Mangoes, Overripe.

Chennai, India. 1998.

The family crowds around the scrumptious feast on the living room floor. It is June; outside, the sun shines down upon the city of Madras unforgivingly. Crows screech, dogs nap in the shade, and over-ripe mangoes hang limply from the trees.

Grandma carries the plate of applams, hot off the stove, and sets them down beside the other dishes – white rice, sambhar, potatoes, poriyal, rasam, curd, chicken curry, and mangoes plucked from the tree in the backyard, cut open and ready-to-eat. I’m seated next to my little brother, and our mother admonishes us over our greedy attempts to grab the mangoes before lunch has commenced. Our father and his brother join us on the floor. Meanwhile, Thatha, our beloved grandfather, is the only one who gets to sit in an armchair. A Rajnikanth movie begins on Sun TV and the Sunday feast commences.

If only such moments could be frozen in time, tucked away safely, and brought out during precarious times, as if to tell people: “This is what you stand to lose.” This is what you stand to lose by means of your harsh words, and your ridiculous ability to remember the bad and forget the good.

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