Monday, July 9, 2012

The Sweetest Mango!

Come summer and it’s time to savor the king of fruits – the mango! While mango has never been my favorite when growing up, I ended up missing this tropical fruit the most in the last three years that we spent in the US.  So it wasn’t a surprise that when the makeshift mango bazaars sprung up at every corner of the city, we were amongst the first ones to line up. But what was a surprise that our five year old absolutely refused to bite into whatever variety of mango we brought home! Abhay has always been picky about fruits, but turning down the king of fruits almost feels blasphemous, particularly when we hail from a place that is famous its numerous sweet and sour preparations from the most celebrated fruit of India! So imagine my delight when I came across a Tulika Publication titled “The Sweetest Mango” but by the time I could lay my hands on the said book, it was nearing the end of Mango season! J

 Though I managed to read the book before the season’s last mangoes, I really wish that the mainstream bookstores would carry Tulika publications as and when they release. “The Sweetest Mango” by Malavika Shetty and pictures by Ajanta Guhathakurta, is a story based out of a small village in South Kanara district of Karnataka, and being a South Kanarite myself, I loved the references to the vernacular expressions of “Ganji”(rice porridge), “Dodda” (grandmother), and “aata” (a yakshagana perforamce).  The story begins with the author describing Suma’s love for mangoes and how her mouth waters at the thought of the pickles her grandmother would make out of raw, green and crunchy mangoes or curries her mother would prepare out of sweet ripened mangoes. But her most favorite summer activity is to climb up the mango trees around her house with her best friend Jyothi and pluck the firm, plump mangoes and bite into them while the juice drips through their fingers as they suck on the squishy fruit. Suma and Jyothi are neighbors in a village full of mango and coconut trees and this year it seems as if there are more mangoes than ever before. Suma and Jyothi loved guessing the number of mangoes on each tree as they walked to school every day. One day Suma, perched high on a mango tree spots a large round mango the variety commonly known as ‘mundappa’. Since it is still raw, she decides to wait till it ripenes into the round and juicy fruit it is  meant to be. As Suma makes great plans of plucking the fruit after a few days, she leaves out Jyothi from the plan as she desires the fruit all for herself. Every day, Suma keeps a close eye on the Mundappa and hopes that she would get it before anyone else could. So eager was Suma to savor the fruit, that she begins to see her mundappa in the ball the school children played on the school ground, or in the color of her ajja’s mundu (a cloth worn by men around their waist) or at the sunset! So when the D-day finally arrives, Suma is shocked to discover that her mango that was almost ripe a day ago, is now gone! Suma is inconsolable as she suspects the monkeys to have targeted her cherished mundappa before her! Just as Suma tries to reconcile to her fate, her friend Jyothi arrives with a surprise. Read on as the story ends with a valuable lesson for your little one brought out in a most subtle and sensitive manner complemented by the vibrant and colorful illustrations. A must read for anyone who loves mangoes and intends to get anyone to love mangoes! Did I manage to get my five year old sample at least one of them – that’s another story ….probably meant for another post! J

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