The Jackfruit Saga Ends

The Saga Ends

It was nearing the end of the year. Winter had set in. The land around was turning dry. Leaves were wilting.The garden needed regular watering. I told Prem, my driver to do this. He soon got tired of it..
I would be leaving shortly for a month long training at my home town. I hoped he would water the garden regularly. But given his temperament and lazy nature, I nursed some doubts within…

A month passed off and another without me able to visit that house again.
I was trying to move away from that town. Numerous problems were playing havoc and I needed a respite. That meant I would have to hand over my beloved quarter and leave the place once and for all.
My heart felt heavy but it was inevitable. I had to make repeated visits to and fro to Shillong and ultimately my wishes were fulfilled. I had finally got a transfer.
I completed all the formalities and ultimately handed over the papers of my quarter to the Superintendent of the hospital. I had lost my most prized possession.

I consoled myself with what I had come with and what will I carry back with me sayings.
The packers and movers were scheduled to come the next day to pack and carry off the Spartan belongings I had.

It was early February. I would not get to see the Jackfruits this time. They appeared in late April. But it was all right. I had spent some of the best moments of my life there. I would be eternally grateful for that.😔😔.

I said goodbye to my colleagues and friends, thanked my staff and all and made my way back home. I wanted to have a last look at my quarter before I left.
I climbed my way up the stairs when I gasped in surprise. Three trees towered high up….loaded with loads and loads of little jackfruits. I could not believe my eyes. The season was still a good two months away. Not a single tree among the hundreds by the roadside had flowered and here were they, hanging in couples, waving joyously.
‘ For you…you wanted to see us….we are here for you.’
My eyes fell wet. I went to each of them, thanking them. My amazement knew no end. Even the other two who bore only a handfuland that too on the top, were loaded from near the ground.
‘Leave joyously. Your time in here is over.’
I heard within me. There was not much breeze then but somehow the fruits seemed to be moving and waving in the breeze.
I came back to the front yard on my way back down. The trees in here stood stoically straight and unwavering. I locked the gate and started descending the steps when I heard, ‘ Good she is leaving. Does not even water us. Leaves us to die.’
I came to a halt and turned back. So true they were. Their leaves had dried up. Prem had not kept his word. Some managed while others wilted.
‘May you get a proper resident this time around who stays here and takes care of you all. I can only bless you if that is of help.’
I said and turned back.
The North east states get rain fall almost round the year. I seldom remember my home state Maharashtra and think how tough life is for farmers there. The charred earth gapes open, the Sun blows fire and farmers toil hard in this land with their sweat and blood. Here the perennial rain does that. How blessed are the farmers here.
Even vegetables and fruits grow in the jungles and have to be just plucked and sold…

Yes, I had neglected the trees and blessings could never really take the place of food, isn’t it?

Unfortunately no one applied for that quarter after I left. I hoped someone did so and prayed regularly for it. Then nature intervened. It rained heavily through out the year. Trees became lively again. When I visited it after a year, grass as long as two feet had grown all over. It seemed like a dense forest.
‘ Do not go up. There are huge snakes in there. ‘😟😟
Somebody yelled at me as I was about to climb up.
‘Your trees miss you. No more fruits this year.’ The neighbouring friend yelled from her window.
I kept quiet.
They needed rest, to rejuvenate too..🙂🙂

The Jackfruit Tree Part 2

How time flies off…Days turned into weeks and months to a year and it was the Jackfruit season again. The last year fruits had gathered a lot of accolades. I had a request list ready for this year again. But I was wary this time…

There were two other trees too but I was an unkind stepmother to them. They were at the farthest end of the backyard on uneven hilly terrain. Besides, because of being on the higher end, torrential rains had decamped with substantial crust of the earth, making the thick roots
jet out on the surface. Balancing myself on them was a feat. I loved myself too much to risk having broken bones. Besides, they were huge trees who did not need care. Grownups, whether trees or human beings, don’t need all that love or affection like kids…Or do they??

Probably it only seems so… Many times tough exteriors hide a soft, vulnerable spirit yearning for love and care…When this is deprived, resentment, anger, hatred, depression and diseases follow….

Is it because of the rampant landscaping…around ? Landscaping of land, of children and their spirits too…everything to be done in a particular way so that it looks beautiful…….but when beauty does not uplift the spirit.. is it worthwhile?🤔🤔🤔🤔

An uplifted spirit which has found its roots sustains itself.

The roots sucked out whatever needed from the depths of the earth. They bore only a handful of fruits and those too remained beyond reach ….dangling menacingly from the top of the trees.
‘ Be kind enough not to fall on me or my children’s head.’ I seldom told them silently.
I hoped, this time their fruits would be accessible for distribution.

I spend sometime admiring my favourite tree everyday. Little bees flew in perhaps drinking the white sap.. the valleys spread as far as eyes could see. It was like a beautiful green gown adorned with white fluffy clouds and sparkling ribbons of streams… As I sat on my chair admiring the beauty around, doing absolutely nothing, the universe flowed through me…water, air, earth and the ether..
I took all of this in everyday but it never had occurred to me how deeply was I a part of them all. Housed in a body made out of things taken from the earth, daily sustaining it by its produce, and drinking off its springs, I still thought of myself as different, unique from the universe around….when all the time it was within me.😇🙂.

My trees flowered late as compared to others in the town. Probably they prepared themselves better… late April would they start flowering and fruits would be ready by June end lasting up to July..
I patiently watched them grow. I clicked photographs at regular intervals.
One such day as I stood near the tree, ‘ Take some more pictures of me.’
I almost heard it clearly.
‘But I have already taken many.’ I thought to myself.
I can take home at least a few fruits once they reach their potential. I will not take all, of course. I was thinking as I stood there.
‘This time my fruits are not for you.’ I heard loud and clear within me.

