I sometimes cringe at the history that is served to us, because everything is a writer's prerogative to start with. It is very much necessary that the writers sometimes write what their audience would want to read and hence pander to populism. But because not all writers have followed this, the writers of past have done some irreparable damage to the fabric of our culture. For example I completely disagree with usage of the innocuous apple in the story of Adam and Eve. If I were to write the reason for ouster of Adam and Even from Heaven I would have used Mango instead of Apple and majority junta of this world would agree with me. Galib too agrees with me. He once told me -
निकाला गया आदम खुल्द से बे-आबरू होके
क्यों की उसने आम की एवज में सेब चखे
Adam was ousted from heaven a long time ago
For he ate Apple instead of the juicy Mango
With Mangoes there is more to imagination than the simple act of plucking and devouring a fruit. You see, a bare body looks lusty with a snake wrapped around and mango juices trickling down from chin of a damsel, falling on the ample 36 Ds thus giving a lustrous tasty look to Miss Eve. And then Adam accidently got to taste the forbidden fruit since he could not control his carnal urge and licked the juice of Eve's ample bosom. Now it looks very plausible for God to punish the duo for such blatant display of lascivity. Thus they both are sent to earth to enjoy their respective choice of mangoes and we can now start to write the history with new zeal.
I personally think that apples are boring, and Mangoes are interesting. Let me use modern literature to justify my belief. You see we don't have a single song in my mother tongue (Marathi) on Apple, while chartbusters like "पडाला पिकलाय आम्बा” (pun intended) and "आम्बा पिकतो, रस गड़तो” (no pun intended) have been ruling the roots for ages. Akbar Ellahabadi invoking his love for the fruit famously wrote in his Aam Naama
नामा न कोई यार का पैग़ाम भेजिए
इस फ़स्ल में जो भेजिए बस आम भेजिए
ऐसा ज़रूर हो कि उन्हें रख के खा सकूँ
पुख़्ता अगरचे बीस तो दस ख़ाम भेजिए
मालूम ही है आप को बंदे का ऐडरेस
सीधे इलाहाबाद मिरे नाम भेजिए
ऐसा न हो कि आप ये लिखें जवाब में
तामील होगी पहले मगर दाम भेजिए
I consider Mangoes the King of Fruit because as per my biased statistics mangoes are consumed worldwide by a factor of three to one over bananas and ten to one over apples. A lot of people will give their arm and leg to eat the King of Fruit during the peak summer of the subcontinent. Aunties in the society fight over the share of the mango from the common tree in the building compound. If you don't believe me, I'll introduce you to a Bengali Aunty who did not talk to her neighbour for 8 years because the neighbour decided to harvest all the mangoes while the Bengali aunty was out of town. They finally came to talking terms only after there was a Kidney exchange program between the two families. I've seen people do weird and wonderful things owing to their love for Mango.
My oldest and fondest memories of Mango come from my mother’s place called Masal. My grandfather was a Jamindar with a huge land holding and crazy mango plantation. Each year for almost 5 years, when we were kids, we went to Masal during summers. Once there we followed a routine that involved us leaving for the farms on the bullock carts carrying a tiffin of Bhakri, zhunka, onions. Our cousin uncles used to work in the field with the farm hands. We used to first have bath in the pool where the motor used to throw water of the well. After that the field worker used to get us some raw mangoes and we used the feast on them with chilli powder and salt along with the lunch and then sleep under the shade of the heavy mango trees. We used to love them and they loved us back. The breeze under the tree shade used to be cool and the summer bearable. Lying there under the shade of the Aamrai we used to be in awe of the huge trees and the sweet smell of the fruit laden trees that seemed to call us and speak to us in language of fragrance. Tossing stones at the fruit laden trees and climbing the branches of the trees to pluck a few more mangoes was the afternoon game. While in the process sometimes we got hit by the stone rebounding from the branches or sored our agile muscles and sprained an ankle while tripping from a branch. Back then we wondered why are the trees so big, why they can’t be of reachable size and save us all the pain? And for all the pain caused we use to curse the tree with all our innocence and felt good for having gotten a chance to scold someone for a change. But I don't remember the trees begin vengeful. They remained quiet and they only gave what they could in all modesty. I now realize why trees are bigger than humans - because they have a bigger heart.
Back home there used to be buckets of water full of juicy mangoes and it was an art to churn the juice inside and drink the juice from the mango directly. Having had eaten so many mangoes during our childhood we have come to form quality standards for Mangoes. We strongly believe that mangoes should have only two qualities. One - they should be sweet and second - they should be in abundance. Thus the summer used to end with lots of mango boils on faces of us children. I don't know if it was the carefreeness of the childhood or the impermanence of the boil but the scars from those boils never stayed back. Years later when I look back in time I have understood one thing about scars. The physical ones usually fade away. Those that stayed back are etched on mind and heart and came only when we lose the child in us. However the sweetness of all the mangoes I've eaten so far is so much that even after the bitterness that life has showed I still meet with people with a smile. Truly if there is anything worth calling ambrosia in this world; it is Mango.
Mango is but a very naïve fruit, oblivious of it own goodness. So much so that it is called आम (Aam) in Hindi, which also means 'common'. The fruit but holds a ख़ास (special) place in my heart. Thus each year during the season a box full of these special fruits get delivered to my place in Nagpur. Only yesterday did my in-laws sent a box of Ratnagiri Alphanso Mangoes and then I could not help but pen this poem to stand in queue with Galib and Illahabadi and pay my reverence to Mangoes.
साल मे एक बार मुझे ससुराल वाले भाँते है
आम का खास सा तोहफ़ा जब साथ वो लाते है
कुछ पुराना गहरा राबता हैं, मैं जो उनपर मरता हूँ
रिश्तेदारों की नही, मैं आम की बात करता हूँ
गर्मी और उनके सारे पाप मैं माफ़ कर देता हूँ
ससुराल से आए हापूस जब मैं साफ कर देता हूँ
पार्सल के बड़े बक्से मेरी बेटी के नाम पर लाते हैं
बहाना चाहे जो रहे, बक्सों में मीठे आम आते है
एक सीख हैं इन गर्मियों के तोहफ़ों में, याद रहे
रिश्तों में वो खास मिठास बस और बस आम भरे
Tivia - Galib like me was a huge Mango fan. Once while he was eating Mangoes with friends, a bunch of donkeys passed by. One particular friend who was not so fond of the Mangoes threw one mango in front of the Donkeys. The donkeys smelled the fruit and walked away ignoring the Mango. At this the friend wanting to taunt Galib said “देखा गधे भी आम नहीं खाते” . (See even donkeys don't like mangoes). Galib Sahab replied "जनाब, गधे ही आम नहीं खाते” (Mister, Only donkeys don't like mangoes)