Fruits form a major part of my diet. More the merrier. If there is nothing else, at least a banana is compulsory in my breakfast and dinner. My father was known for his partiality towards fruits. He would walk barefoot but would be extravagant while buying fruits. He always bought the best. Like all 60+ people I make the statement “these days I have not even seen fruits of such a quality as those which my father used to bring when we were children” and I mean it. May be the affinity is in the genes.
When we shifted to this place, where we have little bit of space around the house, I planted few fruit bearing trees. I watered and manured them, pruned them, protected them from cattle and in general took care of them. Now they have grown up and are yielding. Every morning I spend a few minutes searching for fruits hidden among the leaves. I do get some, now and then. Sri Krishna in his Bhagavadgeeta says “ma phaleshu kadachana - You are not entitled to the fruits of your labour”, meaning, don’t expect any fruits from your labour. He probably never planted trees. He was a cowherd. If you have planted a tree, you can’t help searching for fruits. As I understand, he meant "ma phaleshu kadachana" in a broader spiritual sense and I accept that his advice is sound. I try to adhere to it in other facets of life, but ignore it while looking for fruits in the tree.
Some of the trees which have given me satisfactory returns are the Chikoo, Guava, Plantains and Coconut. The chikoo is now a full grown tree and is the best of the lot. In fact I just got quite a few last week. I have purchased a contraption for plucking the ones that are beyond reach. It is being put into good use and I am able to lay my hands on what was earlier the confirmed share of fruit bats and birds.
Papaya is one fruit which is liked by everyone at home but I have not been able to grow it successfully. I did plant some but it is impossible to protect them from monkeys. Monkeys love papaya and they don’t wait for the fruits. They just tear away the tender leaves and twigs and eat them. My plants never had a chance to grow. One or two of them escaped the monkey’s attention but still had a stunted growth and grudgingly gave out some fruits little bigger than a lemon. I was disappointed. We don’t get good variety of papayas in the market these days. All that we get are the ones which I have shown here.
They look diseased and are tasteless. They never ripen well. A part of the fruit is still unripe when the other side is already starting to rot. And depending on your luck you may find one among the ten really worth eating. I buy them as there is no alternative. Good papayas are not available in the market even if you are ready to pay a price for them.
A man came to the clinic few days back complaining of a terrible toothache and begging me to remove the offending tooth. Since it was not possible to remove the tooth then and there, I advised him to take some medications and comeback after a few days. He enquired about my fee but did not appear to be strong enough to bear the load of my fees as well as the cost of medicines. So, I waived my fees off. You may consider it a kindness if you so wish.
I saw him standing in front of my house early in the morning two days later when I returned from my walk. I told him that he is too early for his extraction and asked him to come a little later. He said that he has no pain at all and did not want the tooth removed. He handed me a plastic bag and left in a hurry. I was overjoyed to find in the bag among half a dozen plantains, a nice plump papaya with a blemishless yellowish orange skin, fully ripe and just right to be cut. It contained a thick, creamy and sweet pulp and it was years since we had got such a tasty fruit. It made our morning breakfast and my day! I have saved to seeds to make another attempt at growing papayas.
I had mentioned about my kindness towards the man. I consider my kindness repaid many times over!