This story belongs to the ‘80s. One summer afternoon, my brother and I set off on a prowl, wanting to steal. You see the mango trees in our neighbour’s backyard were legendary. While the fruit of these trees was sweeter than any Alphonso and more fragrant than the Dasheris of Malihabad, what made them all the more irresistible was that they were so close by and ready to be relished. And we had waited long.

Old enough to climb over the boundary wall, escape vigilance and commit the crime, and too young to be bothered by the consequences, all we wanted was to savour every bite of the succulent fruit, lick juice off our elbows and suck on the seeds until they were totally bald.

Wise men say the thrill of the so-called adventure makes the fruit of labour sweeter. And mind you, ours was no ordinary adventure. It was as legendary as the neighbour. You can accuse me of name-dropping but our neighbour was Mahadevi Verma, one of Hindi literature’s most renowned poetess and author. In her seventies at the time, she lived in a run-down house with a handful of househelps and her muse – her pets. They might have been inspirational to the writer, but for us kids who were up to mischief most of the time, these animals showed no traits of well-behaved pets. They were feral and best avoided. And because Ms Verma was known to shelter animals of every shape and size, you were not just dodging those that barked or meowed – and there were plenty of those – but ones that slithered, sprinted or flew as well. Although we never saw one, we were convinced the slithering ones were present. Plus, no one can deny that the mere thought of their presence added to the thrill.

If you’re now wondering how it all ended, I feel it does not matter. What matters is that decades later my brother and I still giggle about our escapades.

Anyways, to cut the long story short, every Indian has a favourite mango story to tell. But if you’re one of those rare ones who doesn’t have a story, then I hope our mango recipes will help you create one.

Let me know what you think…

Reach me at mshekar@gulfnews.com.

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