The forbidden Apple is fraught with the bad reputation of defiance. It was the union of Adam and Eve. It turned the Gods and the world upside down. Biblical stories are galore of the first bite that made the serpent happy.
In traditional Hindu philosophy, a fruit is given as obeisance to the Gods to appease them. I am fascinated with Amruta Dongray’s choice of her brand name Amrud which she calls “The Abundant You”. My mind races with the thought of the gorgeous nymph who bites into a ripe Amrud known as Guava in English. As the juice of the fruit soaks her chin and mouth, she knows the art of seduction isn’t only about the body. It is an amalgamation of all the senses.
I recall the summer months at my aunt’s home in Assam. It was humid and the tree in her garden had much ripe Amrud hanging from the branches. I saw Pishi’s maid who was 21-year-old and unmarried. Hell of a lot beyond her marriageable age in the tribal community of the Bodos, she was seeking a partner.
She went every day into the terrace in peak afternoons when all the elders slept. She used to seductively bite into the ripe Amrud while flirting with Pishi’s neighbour’s cook. He too would go upstairs at 3.00 pm.
As the huge grandfather clock in our home struck 3.00 pm, Baku would furtively walk upstairs in the pretext of picking up dried clothes just to meet him.
I never slept and with one eye watched her routine every day. One day, I told her I would tell everyone at home what she was up to if she didn’t take me along. I was 10 years old and I knew the threat would work. She made me promise to never open my mouth and also offered to pluck the ripest Amruds from the tree for me. We agreed on that arrangement. It became a ritual for both Baku and me to quietly walk up the stairs without a sound, open the terrace door and walk towards the edge. The Amrud tree was hanging heavy with fruits that squirrels had eaten and left some for us.
Baku stretched her arm forward and I envied her mature body as I prayed to Jesus to quickly bestow me with those curves. She smiled at me, cleaned the plucked Amrud from the branches on her cotton sari and gave me the prized fruit. I smiled back at her while eating the ripe fruit.
The neighbours cook stared at her while she plucked the fruit and Baku just exchanged glances while licking and eating her green fruit. I recalled the moral science class of my strict Convent school and told her to be worried about snakes. She scoffed at me like I was the greatest dunce she had ever met.
Next morning, Baku snapped at me for something and I decided to tell Pishi about Baku eating all the guavas. Baku was reprimanded and the terrace door was locked from that day. Baku stopped talking to me.
My holidays came to an end and I walked up to Baku, apologized to her and offered her my pack of chocolates. She smiled and gave me an ocean blue pendant that she had in her little box of accessories. She put it around my neck and said, “ teach me to speak English”.
Years have passed but the reflection of the blue pendant haunted my mind for a very long time. I knew I had wronged Baku.
Years after, as I rummaged into my belongings, I found Amruta’s necklace with the sugar dropsy blue ocean pendant holding on to a silver drum as its companion. It reminded me of Baku. I sat holding that piece in my hand, wondering if Baku is married now.
It was a moonlit night and I held the pendant against the still water. It reflected the blue. The moon above played hide and seek into the dark skies. The blue colour just looked pristine pretty. I begged again for forgiveness and stared long into its reflection.
Baku will forever remain a pang of guilt in my heart and this sugar dropsy pendant will forever be my coveted piece till the waves crash into the high tide of my soul, bleaching my bone marrow and soaking my ankles with the chains of doubt. Does Baku still eat the Amrud at 3.00 pm in another terrace, waiting for a man to complete her? And if I get another chance, I shall tell Baku that the cook wasn’t man enough to hold her and tell her she is beautiful. I hope Baku isn’t waiting any longer.