Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Swing and The Mango Tree

 Our father worked abroad…so did most of my uncles (on both my mom’s and dad’s side)… And so most of us were the NRI cubs who got to meet up with our cousins only when we came back home on our summer vacations.  And these summer vacations were the dream-come-true days for us, the bunch of apartment-reared kids. 

We used this valuable time to get completely tanned frolicking in the sun, get our arms and legs decorated with bug bites, smuggle pickled mangoes and gooseberries from the store room and feast on them, use the pool to show off our swimming skills and hold water fights and to attack the heavy laden mango trees, pluck raw and ripe mangoes and gorge on them all through the day.

We had a lonely mango tree standing in the corner of the courtyard at my mom’s house. From as long as I can remember, I had never seen that mango tree bearing fruits. This big, thick trunk-ed, abundantly branched out tree flowered every summer but never gave us any fruit. Yet, it stood there, majestic, head held high, because fruit, or no fruit, this was the tree that was loved unconditionally because he was the bearer of our swing set every vacation…

Though our gang remained mostly unanimous on the plan for every other prank and game to be played for the day, there was one thing all of us coveted for…an unlimited access to the swing set which was set up temporarily on the branch of Mr. Mango Tree.  It was the first thing we clamored for as soon as we reached home turf …and which our grand mom foresaw every time the summer vacations approached, I believe…The swing would be ready by the time we had settled in, and then began the fight on whose chance it was to use it.  After many bargains and trading, the turns to use it would be decided (though never adhered to) and the fun began…There were challenges thrown to each other on the heights that could be scaled using the swing, whirling round and round till we got dizzy and giggling through the dizziness and when in particularly a benevolent mood, sharing the swing seat with our closest friend in the group.    

A dreamer, even as a kid, I remember being the one who spent most of the time on the swing, even after everyone else grew tired of it. Somehow, being able to be play on it was something I found exhilarating…it was my chance to saunter into my dream world…where I’d riding on a very fast horse, in pursuit of the villainous pirates I had to capture…or flying on the magic carpet…or at times, acting out the part of a  fearless adventurer who was on his way through valleys and mountains, trying to scale greater heights.…I was the one who stationed myself permanently on the swing, with or without my books, and chose to either lazily sway on, lost in my book or go on yet another one of adventure trips, with the breeze blowing in my face as I flew higher and higher on the swing.

Now that all of us have become all grown up and busy entangled in the webs of adult life, the swing had been removed from the branches of Mr. Mango Tree…and ever since, he had stood there, ignored, alone and forlorn, no longer surrounded by the gang of rowdy kids, no longer an audience to the many games, plays and fights, no longer a silent listener of the jokes, laughs and the general clamor that only a bunch of kids can make.

On my every trip back home, I saw the lonely tree, magnificent and green, a remembrance of our childhood times…The last time I went back home, though, I saw that Mr. Mango Tree had reached the end of his life and had toppled over in a storm that had hit my hometown.  I felt strangely sad for him and silently mourned his demise.

Me, the dreamer, have moved to a different city and have found solace in the swing sets in a local park. I have received my fair share of amused stares (from parents) and friendly grins (from the kids)…I even made friends with a few of those kids on swings on one of my trips to the park.  Yet, once in a while, I remember Mr. Mango Tree, who, in all his grandeur, played a prominent role in making the childhood memories of this gypsy kid a little bit more colorful. And some day, I know that I will have my own Mr. Mango Tree, planted in the memory of the one who had ceased to stand alone, majestic and head held high.  

9 comments:

  1. That's really beautiful story! In my opinion childhood memories are the the best we have - we were so careless and we found fun in things that are boring for adults. I miss that...
    And... I love mangos :)

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  2. I agree Starlight, those were the best times.... :)

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  3. Oh, you've done such a wonderful job describing Mr Mango that I felt sad when I read that he toppled! I hope you get your own Mr Mango sooner rather than later!

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  4. @ANichols: Thank you.... I hope so too... :)

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  5. I love this story! It reminds me of the grapevines that used to grow in my grandparents' backyard on the West Side of Buffalo, NY. There was one particular vine( or series of vines) that hung like a sling and was sturdy enough for my cousins and me to sit and moderately swing on. It was wonderful because it was hidden in the summertime under the canopy of grape leaves- a secret swing in a sweet place. Thank you for sharing this memory.

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  6. @A.Cappelli: That sounds so beautiful and nice. Thanks for sharing that memory with me... :)

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  7. hey caterpillar! i just tagged you. a friend tagged me to answer 10 questions which i did, and now i'm tagging you to answer it too. it's really fun!:)

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  8. swings and trees, albeit separately, are part of my childhood memories too. for few years we lived in a huge apartment complex in kerala, and tucked away in one corner was the playground with the swings. every day we had a competition for who could swing the fastest, highest. ah.. it was liberating. we knew no fear. I do not recollect, but I am sure we had our share of falls on the swing. but the playground overlooked backwaters, and it was a treat watching the sunset swinging high into the sky.
    will blog about the tree. I am surprised I did not do it yet :)

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  9. @Rohini: Those were the fun times, weren't they?

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