My imagination is running too much amok these days, I thought as I dismissed what I heard. It was as if the tree will decide who eats its fruits.
It was as if it will go about distributing it’s produce. I went back inside my house in disgust.

In a couple of weeks time, the fruits had grown almost to their full extent. I was thinking about starting the harvesting.
The next day, the driver Prem came running to the Out Patient Department of the hospital.
‘ Madam, all is lost. Your quarter gates have been broken into.’ He said with deep anguish.
Alarmed, I told the patients to wait and ran to my house.
The gate lock was lying on the stairs below. I ran to the front gate of the house. The lock was intact.
I turned to the driver.
“Only this front gate lock has been broken open! I thought the house..’
He interrupted me,
‘The Jackfruit tree!’ He said, pointing towards the backyard.
I ran towards it.
There it stood quietly, devoid of every single fruit….literally stripped of all it had….
“Such nice fruits Madam. How I wished I could take atleast five of them.”
Prem held his head low as he said this.
‘They must have brought a big vehicle. How else can they carry more than sixty of them, each weighing more than ten kgs each?” He said.

” It is all right.” I said.
I wanted to add, “Let’s respect the wishes of the tree.”

Of course I did not say that. I did not like the risk of losing my mind, in his eyes.
As I made my way back to the hospital, the truth of ‘ DANE DANE MEIN LIKHA HAI KHANE WALA KA NAAM’ ( Hindi) reverberated in my mind.

Who does this writing? 🤔🤔🤔Is it God or the tree itself?


Heaps of fragment mangoes lay open on either side of the road, ready to be sold to the next customer.Some seemed to be separated too young from their mothers, others were ripe and full and some lay old, wrinkled and a little black. If the latter were not retrieved at the earliest for delighting some human being, they would perish.
Did that possibility make them sad? Can’t say for sure. Do they really have a weakness for us as we have for them? Again can’t say for sure….

I had a beautiful hill top quarter a few years back. Thirty steps lead to it in a gradual incline. The lower part of the hill was covered with varied flower plants on all the sides. Some I knew by their names and some I did not. I did not even feel the need to google and find out.They were wild and lent a certain untamed touch to the hill which I loved. I delighted in the wilderness and uncertainty of the forest. Isn’t life not like that too, surprising and untamed? We know not what lies in the next bend round the corner. But we carry onwards with faith and hope.
The top of the hill had a small plateau like structure which housed my quarter. The rocky garden out had trees of many types. The Bouganvillea shrub rose taller than 20 feet, spread it’s branches far and wide and formed a huge crown of purple flowers on the roof of the house. Between its branches grew intertwined two huge berry trees which borefruit perennially. In Summer, the ground became laden with brown berries and purple jamuns and purple Bouganvillea flowers and they all smelled like Jackfruit together. It’s overpowering, ripened smell spread everywhere and did not give a chance to the others to assert themselves. So they all smelled like one.

I loved the three Jackfruit trees in the premises, especially the one near the kitchen window in the backyard. I watched it quietly every day as it lost all leaves and turned into a skeleton, then small light green leaves sprouted out and then as the leaves became bright and shone, flowers sprang forth. A small thunderstorm raged every night and I watched the fallen flowers in dismay. This meant lesser fruits. This tree had the best fruit of all. Each grew up to ten to twelve kilograms, mostly crowding towards the lower part of the trunk. Watching them grow steadily filled me with pleasure. This one for Mother in law, that for my neighbour, that for my friend etc…..I earmarked them all for someone. I wonder retrospectively, now, if they ever felt antagonized by my marking them as such.
Why does this remind me of child marraige?🤔🤔

The fruits grew big and ripe and were all plucked and sent packing to the persons designated.

The season was nearing an end. The tree stood stoically depleted of its last fruit. I know not why it looked dissatisfied. Was it a figment of my imagination? I brushed aside the thought. I had always felt a certain connection with plant life right from childhood….as if they reached out to me…as if I was somehow an extension of them……just being in their vicinity put the scales back to where they were supposed to be within me…

Is there a reason why Saints and Sadhus head towards the hills and the mountains for delving within themselves? Is it only because of the comparitive quietitude that the forests afford? Or is there more than what meets the eye?🤔🤔🤔🤔.

Coming back to the present, I brushed off the unpleasant thoughts. It
was it’s destiny, isn’t it? To be consumed by humans far and wide so that it’s seeds could be sprinkled for little similar plants to grow. I was after all aiding its life processes, I thought smugly.

I could not visit my quarter for a few days after that. I did not dwell regularly in it for I stayed in a joint family elsewhere in the town.
That day when I climbed up the stairs to it, I was overpowered by the fragrant smell again. How could it be?I ran towards the tree. Two huge Jackfruits lay on the soil, crushed open by the fall from the top of the tree. On it lay, sucking the sweet juice, hundreds of butterflies. Butterflies so breath takingly beautiful that I almost gasped. Light yellow and brown, purple and black, orange and golden, reddish and black. A huge celebration was on with little birds and fruit flys joining in. Birds chirped loudly sitting on the branches….the kinds I had never seen before. I stood silently absorbing the gaity around. The tree looked a happy mother to them. The sight remains etched in my memory, as if it was only yesterday….

Mother Nature cares and bears fruits for everyone. We are just one set of her children. How easily we forget this….