Memories on Trees: Guava

The trouble with staying in housing colonies of Tatas is that some obvious things just do not strike you. You are laughed at by people or they consider you very snobbish. With a good garden around my home, bungalow to be precise, and with Papaya and Peru trees planted at the fence, you never buy a papaya or a Peru. Peru? Yes, a guava. When we moved out, it suddenly struck me that I have to buy papaya and guavas. It felt strange to buy those fruits.

Then I met Mr DG Gokhale who was a Civil Contractor. He had a 50 acre farm near Karjat. He had planted at least ten different varieties of Guava! For me it was a treat. I see car owners stopping on the highway when travelling to Mumbai from Pune to buy fruits. Some prefer the ‘Lal Peru.’ But it is singularly tasteless.

The guava should never be bought. It should ideally be stolen from a neighbour’s garden. As a young boy I followed this insight till I saw a green thing moving on the tree. It was a green snake! It is called ‘Harantol’ in Marathi. The Green Vine snake! My ‘well-informed’ friends had told me that the green snake jumps long distance, and that if a Harantol licks your scalp, you die instantly.

My father told me not to believe my friends, and that the snake was non-poisonous. I should not be afraid of a Harantol, it was harmless. He was telling a scientific fact to his son who was like a scared chicken!

Fear and reason are like snake and mongoose! What say you?
Vivek S Patwardhan

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