Under the Mango Tree

Nov 30, 2010

The thatched lean to roof shaded her from the evening sun. The farmhand had brought her some dried coconut leaves. Veena was badly in need of some new brooms. She cleaned the bits of leaves stuck to the blade with a clean knife. Occasionally, she raised her head and took a breath, wiping the sweat off her forehead with the end of her sari.

She had been charmed the first time she had seen the place, walking in as a new bride. The farm was near the offshoot of a river. A small slate-roofed house, this was to be her new home. There was a row of flowering plants in front of the house, and a vegetable garden on one side. After that there were plenty of mango, coconut, jackfruit and many more trees. She felt that she was in one of those villages depicted in movies.

But life was not so heavenly, as she was soon to discover. With cows and hens to look after and a house to maintain, she found that she had little time to call her own. Her mother-in-law had all the illness associated with old age, and a cranky temper to boot. She considered fault finding a privilege upon herself. However, Veena was used to this and seldom took it to heart.

Veena’s parents had died when she was quiet young, leaving her in care of the relatives. She had started working at the age of seven. And had never stopped since then. She was sent to school, though she was not really expected to learn. She did pass her 10th std exam much to everyone’s surprise. There her education ended and from then on she was permanently at home – cooking, cleaning etc, growing up she watched her cousins getting married off in style. Her marriage was never talked of, and by the time she was 26, she had decided that she would have to slave at her aunt’s house for the rest of her life, but fate had decided otherwise.

One day she was asked to get ready for someone who wanted to see her. Her aunt and uncle had not thought it necessary to tell her beforehand. Astonished, yet with irrepressible excitement, she dressed in her best sari, one her cousin had discarded. She wore a thin gold chain which once belonged to her mother. Ravi, an ordinary looking fellow had come with his mother but Veena was not complaining. After all, she was no great beauty herself. His mother looked her over and asked her a few questions. Once Ravi had caught her eye and smiled. That was enough for her to start dreaming. The next month she was in a bus, travelling to her new home.

That was five years ago, and now her days had amazing regularity. Taking care of the cows and hens, cooking, cleaning etc, her life was that of a farmer’s wife. She used to be free in the afternoons when her mother-in-law took a nap. She used this time to walk down the farm, carrying a basket to put in fruits and vegetables that she picked. Sometimes she went to wherever her husband would be. If he was alone she would spend a few minutes with him, undisturbed by anyone else. She enjoyed the stolen moments of joy.

When it was night she used to lie crying on her bed. Ravi’s face snuggling in her bosom, sometimes she felt pity. Sometimes she was filled with self-loathing. When did she begin to realize the truth about her husband? He was gentle, caring, and loved her with all his heart. He had rescued her from her slave-like existence at her aunt’s house, she would be forever grateful for that. It does not matter, she told him, but her sleepless nights might have told him otherwise.

One hot afternoon, she sat in the shade of the mango trees lazily, flipping through an old magazine. She heard footsteps and looked up. Ravi appeared with some ripe mangoes. “Your favourite,” he said simply and extended his hand. She watched the childlike pleasure in his face in being able to satisfy the simplest of her wishes. She smiled and invited him to rest for a while. The mangoes were kept aside as he lay on her lap and listened to her talk. She talked as she had never talked before - of her love for him and her happiness in his giving her a home and welcoming her into his heart. As she spoke, she held him in a deep embrace.

When the evening sun peeped in through the canopy of the trees, they were lying there next to each other, happy and content. There underneath the mango trees their hopes had been realized!

By Greshma Saldanha, Mumbai
Greshma Saldanha resides in Mumbai. She is 22 years old. Presently, she is pursuing her graduation in BSc. She loves to read and sometimes to pen down her thoughts, and also loves to travel.

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Comment on this article

  • Neville Coelho, Mumbai

    Sun, Dec 02 2012

    This story tickles the intricacies of a typical village life where people make the most of what life offers u ..... its so simple to be happy but so difficult to be simple .... and at the same time happy !

  • Asha nazareth, mumbai

    Wed, Dec 01 2010

    Indeed It's interesting article...I wish you all the best ..keep writting....

  • A.S.Mathew, U.S.A.

    Wed, Dec 01 2010

    Good story which kept the readers
    in a suspension, and with a great
    conclusion, closed in affection.
    Keep up the good work, by writing
    more such stories. Congratulations.

  • sriram, Padubidri / Chennai

    Wed, Dec 01 2010

    Really a Good One.

  • Muzaffar Ali, Manglore - Riyadh - KSA

    Wed, Dec 01 2010

    Good work, remembering past memories ..I wish you good luck in your future aricles.

  • Steffi Jenifer Quadras, Shirva

    Wed, Dec 01 2010

    nice article sis... all the wishes

  • Greshma, Mumbai

    Tue, Nov 30 2010

    Hi, i feel happy with all the appreciation nd best wishes. Thank u all for ur support nd valuable feedback.

  • Lesly M, Udyavar

    Tue, Nov 30 2010

    Nice article Greshma. It tells us about the hidden pain in each ones life. This article is a lesson to share each ones thought, because my friends always say Sharing is joy.

  • Wilfy (joyal), Bahrain, Shirva

    Tue, Nov 30 2010

    Nice one sister creative & cute article, many thanks & all the best for writing.

  • Pamy Nelson Saldanha, shirva -dubai

    Tue, Nov 30 2010

    Dear Greeshma,

    Keep up the good work. nice article.

  • irwin, mangalore

    Tue, Nov 30 2010

    nice one dr........

  • Max & Jessie RasquinhaM, Mangalore/Houston, Texas

    Tue, Nov 30 2010

    Congratulations, dear Greshma. Good message well articulated. Great beginning. Keep up the good work and wish you continued success in all your future initiatives.

  • Rohan, Mangalore

    Tue, Nov 30 2010

    Well written and very creative.Writer has a very good sense of reflection.

  • vinod wilfred tauro, MADANTHYAR, DUBAI

    Mon, Nov 29 2010

    Good article, remembering olden days..I wish you good luck in your future aricles.

  • Simon Dsouza, Shirva/Doha Qatar

    Mon, Nov 29 2010

    Nice One Greshma, Keep going, wish you all the very best

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