I like mangoes. A lot. Cliches call it the king of fruits. I wonder if there is a queen of fruits. King or queen, I love its succulence. At its richest, it’s an unending source of pulpy goodness. Why would a manufacturer bottle such goodness? Kind of life how we do for all the good things we dream of in life. I thought this and more as I sat at my usual place in the canteen of this plant where I work. Today, they are serving mangoes. One each. And more if you are greedy enough to ask.
Rice and sambhar are done with. I sit at the table with the mango in front. Red and yellowish. It looks just the right shape and size – and just the right texture, not too soft and not too hard. And that’s when I realize the problem. I don’t know how to eat it. It’s at times like this that you realize that you know so little of yourself. I only know how to bit into its flesh, tear it apart, and suck on the tender juice, my palms sticky and my face aglow with joy. I do not know how to enact the same ritual. I watch as the person who sits in my office, pick up her mango, and then use the spoon. I watch as my joy – the ugliness, and the chaos in eating the mango disappear into English politeness. Scoop out the insides, curl the spoon and then slowly, gingerly, tenderly thrust the spoon into your mouth. Where’s the juice? Where’s the pleasure of licking your arms as the mango trickles its way down? I watch, my own mango sitting there forgotten and crumbled. “You want?” asks my colleague. I nod mutely. But my mango doesn’t agree. It gets up, walks out of the door, out to the factory, out to the streets, and continues walking to the tree where it came from and where it once stood proud ready to squeezed and licked and sawn apart. This gentle scooping of its insides is more painful than a violent death. I looked at the mango, and said goodbye silently. I know. Gentle scooping of the inside is more painful than a violent death. The mango walked out. I don’t.