Monday, August 15, 2011
Dane Dane Pe Likha Hai Khanewale ka naam
I planted a Chikoo (Sapodilla, Sapota) sapling in front of my house about four years back. It had a better fate than the other plants and now I can call it a small tree. Last year we got about half a dozen fruits. This year there were hundreds of buds. As they flowered and small fruits appeared I could not help hoping for a feast. The fruits grew in size and just as I put my tongue out to lick my lips in anticipation, the group of monkeys descended from nowhere and attacked the tree. They ignored our feeble attempts to shoo them off, bared their teeth, growled and intimidated us and proceeded to destroy the tree. They tore away the tender shoots, plucked the fruits, bit them and threw them down littering the ground and the ants had a good time for the next two days.
In spite of the attack quite a few young fruits remained and as they grew in size I felt that all was not lost. In my anxiety not lose more fruits to monkeys, I plucked a few which I felt were mature and kept them for ripening. They either shriveled and dried up or rotted. I left the remaining on the tree to ripen and vowed to offer half the yield to Lord Hanuman if he kept his troop away from my tree. He obliged. The young fruits were maturing and I had identified about a dozen as suitable for plucking soon but then every morning I found one or two of them hanging half eaten on the tree. I thought it to be some bird but one of my patients who saw the half eaten fruits said that it is the fruit bat’s work and advised me to pluck the remaining fruits before the bats finished them off.
This morning when I came out for my walk, I saw this fruit on one of the lower branches probably just after the bat had had its fill and left. By the time I returned from my walk the Bul Bul was flying around the fruit. When I came back with the camera the bird was not there but it was time for the wasp and fruit flies to fill their stomachs. The wasp remained on the fruit for nearly three hours. By afternoon the fruit was lying on the ground and the crow was pecking at it. I could hardly identify the fruit in the evening. It was a lump of red ants.
They say “dane dane pe likha hai khane wale ka naam” which I can translate as “Every grain bears the name of the one who gets to eat it”. My chikoo fruits have the names of monkeys, fruit bats, bul bul, wasp, fruit flies, crow and ant on them.
I plucked a few more this evening to try my luck and see if I can erase those names and put my name on them. If I fail again I will give up my claim.
After all, six species surviving on one fruit is better for this world than one species devouring hundreds.
No, the fruits are not sour. They are sweet, as honey. Really.