Mango is not just a fruit. It is an emotion to cherish.
To the music of India and to the golden fruit that sweetens and mellows the Indian summers, and to the cuckoo whom I heard sing this morning…
“Thou bringest unto me a tale of visionary hours.”
Somewhere in India lived a man and his wife. Both the man and his wife loved music, for it was music which had brought them together as both could sing beautifully. Their heart and soul ever brimmed with music and their days and nights were filled with it.
The couple desperately prayed for a child, but deep down in the heart of his heart the man craved for a daughter. He dreamt that his daughter would be endowed with a voice so honeyed that, when she would sing the nightingale would have to hide in shame.
Meanwhile the boisterous and spirited Spring had just received a letter from Autumn asking it to come down South at once. Therefore Spring was waiting for Summer, so that it could handover the responsibilities to Her and leave. A haughty Summer sauntered in, took charge from Spring, whom she gave a condescending glance. Spring left at once for he did not want to be at the receiving end of Summer’s dry laconic humour.
Summer immediately assumed duties and pompously wandered across the hills and glades spreading her pride. She happened to be passing by the couple’s house that moonlit night, when they broke into a song, a song that was as free as the southern breeze, as pure as love, as pleasant as a smile, as fragrant as sandal, as smooth as butter, as sweet as honey, as green as the tender grass that grew by the river side. Summer was so enamoured by it that she stood by the window listening to it.
The song caused even Summer to become smitten which was against her grain and with her eyes all dreamy and dewy she transformed the song that the couple sang into a sweet golden fruit that we today know as the mango.
The words or bol of the song became its succulent flesh, the tune or Sur of the song turned into the juice that sweetened the flesh of the fruit and the meaning or bhava of the song went on to become the pit of the fruit while the love for music in the heart of the couple manifested itself into a rich, golden and red colour of the fruit and above all the sincerity with which they man and his wife rendered the song became its fragrance.
Early next morning when the woman was up and about, she saw the golden fruit by the window ledge. So tempted was she at the sight, and fragrance of the golden ripe mango, a fruit that she had never seen before that she gobbled it up at once. Having eaten the fruit she felt a heavenly bliss pervading her senses. Soon she realised that she was with child and nine full moons later she bore a baby-girl as beautiful and as fresh as a blooming lotus.
As days changed into weeks, weeks into months, and months to years, the baby girl grew up to be a beautiful young woman, whose beauty could only be surpassed by the sweetness of her voice, thus the man’s dream had come true. Her mellifluous songs charmed every being who heard them, whether it be humans or other creatures. Her songs would leave every one spellbound. When she sang, the river flowing nearby, wished it could stop flowing for a wee while to listen her.
The breeze often blew past the girl’s house to gather the honeyed mellow songs that the girl sang which made it softer, so that it could breeze up to spell relief to those that worked hard in the fields and furrows. The rays of the Sun, were reluctant to leave at sunset for all day they remained intoxicated in the dulcet songs that the girl sang.
Soon the clearing near the girl’s house started getting filled with mango trees, as the songs of the girl got transformed into golden mangoes from which sprouted mango trees and from these trees hundreds and thousands of mangoes.
When it was time for the girl to leave the world, Summer came by to bless her and she became a cuckoo. And ever since then the cuckoo lives in mango trees and sweetens the fruit with its songs which in turn sweetens the dreary Indian summers.
The music of India that she inherited from her parents lived through her and her music lives through the sweet golden fruit that sweetens India. Every mango is thus a reminder that it is after all a song of love and or so I would like to believe.
(Nilambara Banerjee is a former professor of St. Xaviers College Ranchi.)
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