A basket of mangoes was waiting at my door as I rushed back with all the groceries on 23rd of March 2020. An unforgettable day in the history of mankind and my country. We as a human race are going through a pandemic called the COVID -19. Our country was going to shut down for 21 days starting tomorrow. A pandemic of such proportions which many generations had not seen or heard is what we were facing. All of us at home looked gloomy. My husband helped me lug the luggage in, and the basket of mangoes went in too. I stocked up the provisions near the bedroom and got busy getting dinner ready.
Life changed suddenly without any warning. Every person I know in my community seemed to be a vector. How will I protect my children ? Do I have it already ? Will we as a human race survive this? What about my parents who lived in another state ? Will my friends be ok ? So many questions clouded my head. I would wake up in the morning reading the world news, and humans vanishing in thousands every day. No cure. No vaccine yet. Looking at my children everyday and imagining what their future would hold made me freeze wherever I stood. I called my mom several times a day not able to express my fears, and found a mild solace in hearing her voice. In one such conversation she reminded me of a story I knew all along. A story which puts things into perspective.
The story in gist. Yudhistra the wisest of the five brothers in Mahabharata is facing a Yaksha who had taken the life of his four valiant brothers. Yaksha promises to bring them back to life if Yudhisthira answers all the questions the Yaksha was about to ask correctly. A very philosophical and profound dialogue goes on between the two, and Yudishtra emerges the winner saving his brothers.
Among other questions, one that stuck me the most was the one below.
Yaksha: What is the greatest wonder?
Yudhishthira: Day after day, countless creatures travel to the abode of death, yet those that remain have a desire to be immortal. What can be a greater wonder than that?
The answer so well thought out still stands correct. The wonder that we are humans live yet another day desiring to be immortal with the weapon called “HOPE”. Hope so strong we refuse to give up till we are certified dead. This story brought a smile on my face as she narrated it in all her wittiness, and put my life to perspective again.
Next day morning I looked at the news as always, read about all the countries I could remember. Accepted the news as it was and got out of bed. As I walked past the door with this new pill of hope after seven days of dull miserable self, I smell something very sweet, a familiar smell of ripened mangoes. I saw the basket of Mangoes which was stashed with other pulses. Remembered seeing it at the door and not remembering anything more about it. I quickly picked up the basket and went to the kitchen. Opened up the box and pulled out the mangoes wondering where it was from, and was it really meant for me. As I emptied the basket I saw a small scribbled note crushed and crumpled which read -” Had to send this to you the first batch from my farm before the place shuts down. Will meet you after lockdown. Take care – Sangeetha.” All I could read in between the lines was her promise for the future day where life was better for everyone. I Picked up the phone and called her immediately. Me and Sangeetha chatted for almost an hour. She was safe back in her village with her parents. Aspiring for a better tomorrow and deciding to live today to the fullest, I stacked the not-so-ripe mangoes at the bottom and layered it with the ripe ones. Lunch today is Mampaza Pulisherry and papadam. My family loves it and I love them.
Here is the Mampaza Pulisherry OR Mampaza Kutan or Mango curry recipe.