It happened once to the Man from Madras Musings. He had parked his car and gone for a meeting. On returning he found a gaping hole in the windscreen and nestling in the driver’s seat was an unhusked coconut. A look upwards solved the mystery. A coconut tree that was leaning high above the car had given of its plenty. Back home MMM was told by his Good Lady, also known as She Who Must Be Obeyed that he ought to consider himself lucky for if it had hit him, MMM, instead of the car, it could have caused a nasty concussion. Bald men, said MMM’s Good Lady with a meaningful glance, were at greater risk.
Many years have since gone by and MMM is balder. You would not be wrong in saying he has balded. Which is why MMM considers himself at risk even from falling twigs. But it is now a neighbour’s mango tree that gives him the shivers. This being the season for the yellow fruit, this tree is heavy with it. And at all times of the day and night the fruit keeps falling. In the dead of night it sounds exactly like a canon ball landing in your vicinity and many a time MMM has woken up with his heart pounding. When overhanging boughs let loose their fruits on to MMM’s terrace the sound is exactly like the footsteps of a thickset burglar. During the day MMM has to walk in his garden with his head held high, chiefly to watch out for falling fruit.
Of course, MMM is in a minority when it comes to this tree. School children and quite a few adults passing by stop to aim at a mango or two with a pebble. They rarely manage to catch the fruit as it falls. Once it touches the ground the impact makes it into a pulpy mess but you should see the delight in the eyes of those who run and collect it nevertheless. Some enterprising adults climb on to MMM’s rooftop, dislodging several tiles in the process, to pluck some of the fruit. The expense involved in repairing the damage is of course not theirs. Squirrels love this tree and so do parakeets. Add a cuckoo or two, a couple of cats that are forever foraging for young birds and several crows and you have the complete menagerie.
Now why are the fruits not being plucked is what you want to know. MMM has made several representations to his neighbour but apparently you cannot find a professional fruit-picker for love or for money. The going rate, so MMM hears, is Rs 5 per mango plucked and even at that price there is no one willing to undertake the task. Gone are the days when these men, despite being “spiritually elevated and illuminated from the inside”, would think nothing of shinning up the tree and plucking the fruit for a small payment, which in turn was spent in more spiritual uplift. These hardy souls have either got on to the wagon en masse or are busy elsewhere. Hopefully they are not propping up the walls of the closest Tasmac. And so the fruits continue to fall. Thankfully none has made a landing on MMM, as yet. May be it is time for a mobile app that will automatically harvest the fruit. These days, apps appear to be the solution for anything and everything.