There I was, sitting under the Mango tree planted in the front yard of my home. My track pant was smudged with earth along with my T-shirt as if I had been rolling around in the mud but I couldn’t care less. I used to live in one of those big government quarters provided by the Indian Railways to its employees. Mine had a few trees in the front yard, enclosed inside the boundary made by the thick Iron wire fence. It was the time of summer holidays, a time when I could ignore the massive amount of homework that had been given to us by our sadistic teachers (Pun intended) and quite simply spent my day loitering around in my front yard or if it was too hot outside, playing video games or watching movies on repeat from the collection of movies I collected over time in the form of CDs. DVD players were still new in the market at that time and used to cost a lot, we had a CD player which we never upgraded.
I sat there and I noticed a mango hanging from a branch. There were many mangos on the tree, it being the start of summer, but this one was ripe and yellow as opposed to all the other green ones and was somehow unscathed from the taste buds of parrots and other birds. I kept gazing at it for a few seconds. It was quite high and I was never a good climber. I gave sweeping look to the branches that were closest to the ground but there were no ripe mangos there. The rarity of this one mango fathered the desire to possess and eat it. The knowledge that fruits, especially from this tree, being delicious intensified the desire even more. I had to eat it!
Therefore, to achieve this I started formulating ways with which I can get it. I picked up a stone and threw it at the mango. It narrowly missed. However, after one throw I immediately abandoned this method. What will happen the stone successfully hit the mango? The mango being ripe with undoubtedly be scarred and there are chances it will not break away from the branch. The sight of the fruit was so mouth-watering and elating that I did not want even a small dent on its surface. I wanted to pluck it, admire it, delicately peel and slice it, piece by piece and eat it, not wasting even a drop of its juice. I had to find some other method to get it before any bird does.
I picked up a stick that I found lying near the tree and tried to swing it in such a way that it strikes the stalk but not the mango. No luck! There were too many branches in the middle to maneuver the stick with the requisite angle and force. I threw the stick on the ground and stood there gazing at the fruit for a few moments trying to conjure up any other idea for getting that fruit out of that branch and into my hands. Nothing came to my mind except a big blank. The only thing my brain kept getting back to was trying to climb the tree. Now the people who know how to climb a tree know that climbing up is not the hard part, it is climbing down that is difficult. Devoid of any other option, I tried climbing the tree. It was hopeless; I kept skidding down.
Defeated, I thought of giving it one last try, gathered my energy and tried again. This time I went farther than any time I tried before. But SMACK! The fall was equally hard. Although it was not as high as to have done any serious damage, I landed directly on my left foot. A pain shot through from my leg. I had sprained my ankle! Dreading the cussing and scolding that was to come I slowly limped on one leg towards the door to the Drawing room of my home. With a thumping heart, I opened the door. My mother was sitting there watching some dumb Indian Soap opera with an hour episode consisting of at least 20 minutes of moving close up shots of the actors and 15 minutes of advertisements. She did not notice me limping through the door. I saw that she was engrossed in watching T.V. and so I decided to limp silently to the bedroom before she notices. To muffle the sound of my limping I stepped onto the carpet. Whenever any background music came onto the soap opera, which was plenty of times actually, I used it to limp towards the bedroom door.
I finally reached the door. Taking a huge sigh of relief I leaned on the door without realizing that doorstopper was not in place. CRASH! The door banged on the wall and I was on all fours on the ground. It was seconds before my mother came running inside and looking at me spread-eagled on the ground, her first reaction was narrowing her eyes with malice.
“Oh crap” I thought, as I knew what was about to come.
Before I knew it I was being helped up on my feet with the shrill scolding of how she cannot even sit calmly and idly even for a minute. She did not know that I sprained my ankle. And she can never know that I did that trying to climb the Mango tree outside. Taking a small loss for a short time is better than a big loss for a longer duration. So when she enquiringly looked at my leg while I stood there limping on my right leg, I told her that I put my right leg on the door to fold up my track pant bottoms and I did not realize the door stopper was not in place which crashed the door and I fell and sprained my left ankle.
I know right! What a pitiful excuse and she suspected it for some time but as she did not hear me limping back inside and there was nothing else in the bedroom which might indicate otherwise, she accepted my dumb excuse.
So for a few minutes, I got to hear the usual cussing and fussing while my foot was been treated to a bucketful of hot and salty water. But I was not paying attention. My falling and then my mother helping me up with her hand and me standing on one leg clutching her shoulder gave me an excellent idea!
After a whole day and a whole night’s rest, I started feeling a little better. The pain in my ankle was subsiding. After waking up the next day, I decided to test my idea. So I waited till noontime and then I silently went back outside with a plier, duct tape and thread. I reached the tree whereby I had dropped the stick and praying that no bird had eaten the fruit, I looked in the direction of the mango. It was still there – unscathed and uneaten. Relieved, I picked up the stick and started walking towards the fence.
I found and cut a small part of the thick iron wire jutting out of the fence, the removal of which will not cause any damage to the fence (there were many such places on the boundary). I took out the duct tape and tied the wire to the stick. For double precaution that it should not slip out, I left a small part of the exposed at the tied end and tightly tied that part to the stick using the thread applying three-four knots. I then used the pliers and started bending the free end of the wire attached to the stick in the form of a hook.
I took the stick to the tree. Maneuvering the stick, I placed the hooked end of the wire around the stalk of the mango and pulled. With a plucking sound, the mango dropped and I caught it. I placed the stick near the tree and feeling elated, I went back inside with the mango in my hand.