In the fruit market, my father
checks a mango for the peak of its ripeness
orange leathery skin and an ever so slight wrinkle.
It fills his palm with sweet aroma.
He picks the best and makes a pile, and
brings home a crateful, proud of his skill.
We watch with anticipation swelling,
but my mother says “patience is a virtue.”
So we wait while the morning turns into a flaming noon.
I set out to pulp a dozen. It’s a messy job, a girl’s job.
I pick a mango, sniff it, squeeze it, and roll it under my palm.
The long oblong seed turns under the gentle pressure until
the firmness surrenders. A small victory for my young palm!
Now, it’s blown up like a water balloon. I make a hurling motion,
my brother ducks and my mother’s eyes
silently pierce my laugh.
Just when it’s ready to pop I snap off the stalk.
Orange bliss flows into the bowl, seed and all.
So it goes until there is a pile of skin and seeds by
my side and the coveted pot of orange pulp in front.
My brother watches from the lattice of the kitchen window.
“Patience,” my mother repeats, “until my puris are ready.”
Aamrus and Puri, Sunday brunch with the family and friends.
Laughs and squeals, orange stains on my brother’s shirt,
stories of bargains and my mother’s face waiting patiently
for us to conclude our meals, so finally, she too could eat.
Notes: Flavored Aamrus (Mango Pulp) is a popular desert in parts of India such as Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. It is eaten with freshly fried puris. Puri is the puffed bread.