My earliest memory of eating mangoes is that of a bunch of us kids in our underwear, standing in our grandparents' backyard, eating slices of mangoes, while the juice ran down our chins and arms.
Fast forward to my teens. I had braces on my teeth. It wasn't, to put it mildly, easy to clean the mango fibres stuck in my braces, and so mangoes had started irritating me. Besides, there was one time when I ate a mango with the elastic bands (of the braces) on, and the off-white bands got stained yellow, and became bloated. I was so repulsed by the sight of them that I swore off mangoes forever.
My terrible vow became a matter of great consternation for my family, especially for my mother. She couldn't get even a piece of mango down her throat when I was around, because she felt guilty for eating such a delicious fruit "without giving it to me." Mothers!
Fast forward to my first year of marriage. My Father-in-law enjoyed buying the best fruits, cutting them neatly, and putting the pieces into bowls for everyone in the family. I liked that. Who wouldn't, being handed delicious fruits - ready to eat - on a platter?
Then the mango season arrived, and my Father-in-law bought the first few mangoes home, cut them up and handed all of us bowls of mangoes.
"Ah no," I was about to say. "I don't like mangoes."
But then something happened. I looked at the bowl. I looked at the mango. I don't know what it was - was it that I was hungry? Was it that my body was craving sugar at that time? Was it that my subconscious finally got rid of the yuck-factor of the bloated yellow elastic bands from my memory?
I don't know. And frankly, I don't care. For I picked up a piece and put it into my mouth. Squish - went the fruit. Squirt - went the juice. And I chewed and I closed my eyes while I went to heaven.
It was like I was tasting a mango for the first time. I ate another piece, and then another, and before I knew it, my bowl was empty.
I sat there, with just one thought running through my head - "Excuse me, what just happened here?"
"Oh, I can see you like mangoes," said my mother-in-law, smiling.
I came out of my trance, looked at her, and took a deep breath.
"Yes," I said. "I love mangoes."(Written for the Tulika Summer Blogathon)