hari. The situation became worse for Hari on one hand whereas there was good news as his wife Mithu fully recovered within a few days. The doctor gave her permission to end her quarantine and come out of her isolation. But seeing condition of Hari worsening the doctor advised his hospatisation. The household ambience was tense as Hari was taken to the hospital.
At the hospital situation did not improve much for Hari. Mithu called the family priest and offered prayers and fire offerings, 'yagna' to please the Gods. Situation remained grim for the next few days and the health of Hari fluctuated up and down like a sea-saw.
Then doctors called Hari's family to discuss the next course of action because his health was failing and something drastic needed to be done otherwise Hari would be gone forever. There was talk of giving a regimen of steroids as life giving support. His other vital statistics were failing. Lungs were giving up to pneumonia. Blood sugar levels were too high for comfort. It was certain that Hari would not be around too long. So the doctors allowed the family all dressed up in full PPE kits as per the protocol for a final view before Hari would depart for his heavenly journey.
Hari's kids, Ravi and Misti devised an ingenious plan to try out a last ditch attempt to revive their father one last time. They had to think of something 'out of the box'. They built two large cut outs written with the words ''This years Mangoes are more Sweet '' in huge bold letters. They displayed these cut outs at the glass panes of the ICU chamber where Hari was fighting for life. The hospital authorities had permitted for use of this unconventional way. Hari was sinking but one last time he opened his eyes and saw the displayed cut outs. He strained himself to read what was written.
Then there was miracle. The health conditions slowly started to change for the better. Hari was now on his return journey back to life. When conventional treatment method almost fails or fails to yield much result then unventionsal methods like the one tried on Hari are the only available options. This does not have any scientific reasoning or logic but according to common wisdom they sometimes do work wonders. The doctors were clueless to the reason for Hari's comeback but no one questioned the method as it had worked. The next seven days were most important days in the life of Hari
Although there was good news as Hari was recovering. But there were to be more nasty surprises. Finally when Hari was fit to go home the hospital bill was an eye popping fantastic sum. Total bill of ventilator support, ICU charges and cost of steroids landed a demand of Rupees Ten lacs on the household of Hari. Mithu was dazed to know of such a humongous sum of medical bill and was at her wit's end of the ways to foot the payment. There was total confusion all around. Then all of a sudden Ravi who was holding his father's mobile phone heard the sound of two notifications in the mobile in quick succession. On viewing the same, Ravi saw a message from the Bank saying there was a credit of Rupees ten lacs in his account. The second message was a mail from a buyer from Dubai. He had made an advance payment of the equivalent of Rupees ten lacs in Dollars for an undisclosed quantity of shipment of best quality Bengal 'Himsagar' mangoes from the orchards of Hari. The Happy news had been sweetened by the mangoes.