The smell of Odonil fills our city homes. At this time of the year, I remember vividly, our home in the village used to fill up with the heady smell of luscious, ripe mangoes. We didn’t have too many mango trees in our land then. The ones we had were still very small. So we used to ‘hire’ a tree for a month from our neighbor’s land. This was way back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. If my memory serves me right, it used to cost Rs 300. All the mangoes during that time were ours. We used to keep it in a big basket & eat nearly 5-6 in a single day, the juice flowing down our hands. Ummaa!! The little joys of life.
In South Canara, we make this spicy sweet thing from mangoes by mixing green chilies, salt and the mashed pulp of ripe, juicy mangoes. It tastes so yummy!! I used to savor my lunch on the days we had this special, ‘quick’ dish. It had no particular name. It was simply called “maavinannu gojju”.
I had a Gujarati friend, Nina, in Mangalore. I was working as a Lecturer in the University & I used to home tutor her for the languages. It was in their home that I tasted the famous Gujju “aam ras”, the sweet dish they make from mangoes & have for lunch. It’s so good!
When I see the fruit laden carts on the road, I feel nostalgic thinking about the trees in our village house – especially mango, jackfruit & perley(guava). I was very attached to these trees because on them I could climb, play, jump, eat, study, and hide! You couldn’t do all this on a coconut or tamarind tree. They were too straight & big for my little feet. I hated ‘gaali mara’(acasia tree). My father used to beat us with the thin branch of this tree. It was worse than ‘bettha’(stick used to beat).
I would have loved my daughter to grow up in a village. Like I did from class 4 right up to my post-graduation. Village life does something wonderful to your psyche.