A Basket Full Of Mangoes

-Subhadeep Ghosal

The corridor of the surgical ward has only window
Its broken hinges rattle when the winds blow

I walk to the window to put the clangs on latch

I am hit by the dust of a stormy dispatch

A mango tree sways as the wind croon

The leaves wave on the beat of a whistling tune

It lures me down the memory stream

My forehead wrinkle wanes in a broad grinned beam

Ripe green mangoes peep and stretch to touch the ground
I jump but the mangoes are beyond my bound

I hurl a stone and break the barriers

And engulf them again in plastic carriers

Footstep and abuses trace my existence

I run and run to reach the fence

An old man came running like insane

Gripping in clench a broad rimmed cane

I jump over the fence and vanish beyond the ledge

“I will get you the next day.” he would pledge

For years I plucked the pieces of joy from the clutch of time

And escaped amid unsuccessful canes and abusive chime

Today the cane have rusted with age

Lost its shine and lost its rage

Its narrow edges are now blunt

By the curse of time it bears the brunt
With the rays of nostalgia my face gleam
A shrill voice broke me from my dream

That voice escorted me and my fears into a cabin

The stinking smell of medicines got under my skin

My vision meets the call of few feeble fingers

And eyes where hope waned but moisture lingers

An old man and some nostalgia lay on the bed
“They guarantee me relief but not a tomorrow” He said

“You are not my heir, not friend not foe

You may wonder why I called you so

I call you to ponder on old days

Those annoying unending summer holidays

Every single day I hid behind a bush

Waiting for you to walk into an ambush

And you did come again to the mango farm

Yet you escaped without any harm

Some said I must have been really insane

To let go a thief who returns again and again

I had a delusion when I see you run?
You ran with the same gait as my son

I recall the days when I ran after my mischievous lad
He would turn back to scorn “Catch me if you can dad!”

When you turn back for the sneer
I see my son standing right there

I pick up a pebble to at hurl at you

I drop it again when I find my son in view
He left saying that the other side was greener
Indeed it wasFor he did not return any sooner

I had accustomed myself to loneliness

But you came to my life and made it a mess

I wish you had the mangoes for free

But you traded them for a bag full of memory

Memories of a person I have long lost

I was hell bound to forget him at any cost

But you walked his walk and smiled his smile

Since I cannot hate him, I hated you all the while

I decided to raise the fence

But I was left with little pence

And when I wrote to him for funds

He returned a letter filled with grunts

The denial shook my heart to the core

Guarding my honour I wrote to him no more

He won’t come but his letters would seldom appear

In them he wrote ‘the road back home is too dear’

As a kid he would ogle at half ripe mangoes

And wait for them to ripe crouching on his toes

Now that he is gone too far away

You deemed the mangoes under your sway

Stealing mangoes is no big offence

But you bought his memories over the fence

I get furious when you stare at the ripen yield

You look like him when you amble along the field
Yet my hands refuse to pick up stones
For I see his skin on your tiny bones

Then one summer my fury had stopped to burn

As you grew up a man and went far to earn

Anger had left me but relief was not at all in store

Sorrow crept into the hollow without knocking the door

I realised that your absence was tearing me apart

My anger was merely a pretext woven by my heart

You gave purpose to this heart drowning deep in pain

I realize it gave me pleasure to run after you in vain

Now that you are gone my life seems hollow

A mere existence waiting for death to follow

And yes! I know that death is very near

But I am glad I would die without fear

My son has come back home traversing long without a fret

Because a lonely father is a liability but a dying one is an asset

The mango firm will now belong to him
Then why do I feel so utterly grim?

I thought about it hard and I know why.

Because I am incomplete until I bid you ‘bye’

There is a basket full of mangoes lying idle in the farm

Go quietly at the night so that it causes no alarm

Take them with you before he snatches it all

Take them with you before death befall

Having spoken so the man wore a smile

I was anxious when he kept the smile for a while
I realised that he moved no more
That was the last smile he ever wore

That night a force drove me to that farm again

I discovered the basket of mangoes with no pain

I emptied the basket in a bag I had brought along

But being a grown up now I felt it was wrong

Just then I saw a narrow stick lying on the ground

I inflicted it upon me without ringing a sound

Now it does not feel so bad

I left the farm feeling very glad

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