Bashyam Narayanan


Mango Thieves


Mango thieves

Ancestral home, not so big
To accommodate all of us
We were kids numbering thirteen
The youngest one at three and
The eldest at twenty four
It was all fun, plays and teases
Summer holidays, also mango season
Mangoes were bought not in kilos
But in bulk and stored in a rice drum
The drum was of three feet tall
And some of us could not even peep into
But many managed to jump into
For stealthily grabbing mangoes
Some little ones were caught
While they were enjoying the mango
Within the drum itself
Some elders of my sort were
Tall enough to get hold of the mango
Leaping over the rim of the drum
And to climb onto the ever-in-darkness loft
Just above the drum
I used to sit quietly on the loft
Deep inside so that none could locate me
It used to bite the mango carefully
And tactfully manage so that
Not a drop of juice fell on the loft floor
The taste of mango enhanced with each bite
And with the understanding that
Someone below did not notice me
The mango seed was scratched
To the extent that there were no remnants
Of the pulp left on the surface of the seed
The seed would become white with each
Brushing by the teeth
I could often see its white surface
Even in that darkness
The palm and fingers were sulked
To the extent that the hand turned clean
With no signs of its handling
A skin-pealed mango
By any chance if I located
Someone else also sitting on the loft
On a similar mission
I preferred not to take note of him or her
I kep myself focused on my
Self-imposed task of mango stealing
A good Samaritan among us
Would take up cleaning of the loft
At the end of the summer vacation
And come out to declare as to
How many mangoes were eaten
In silence and in darkness
By counting the clean shaven white dry mango seed
Strewn over there in the loft
And on no occasion
Elders could catch us,
The mango thieves

Submitted: Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Edited: Wednesday, June 12, 2013

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