The Mango Tree

” So, tatha, what have you planned to gift me on my 8th birthday? Little Ramya squeaked while sucking the last bit of pulp from her mango seed. Her sticky palms exuded the ambrosial flavour. She was at her paternal grandparents’ house to spend her summer vacation. Located in a serene place in the outskirts of Trivandrum, it was a perfect holiday home.

 Mr. Mani, a tall well-built septuagenarian kept his newspaper and reading glasses down and beckons his grand-daughter to come near him. Ramya hopped towards him with exuberance. “I have something special for you.Wash your hands and the mango seed. Ask tathi to keep my gardening tools ready.”  Nodding her head obediently, Ramya ran towards the kitchen. Mr Manikanthan Iyer was a retired Scientist from a reputed Pharmaceutical company. Post-retirement, he bid adieu to the busy urban lifestyle and nestled down with his beloved wife Radhika in their ancestral house. He took up gardening as a hobby and was  proud of his orchard, that embellished their backyard. His son Ravi and daughter-in-law, Malti were settled in Mumbai. Ramya was their only daughter and enjoyed spending her vacations in the company of her grandparents.

” Tatha, the tools are ready.” Radhika called out her husband. Taking charge of the tools, Mani instructed Ramya to follow him to the backyard. His orchard had a good mix of trees. One for every season. He digs a pit  with a spade and sows the mango seed deep inside the soil. ” What are we doing tatha”? Inquired Ramya “Well!you wanted a gift? Am gifting you a memory”. She gave him an amused look. Gauging her confusion he replied back,” Tatha won’t be always around, my child. But this seed will grow into a tree, bearing sweet mangoes. So, when you will grow older and miss my presence, you just have to come and meet me here.The tree will make you remember the time we spent together.” Ramya smiled back listening intently.

With passing years, Ramya gets busy with her studies, making it difficult for her to spend time with her grandparents. Initially, she would call them up on weekends, which later dropped to once a month and then finally got restricted to festivities.

Mr. Mani’s memory weakens with age. His wife Radhika continues taking care of him. One fine morning, she gives her son a call informing him about his father’s debilitating health. The entire family decides to visit him. Grandpa welcomes them with an emotionless look. He could no longer recognize anyone. “Just intermittent flashes of memories.” Radhika explained in dismay.

Ramya’s eyes start to well up as she ran towards the backyard. It was painful to see him helpless. Clinging to a tree she cried inconsolably. A while after, she felt a warm frail hand over her shoulders. “Kondein you are home. The seed is now a tree, Look!” Exclaimed grandpa pointing towards the trunk she was leaning on to. The tree witnesses their reunion that day.

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Glossary:
1. Tatha : Grandpa (Tamil)
2. Tathi: Grandma(Tamil)
3. Kondein: Sweet child(Tamil)
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