There’s something deeply spiritual and invigorating about a mango tree. There’s a huge mango tree right outside my window. When I feel low on inspiration, all I need to do is to stand by the window, and the view of the massive tree, with its branches stretching out to the neighbour’s house, fills me with creativity, pride and new ideas.
The tree attracts birds of all kinds. They build nests on its branches and some other birds that are passing by stop to rest on the tree. The lush mango leaves provide shade for most part of two adjoining properties. Throughout summer, this tree has been the focus of many conversations between neighbours. There is always a difference of opinion on which is the best variety — Alphonso, Badami, Raspuri, etc. There never can be a consensus on this because not just do individual tastes differ, the tastes also change from season to season.
The fruits on the mango tree outside my window are almost ripe and ready to be plucked. There is a process, wherein the president of the building association has to supervise the plucking of mangoes. The collected fruits will then be distributed equally amongst all neighbours.
The sight of the mangoes dangling from the branches is pretty and I don’t mind if we left them there. This is also because I’m in no hurry to get a taste of the juicy fruit. Only a few days back, I was gifted a carton-full of mangoes from a neighbour. There was much excitement about where to store the mangoes — which ones will go inside the fridge and which ones will stay outside to ripen some more. Then, lists were drawn up over how many mangoes were to be used to make mango chutney, how many raw mangoes would be used to make mango rice and how many would be enjoyed as a juicy fruit.
Friends who visited me said my house smelled of mangoes. I’ve been inspired to cook with mango. Over the last week, I made mango thokku, mango rice, mango salad and made mango juice that makes for an excellent (and very filling) evening snack. Yet, I’m not bored. There are few people who don’t love a sweet, ripe mango. Every summer, mango lovers fall in love, all over again, with the fruit.
Apart from being the ‘king of fruits’, the mango is also a deeply spiritual fruit. Hindu believers string mango leaves along the top of the front door of the house. Mango leaves also have the significance of being the seat of the deity. Therefore, during special puja rituals by Hindus, the leaves play an important role.
Mango — both the fruit and tree — is also a writer’s delight. There are numerous literary references to the mango tree or the mango fruit. Writers use these generously as metaphors to depict not just sex but life itself. I can see why. Whether it’s a bright sunny morning or a moonlit evening, the mango tree has an aura of dark romance to it. To be able to soak in this energy is a privilege. To discover the secrets the tree hides within it is a mysterious journey. To enjoy the fruit for the pleasure of its sweetness is relaxation. To watch the life of a mango tree, and to see it give life to creatures around it, including humans, is a boon.
The writer is a Bangalore-based commentator.