It seems, at rare moments of reflections, that many aspects of our lives have become metamorphosed into an artificial existence these days! At times, in order to escape this unfathomable feeling of disillusionment and boredom, at least for a while, many of us, our minds may tend to take refuge somewhere in the past where one could somehow find some kind of solace, traveling back to that time and space where perhaps we had been less concerned about material achievements or failures.
At moments like these, it is your childhood days that you can always depend upon. Those endless chain of treasure hunts. Where else could one retreat to when one finds oneself woken up from such colourless dreams and delusions!
It's like growing back to that fragile infant baby again and falling back onto the lap of your mother once more. To be consoled on her benevolent bosoms, to be fed with her breast milk and falling back into that careless sleep on her ever-supportive shoulders and be worried about nothing in the world. No earthquakes, no tsunamies, no stock market rise or fall is going to worry you anymore. Her soothing voice humming in your soul even while you are carefully being laid into the cradle, and her melodious singing and the swinging of the cradle keeps you calm and quite, you might as well place one of your thump fingers into your toothless mouth in sheer ecstasy and be oblivious of the whole world. In company with beautiful angels, you may smile looking at the stars around you and giggle yourself, seeing this, your mother may forget all her perpetual sorrows and worries and sing for you yet sweeter lullabies and Aesop fables.
Or, it is like growing back to the days of your childhood when you were still in your primary school classes. You had in your neighborhood, very close to your own home, a large mango tree. Your very memories begin with this huge tree with its long leafy branches spread across and around the field where you used to spend your whole days once upon a time, long ago, yet your memories seems still frozen with those times. The time when that mango tree gets ornamented with its blooms, the time when those tiny baby mangoes are grown and seen hanging down from the green thick leafy branches, the time when they keep falling to the ground because of your passionate prayer and desire to mouth them in their tender age.
You may have tasted Chinese food, Japanese Sushi or Mexican delicacies or exotic fruits of various breed or brand. But that pungent smell and taste of those infant mangoes in its early stages, then the juicy rich, mouth watering sugary taste when it ripens never fade away from the tip of your tongue.
Those wild summer seasons, the month of May, when the school is still on vacation and you the children are camped around the mango tree from dawn until dusk. Waiting in the soothing shadow of the vast mango tree in a hot summer, waiting for the cool breeze that brings you on its wings the cooling comfort of the Mother Nature. The same breeze that blesses you when it passes through the leafy branches of the mango tree when ripened, sweet, yellow burst, mouth watering mangoes are waiting for the feather touch of the wind to fall into your hand. The other companions that you fondly remember are those beautiful noisy, mischievous squirrels, crows and party above you who in their own celebration of the season jump from branch to branch in merriment and endless dancing that makes the ripened sweet mangoes find their way down to your eagerly and earnestly waiting little hands.
A falling mango is expected to make a thudding noise when it hits the ground. So, you keep your ears in a permanent state of alert. Once a mango falling noise is heard, your eyes simultaneously jump into action to locate the fallen fruit. It may have fallen on pure earth, or among the dry leaves. In the later case, it demands further exertion of your eyes to locate it exactly. Once it is located, begins the real "survival of the fittest" contest. The most sharp, agile, able runner may grab it. But if someone is lucky enough to be near the falling hot spot, he or she may get it without much effort. And others continue their wait for their lucky moment to arrive (fall).
Sometimes, arguments arise over a disputed grab of the mango. One says, “I got it first, but you snatched it away from me. So, it belongs to me”. Or perhaps he would say, “I saw it first” usually a weak argument point to make a claim.
But, often, with good solidarity, children share their fortune of sweet mangoes with their buddies who were not lucky enough that particular day. Thus, the good camaraderie is kept intact for the most part between the kids. After all, it was an age of innocence. Wasn’t it?
A scene from Vikom Muhamed Basheer's Balyakaala Sakhi comes to mind. In the beginning of the story, we see Majeed and Suhara under a mango tree arguing over a fallen mango. At the heat of the moment, ensuing an intense verbal fight, Suhara rushes forward and gives Majeed a skin peeling, burning scratch with her sharp, long finger nails. In reply, Majeed thinks over how to revenge her appropriately, but his imagination fails him to find a way. Then to his delight, Majeed sees Suhara’s small hut like house and his tile roofed comparably well built house through the coconut and banana trees. Both of them are neighbors. Looking at both the houses Majeed’s face brightens and he declares to Suhara with a victorious smile: “See, my house is tile roofed, but yours is leaf roofed” (roofed with dried coconut leaves). But then, to his horror Majeed finds out that Suhara is not a bit annoyed at this earth shaking attack on her honor. She simply stays cool and never loses her pose. He feels defeated and beaten by a “little girl” again. However, after this fighting between them and Majeed’s humiliating defeat thereupon, gradually, both of them become best of friends on the course, and the story progresses to a heart wrenching end that no reader of Basheer can ever forget.