Amongst all that, what really almost always comes back to me is during summer, after dinner, we’d sit on the balcony of our house, listening to old tunes on the radio, our dog by our side and our father would cut juicy mangoes for us. For my father it was a sacred ritual and over the years he’d mastered the art of cutting mangoes. There was a method to it and he’d never deviate from it, come what may. Looking back it was amusing, but then knowing my father, that’s the way he was. He’d give his complete 100% to the job on hand. He’d sit on the same chair, with the same plate and knife. Complete attention would be lavished on it. The mango would be cut in the same way. First four slices to the pulp, and then one clean slice to loosen the flesh. Then the long strips would be cut into perfect symmetrical cubes, not too big, nor too small, just perfect. The greatest reward for him would be when the plate was wiped clean of all the mango pieces. He’d then go to bed a happy man.
Nobody could talk anything to him while he cut his mangoes, because he’d be on it completely. So engrossed would he be that the edge of his tongue would stick out of one corner of his mouth while he was cutting his mangoes and it’d remain there till finished his job. It was an imprinted image!
My brother recently visited us from the US. And last night my father as usual ensured everybody got to eat his perfectly cut mangoes. My nephew, my brother’s little one looked at the mango pieces and remarked to my father, ‘Thatha you cut the mango just like my father does!’ I swear my father’s chest swelled with pride. It was like he’d finally passed a major exam! Like he’d personally taught my brother how to repair a broken down car in the middle of a desert and got it running!
Watching this exchange, I couldn’t help but think. Such a small seemingly insignificant thing, like cutting a mango, but here was a ritual that became a tradition!
It’s these small things that you remember and pass on without even realising what an embedded part it is of yourself!
I swear the mango tasted sweeter yesterday than it ever had before!