Our papaya tree did yield two fruits at last. We had saved the seeds from a very tasty fruit given to us by a friend and had sown them. Resident ants of our garden loved the taste of the seeds and they finished most of the seeds. Out of the few seedlings that came up, three grew up. I planted them at three different places around the house. One died due to stagnation of water around the roots. Monkeys ate one sapling when it was about two feet high and very tender. I managed to save the third one and it grew at its own pace. It was nearly eight feet high and was flowering during last rains. One morning after a very windy and rainy night I found the tree lying flat on the ground. Since the roots were intact, I lifted it up and supported it with whatever was handy. Sticks, bricks and used car tyres to name a few. It survived the monsoon and another onslaught of monkeys and the flowers turned into tiny raw fruits. We eagerly waited for them to grow in size but one after the other they ripened and rotted overnight while they were still very small. To our relief, this phenomenon stopped on its own and some of the fruits grew in size. But they remained green even after they were quite large. I was observing them every day and when I detected (or imagined?) a very faint yellow shade in two of them I plucked those two in an attempt to prevent them from rotting on the tree and kept them separately hoping that they would ripen naturally. Nothing happened for three days and I was expecting them to dry up. To our great surprise they had silently turned to a beautiful orange- yellow on the fourth morning reminding me of Mankutimma’s ‘Phala maaguvandu tuttoori daniyilla’ (Trumpets are not blown when the fruit ripens).
I was sure that the fruits would taste as good as they appear and they did. But better was the taste of success in nurturing the plant and getting the fruits in hand. We had just finished the one that was cut and was about to go for the next when a friend of mine came along carrying some fresh vegetables he had grown in his field. He had been bringing us vegetables this season and we had nothing to offer him in return. The papaya came in handy. He accepted our home grown papaya with pleasure. Its feels nice to nurture a plant and get the fruit in hand but feels even better to offer the fruit to someone we like. “haNNu hanchi tinnu, hoovu koTTu muDi” goes the saying (share your fruits and flowers).
I have written about our chikoo, guava and plantains earlier and this papaya is probably the last, at least for the time being. We do have another two trees in our compound, the mango and the coconuts. Considering the rate at which the mango is growing, only the progeny beyond my great grandson/daughter may have some chance of tasting the fruit. One coconut tree has just started with the first flower and I do not know how long it takes for the flowers to turn into coconuts. People who are in the know about plants and trees (or think they know the plants and trees) say that the first flower of a coconut tree never turns into coconuts and they also say that I have made a mistake planting the mango and coconut next to each other. I believe both of them are highly ‘individualistic’ trees and will never thrive in the company of the other.
When my wife hears such observations about my mistakes, she whole heartedly approves their view adding that this house has as many mistakes as the number of bricks used in its construction. She also says that if I can make a list of all my mistakes and put them on the blog, at least the blog, (on which I waste such a lot of time) would be useful for someone who intends planning his/her own house!
That apart, talking about the trees, I read somewhere that after we leave the house in which we grow up and set up a house of our own we tend to recreate the atmosphere of the one in which we lived as children. I do not know if it is so but when we found ourselves with some space around this house in which we could plant some fruit trees, the first tree that I thought of planting was the guava tree. Was it because the memory of the guava tree which was in front of our house in Bangalore and on which we have spent a considerable part of our childhood never fades away?
I would like to write about this guava tree and few others which were around our house in Bangalore. We have enjoyed their presence and they have many pleasant memories associated with them. But it would get really long. So, I will take my brother’s example of writing in pieces and save them for the next bit if and when I can make it. In the hope of continuing about our fruit trees I have named this ‘Fruit Trees - 1’.