In memory of a mango tree

My entire family is crammed under my and my sister’s double-sized bed. There are five of us – my parents, who are in their late 30s. I’m 10. And my brother and sister are eight and seven.

We have dragged blankets and pillows with us so we can get as comfortable as possible on the concrete floor. This might seem like it was an indoor-camping adventure, except that it wasn’t.

Outside the gale-force winds are howling and whirling at unfathomable speeds. Inside we’re chanting:

Hare Rama
Hare Rama
Rama Rama
Hare Hare
Hare Krishna
Hare Krishna
Krishna Krishna
Hare Hare

This mantra we repeat at the top of our lungs, hoping that God will hear us over nature’s tantrum and save us.

After what seems like hours, but in actuality is minutes, the winds die down, and we crawl out to assess the aftermath.

We discover that the source of many juicy moments that salivated our mouths and dribbled down our chins has fallen – split lengthways into two, one half landing in the front of the bedroom we were in, and the other behind it.

Our home’s landmark, which is at least 100 years old, had survived Oscar a couple of years earlier, but couldn’t weather the double whammy of Eric and Nigel.

We stand in the eerie silence, stunned by too many realisations.

No more climbing her thick trunk, which took three of us kids’ arm span to hug her entire circumference. No more sitting on her sturdy branches, sinking our teeth into her ripe, thirst-quenching gifts. No more tangy mango pickles from home-grown produce.

My father had built his boat with his bare hands under the expansive shade of that tree.

It was the death of a family member.

Perhaps she heard us chanting? And split herself into two so we could live?

Under the tree. Prepping mangoes for pickles. I’m on the right, with a conscious-the-camera-is-on-me smile.
Our basic tin home. You can just see a smidgen of the tree on the top right, full of fruit.

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