Thursday, July 23, 2015

Jackfruits and Empathy

My friend Deepak Amembal is very lucky in one respect. He travels widely to various far flung places in India on his Royal Enfield bike, and gets to taste local delicacies.

When he stays put in Mumbai, the goodies from all over the country, somehow reach him. It is not as if you do not get them in Mumbai. But things from home taste different.

Like this jack fruit. Growing during its lifetime as a huge amorphous green thorny mass, oddly hanging onto its mother tree, it comes into its own , when it is cut, peeled, and little golden pieces with individual seeds are harvested from it .

A special Konkan product, a  product of the coastal area , which has seen unseasonal rains and widespread destruction of crop this year.  And like the people of Kokan, tough outside, but with a heart of gold .....

A capture of such a heart by Deepak Amembal....

उच्चपदस्थ , सनातनी
काटेरी कोकणी वल्ली ,
वयात येउन सुद्धा

मातुल वृक्षास घट्ट पकडून
जगातील ये जा
हिरवी सृष्टी ,
आणि पावसाचा हैदोस बघत
संथ पणे आयुष्य घालवतो .

कोकणी माणसा सारखाच
हा बाहेरून कडक माणूस
आतून खूप मउ असतो,
आणि सर्व आम्बालोकाची दुर्दशा
बघतो आणि हळ्हळ्तो .

अवेळी पाउस ,
वाहून गेलेली झाडे,
वार्यांनी पाडलेले वृक्ष ,
आणि अनाथ झालेली फळे.

कधीतरी मुंबईची मंडळी ,
कौतुकाने हाताला तेल लाउन
ह्या कडक व्यक्तीच्या मनात खोलात बघतात ,
वरवरची आवरण बाजूला करतात ,
"अगोबाई, छान 'कापा' निघाला की …."
अस म्हणतात,
आणि ह्या कडक फणसाच्या
अंतरंगातून ,
डोळे भरून चकाकणारे गरे
एक एक करून बाहेर निघतात

This Kokani personage,
highly placed ,
traditionally conservative,
tough and thorny
in attitude and looks,
still Oedipusly clings
to branches
of the Mother tree
observing calmly
the world go by,
amidst a monsoon storm
playing havoc around it.

But like most folks from Kokan,
this hardliner
is actually a softie inside,
and holds back tears
as he thinks
of the mango orchards
devastated by unseasonal rain.

Now in Mumbai,
he submits
to the traditional
plucking and cleaning
by hands smeared with oil.

They unravel and peel,
and look deep into his
troubled mind,
at the discovery
of al dente fruit inside.

It is just
that every single piece
of the  golden fruit
shines bright
like eyes
brimming with unshed tears.

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