“Bel gira hai shayad”, on hearing the sound and to my prediction, my mother ran out shouting followed by me. As I struggled to catch with her (you see post-delivery this is what happens!), the damage was done and we saw a fat lady in red suit running away with two ‘Bel Phal” that too large ones. By the time we both reached the gate, she had made to end of road and the gardeners and cleaners of the colony park hurriedly made their way to the work (which they were suppose to do) and looked away sheepishly as we could make out they had helped the ‘auntyji’ in plucking away those fruits. None of us had the energy to chase the auntyji. My mother vented out her anger on the rickshaw puller who stopped and asked if he can pluck the fruit though later she lamented as to why she scolded him when he genuinely asked for the fruit. This whole scene resulted in a quick phone call to my father by my mom asking him to come home early and pluck all the fruits; that she can no longer check on the ‘bel thieves’.
Well, the next morning, my father did pluck away those fruits but not all.
This tree is just outside our front wall and we didn’t grow it but it grew on its own though we nurtured it. I still can’t recall as to how long this tree has been there but yes it’s been there for quite a few years. Earlier my grandmother would keep small uneven brick pieces near the door and as soon as she will feel that someone is up to mischief, she will launch her ‘stone missile’ from the verandah itself without thinking as to where it will hit! By the time ‘that someone’ realizes what has happened, she used to be at the gate with the stick in hand and a volley of abuses will be hurled at him left, right, centre! And by any chance if anyone has managed to pluck the fruit, she used to ensure that it is back in house. We definitely miss her at these times.
When it fell down, my father made a brick pillar to support the tree so that it didn’t fall and to date it stands tall.
Bel-Phal is beneficial in various abdominal disorders and it stimulates the digestive system and especially in summers it is in too much demand. Each year we wait patiently for the fruits to grow and keep a mental track of all those people who come asking for the fruits once they are ripe. Also, we keep a tab as to when the fruit will fall down on its own as well. Amongst friends, it was always a joke that we should make our enemies stand under the tree and shake the tree so vigorously that the fruits will fall on their heads and it will be broken ;). Well, it never happened like that but it did fall on my head once when my father was standing on the wall with the stick trying to pluck the fruit and I was standing under the same fruit to catch it lest it falls down on the floor and breaks! (We had tested one catch earlier). The second catch failed and it straightaway hit me on head and went down in the drain. My head didn’t break though!
There was no apparent reason for me to write this but the struggle to save those fruits and again the hard work done to pluck those fruits safely made me wonder as to how much we are attached to the tree. It is a yearly ritual to see those fruits growing, asking our neighbors to lend us the big stool to pluck the fruits and then looking at the heap collected and distributing them. One of my father’s colleague will call him regularly asking for the fruit to make the medicine out of it for her diabetic husband. We drink the sherbet regularly.
After I moved to Bangalore, I miss out on all this fun. This year was different as I was here for the delivery and I am enjoying my stay watching over this tree and its fruits. I am hopeful that in coming years I can do so along with my grown up kiddo!
For all you fellow readers, enjoy reading, enjoy writing and don’t forget to drink the Bel-Sherbet, it is healthy…..till the next post.