Memories Of Guavas …

I think Guavas are my favourite fruit. Huh? Ok, this is what any writer faces. Go straight into the narrative and the audience has no idea where the author is coming, or how they are coming, too. Go too slow, and you have a set of yawning readers. While i wouldnt want you yawning (except under a hangover, in which case too, i think a guava would be just right), a little bit of background may be required.

Travelling from Dehradun to Delhi, one would go to Haridwar. While a dip wasn’t really happening, given that there was very little water, as they were cleaning the Ghats, the guavas on the fruit-vendor’s cart seemed most inviting, and hence this. As a child i have found the guava to be one of my favourite fruits, along with the musk-melon … Kharbooza. Not just about any, but the kharboozas which used to come from Baghpat … Large, succulent, sweet … Sinful. Regrettably those aren’t to be found in the market during summers. Which is why i am thankful that the large, ripe (yellow in colour, not green), soft, sweet guavas are still available aplenty.

Now to the background …

As a child, i remember walks with my grandfather, to the fruit bazaar. Fruits, you see, were the invariable dessert of choice. Pity i didn’t inherit this, though i am discovering this trait post the blood-test, which had doomsayers predicting dire consequences from diabetes. I remember the way Dadaji used to look for fruit which was a little ruptured (kharboozas get ruptured as they ripen, which means that ruptured fruit is sweeter and more succulent, more often than not). Another way of finding, of course, is sniffing. A well-trained nose is almost an infallible way to find whether fruit would be sweet. Glad to believe i have inherited the nose.

Dadaji in his trademark shorts (this was the 80s, but Dadaji always rocked), t-shirt, and shoes, me holding his hand, or riding sitting on the cross-bar of the bicycle. Exhilarating! But getting back to the guavas, i dont think too highly of them. Huh? Somehow, Amrood sounds far more delicious. Of course, amrood used to coincide with gobhi-shalgam ka achaar, and the absence of ghia, tori, tinde, much to my relief. But thats not the reason i love the amrood.

Granted, i love amrood as a fruit. But more so because of memories. Memories of cold winter mornings sitting on the terrace, on the manji, amrood and mathematics. Now, i can imagine you trying to picture me part of a looney bin, but mathematics was actually my favourite subject, much to the detriment of my performance in other subjects. Preparing for IIT-JEE, the amrood was one of my companions. Especially because it was it was at times stolen (for no particular reason), and at times, was shared with Dadaji. This also gave me pictures of children in other, seemingly diverse parts of the country being hounded by their parents to study subjects which they found unsavoury, while being comforted by their grandparents with amrood. Now this might sound a little silly, but growing up in the 80s, one wasnt too aware of the way things are in other parts of the country, and i am not talking about general knowledge. So, somehow, we used to believe that boys from the southern, western, or eastern parts of the country (i am not going to talk about stereotypes … They have been long discarded, so maybe on another occasion, when i am writing something comical) were all good, hardworking, conscientious students, and that it was only boys from Delhi, Punjab, or Haryana who were the lafangas. After all, haven’t we all heard the refrain …

Padhoge, likhoge hoge kharaab,

kheloge, koodoge banoge nawab!

Experience hasnt really shaken this idea. But the primary reason is still Dadaji.

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