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Mangoes: Poem: Reminiscences and Regrets

Updated on July 18, 2012

Reminiscences and Regrets

The smell of crushed mango leaves
Takes me back to more than forty years ago,
To early schooldays,
When little boys in khaki shorts stand
Eating tangy, raw mango slices,
Cut long and cross-wise,
Dipped in salt and chili powder -
Lip-smacking -
Purchased from the push-cart vendor
Outside the huge iron school gate.

Mangoes bluish-green, tinged with purple-yellow,
Hanging from thin stems in large leafy trees;
Mangoes plucked fresh from branches,
Tasting like coconut,
Crunchy and just-sweet.
I remember baskets of dark-green mangoes
(Raw, and hard as little cannon-balls)
Purchased in lots in summer markets,
Chopped into pieces to prepare
Avakaaya - a red, hot, spicy pickle
Arriving in April in native households;
Eaten with fresh ghee and rice,
Is ambrosia for the taste-buds.

Nothing can beat the lusciously sweet, thick
Juicy slices of the golden Benisha,
A plump and lovely drupe.
(Other famous varieties found in the north -
Totapuri, Chausa, Dussehri -
Are no match for this buxom beauty,
This darling of all tropical fruit -
Save the Alphonso,
Grown in Konkan gardens.)

I've eaten plums, apples, cherries, grapes
(But Western fruit are no comparison really);
Loose-jacketed Nagpur mandarin
Oranges, known as Santraas,
And varieties of sugary bananas,
Besides ripe jack-fruit
(Whose flavour and texture -
Delectable it is true -
Cannot match the taste of a juicy Rasaalu)
And sticky-sweet pineapple rings, cut with a sickle,
Purchased at Ponda in the foothills of Goa.
I remember bunches of lychees in the Siliguri market,
Peeling off the hard red rind and then plopping
The smooth wet flesh, translucent white, dripping sweet,
Into my mouth, my fingers all sticky,
And then spitting out the big black seed.

These are memories from early days,
Sparked by the mild crackling scent of
Crushed mango leaves.
And now observing the evil of recent years,
In city streets, where bright yellow fruit,
Ripened with chemicals, wreck unwary consumers,
(And debilitated, they die)
While municipal authorities, their pockets
Full of bribes, turn a blind eye:
I've decided to reduce consumption
Of this noble fruit, thanks to the lax
Food laws of a grossly insensitive nation.
(I call this 'mango desecration'!)

There's a scent of Mango Leaf,
Described as 'reminiscent of a lazy
Summer afternoon, a lushly bright, cheerful
Composition', but I can give it a miss!
I'm not prepared for this:
Toxic fruit and genetically-modified
Gourds, brinjals and tomatoes,
Products of mad scientists,
Adding to various fears and woes.
So, with great regret, it's
'Goodbye, Mangoes!'

©Roland N. Oliver/Tan Pratonix

*********

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      Hendi D. Hendrata 7 years ago

      Beautiful expression of your childhood memories, Thank you Brother Roland. I like mango. In my country, Indonesia, we have many kinds of mangoes, but I only like mango yellowish-green from Indramayu, West Java. So we call it "Mangga Indramayu" (Indramayu mango), it's very famous in Indonesia. You described this fruit very well.

    • Pratonix profile image
      Author

      Pratonix 7 years ago from Asia

      Thanks, Kalto. You're radiant, as always. :)

    • kaltopsyd profile image

      kaltopsyd 7 years ago from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA

      I haven't checked on you in a while so here I am. :-) This was a lovely piece. Thanks for sharing!

    • Pratonix profile image
      Author

      Pratonix 7 years ago from Asia

      Thanks, Violet! Appreciate your comments. I guess I may have to churn out some 'utilitarian' poetry for my 'useful' critics! :)

    • VioletSun profile image

      VioletSun 7 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

      Glad you led me to this hub; I could almost feel, smell and taste the mangos of your childhood. The poem gives a message while we go back to the past with the poet.

      By the way, I rated it "beautiful", but assume those who gave it a "useful" rating (odd for a poem, I know, LOL) may have done this because your poem also brings awareness about the toxics we find in fruits.

    • Pratonix profile image
      Author

      Pratonix 7 years ago from Asia

      I just want to thank Quill, Aguasilver, Lifegate and DevinCo, for appreciating this poem.

      I was surprised that others found it 'useful'! Utilitarian poetry is only for Poet Laureates.

    • profile image

      DevinCo 7 years ago

      Thank you for sharing these memories in this great poem. I really enjoyed it.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 7 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Great expression and image development. Thanks.

    • aguasilver profile image

      John Harper 7 years ago from Malaga, Spain

      Evocative, thank you. I shall attempt to explore these wonderful foods.

    • profile image

      "Quill" 7 years ago

      Wonderful Hub... filled with fond memories some stirred from within as I was reading of my own past. Very well done.

      Blessings

    • Pratonix profile image
      Author

      Pratonix 7 years ago from Asia

      I am just wondering. Two people marked this hub 'useful' and one 'beautiful'. I didn't know that poems were useful! They are mostly beautiful, or awesome, or funny, or whatever. But useful?

      Hope someone is not going to use this as a thesis on mangoes!

    • charmstotreasure profile image

      charmstotreasure 7 years ago

      Just covering some gray today (shh!) and enjoyed my own memories :) Nice Hub!

    • profile image

      Susan Hughes 7 years ago

      I can taste the mangoes as you describe them Roland. Thank you for this picturesque poem about fond memories of pure untouched fruit straight off the tree. Yes sadly, we have to thoroughly wash off all the chemicals on some fruit imported from overseas. Thankfully here in Bahrain there is local produce of a good quality and untouched. God Bless

    • Pratonix profile image
      Author

      Pratonix 7 years ago from Asia

      Thanks, Mohsin and Kristeen. Glad you enjoyed the reminiscences.

    • Kristeen profile image

      Christine 7 years ago from Michigan

      Very interesting pratonix. Having never been to Asia, I had never heard of some of the fruits you mentioned. It sounds like you have some very fond memories of you childhood. Time and years change things, not always for the better.

      God bless you. Thanks for writing.

    • profile image

      khmohsin 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing such nice information. Hubs are basically to share such useful knowledge and to provide the best awareness. I really appreciate your efforts.

      Thanks again...

      Regards,