Melissa Nazareth writes from her shores in Bombay to ours in Bahrain.
“There are hardly any nice mangos in the shops this year,” said my mum. “Perhaps, we didn’t have a good harvest.”
“These mangos are nothing,” said my dad. “When we were young, there was a small-sized breed of mango that grew on the tree in our front yard. Every summer, all the children in our neighbourhood gathered under the tree to pick some. We wiped the fruit with our fingers, as if we were polishing a cricket ball and bit off the part where the stem is attached. Then we sucked the seed out and took our own sweet (pun intended) time chewing on the pulp. In the end, we spat out the seed and enjoyed the juicy skin.”
Listening to my dad narrate this childhood experience made my mouth water. “I can almost taste those mangos,” I told him, enviously. Smiling, he replied, “You will never know what they tasted like. Kids these days will never know that life.”
Growing up in a small village in the South of India, my dad enjoyed a childhood that I could only dream of. Back then, there were no gadgets and children spent most of their time outdoors, surrounded by nature. My dad grew up chasing dragonflies, milking cows and running barefoot on the ghats. There were a few hurdles too like he had to walk for miles just to get to school and was raised on a humble diet of rice soup and chickpeas. Despite the challenges, he claims those were the best days of his life.
I’ve enjoyed many heartwarming moments thanks to such precious yesteryear stories. As children, my cousins and I gathered at our family home during the summer holidays, eager to explore the tale trove.
My paternal grandmother once shared how a kind lady had given them some rice to eat when there wasn’t a grain left in the house. My grandmother is one of the most generous people I know and, according to her, this and other similar experiences were instrumental in teaching her to always pay it forward.
My maternal grandmother narrated a funny story about how her mother was apprehensive to send her teenaged daughters to Mumbai in search of a job. In order to keep them safe, she told them that if they would talk to a boy, they would get pregnant! “I was so afraid,” said my wide-eyed grandmother, partly chuckling, “that whenever I saw a boy coming towards me, I would run in the opposite direction.”
Life’s too short to learn from our own mistakes. Sharing our experiences with our children is a fun way to teach them valuable life lessons.
So, the next time you’re having a family dinner, ditch the idiot box and spin the yarn! Your kids will surely thank you for it someday