Is there any Marathi manoos who has not loved his mango tree? As for me, there are many memories of this tree. As a school boy we hurled stones at this tree to fell raw mangoes. Fruits taste wonderful when they are taken away from another man’s garden as if it was your birth right. You lose this worldview as you grow up and succumb to the pressures of the grown up men’s world.
There was, nay there is [it is still there, why use past tense?], a mango tree in the Asian Paints factory at Bhandup in Mumbai. If you are travelling on LBS Marg, you will see it unfortunately sandwiched between two three storey buildings. When I joined this company in 1975, both the buildings existed sans floors 1 to 3. And there was a big lush green well maintained lawn in between them. This mango tree used to look very majestic then, not like ‘a student punished to stand outside classroom’ as it does today.
I was returning from canteen with my then boss, Ajit Thakker. That was my very first day in Asian Paints. Boss noticed that three or four young workers had climbed up the tree and were plucking mangoes. I thought that a stern disciplinary action will follow. But I was in for a big surprise. Ajit Thakker walked over to the tree and said, “Don’t get down! Let me take a photograph. I want to show this to your family – let them see what their dad does in the factory.” I have never seen anybody climbing that tree again!
A year ago or so, this tree lost its friends and admirers. Yes, the factory is closed forever.
Vivek S Patwardhan
[pic shows male and female flowers of mango. My pictures. Please do not use pictures without permission. ©]