Mango Summer

Let us keep going with the flash fiction for a bit, shall we? Another story in 600 words.

Sharada Kaku, as she is known in the neighbourhood, lives next door to us in one of those old whitewashed bungalows that always seem to have a veranda, a swing and a perfunctory mango tree. The mango tree has blossomed abundantly this year and the branches are bent with the tart bounty of green mangoes. We eye them greedily as we cycle past but as always, Kaku’s errand boy Ratan stands as a sentinel underneath the tree and glowers at us if we dare pick up even the orphaned and slightly bruised fruit on the ground nearby.

 Ratan takes his job very seriously – last week there was one of those sudden summer thunderstorms that brings the washing lines down and scatters dust, young boughs and loose tiles all over the place in a mighty fury. We huddled indoors waiting for the storm to pass but Ratan stayed by the tree on his rickety stool guarding the mangoes.

Sharada Kaku doesn’t like us children – she makes sure she tells us this whenever she spots us; this is funny because she lives alone in that huge house and has no one to talk to other than Ratan. She doesn’t go anywhere and she doesn’t invite people over. She has all the time in the world, if you ask me. She isn’t nice to Ratan either but he doesn’t mind. Ratan has taken to eating his lunch under the tree because the birds attack the fruit when he is away. Kaku and Ratan count the fruit every evening with much argument. Ratan’s indignant voice and Kaku’s annoyed tones waft over the humid evening breeze because they can never agree on a total.

Kaku has planned on harvesting every single mango from her tree this year. She is going to sell them to this person in Goa who will then export this fruit to far-off countries. Kaku is going to make so much money from this that next year she will have not one but two guards for her fruit trees. She will go on a vacation too – and Ratan will be in charge of the house when she goes away.

There is another storm predicted for today, a big one too. The winds are bringing down the power lines and leaving trails of dust along the windowsills. The raindrops are coming in plump and thick and the sky is sooty black. Kaku watch the storm from her window and Ratan from the garden – but they don’t budge. A bolt of lightning makes me jump and I run to the window to latch it shut when I notice Ratan dashing around their yard, picking up the mangoes that are falling to the ground even as a giant clap of thunder rolls nearby. Kaku is admonishing him that he is never vigilant enough.

 As I watch with mounting horror, a massive branch creaks and snaps and lands to the ground with an ominous thud, engulfing Ratan and his bounty. A muffled scream fills the air and Kaku opens the door and races to the spot even as Ratan’s shrieks from underneath the branches get more painful.

 The rain is now coming down in giant sheets and the neighbours are gathered around as someone calls for an ambulance. Kaku stands drenched to the bone, calling out for Ratan with a shrill urgency to her voice.  “He is going to be fine, the ambulance is on its way”, someone tells her.

“The mangoes”, Kaku screams, “Let me save them before the ambulance people try to steal them off me”.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Captain Nemo
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 15:45:21

    Aah… a la ‘The Selfish Giant’ but without the silver lining… Liked it.

    Reply

  2. Rajavel
    Apr 07, 2011 @ 17:49:45

    That looked some what hurried ! In conclusion at least ! Dunno ! Something amiss …

    Reply

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