The Guava Brigade

When our large-guava tree was fruiting last month, we had a procession of small (and not-so-small) boys and girls from Thekambattu and Valagapattu, coming here “to see us”, to ask for medicine for coughs and colds for themselves, for their grandmothers… And going away with guavas.

Soon enough, they started coming not to see us, but unabashedly for guavas. Govindraj, Terthan’s son, was one of the regular visitors over many weeks. It was he who started gifting us other fruit, very sweetly. He would give us a nellikai and then nudge the others with him to do likewise: And we would have a handful of nellikais. Another day it was vilampazham (wood-apple). Another day, sugar-cane. It was all very sweetly done, and we accepted what was brought; and yet did not deny guavas to those who came empty-handed (but with large smiles always)

One day Govindraj and two of his cronies showed up with an orange each. I said “Thank you”, and then they started producing more and more from various pockets; tied-up parts of their shirts, from inside their shorts… All told, there were an amazing 24 oranges. To my eternal regret, I wasn’t quick enough on the ball to video this amazing display of conjuring.

But now I was alarmed. I was quite sure that they had stolen these from someone else to barter for guavas. So I asked for Chapter and Verse. Govindraj told me that it was from his Athai’s kaadu. And then I asked if it was with her permission that he has brought them for us and he smiled a yes. I said that I would thank his Mama when I met him next: would that be OK? And when he said “Yes”, I accepted the gift and distributed guavas to the three. And insisted that they do not get carried away next time. One or two is enough for us…

We must have distributed of the order of 400 guavas in that month. And soon enough we had to evolve a system so that the tree didn’t break under the weight of the “monkeys”; and that everyone who came by got guavas; that incredibly raw guavas were not plucked before their time; that there was no monopoly operating…

Here is a blurred picture (taken by yours truly: I usually leave the picture-taking to my betters, but…) which really captures the joy of guavas for the kids:

guavaboys

We had systems in place where one boy or girl would actually pluck the guava and we would do the distribution: One guava in everyone’s hand. All these systems were “broken” at some time or other. Here is a picture of a boy, who once did the gathering and distribution who, certainly, has only one guava in his hand. But look at his bulging cheek 🙂

guavathief

The fame of this harvest spread far and wide, and one day Meenakshiamma came by, and asked if the tree could be bought for the season by some friend of theirs near Salem. I refused this offer politely. But we acquired the Pumpkin she brought for us as a Pongal gift. Our guava tree really did give a bountiful harvest this season:

Harvest from our guava tree

Harvest from our guava tree, arranged and photographed by Varun

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One Response to “The Guava Brigade”

  1. Thekambattu thoddara kadhai | Thekambattu Says:

    […] « The Guava Brigade […]

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