The thud of a mango snaps me out of my nostalgic trance. I look over to see where it fell, and see Hanuman rush over to pick it up. Nothing beats village mangoes, they're small and green, the inside the brightest orange, and bursting with such flavor and sweetness that they remind me what nature tastes like again. I think back to my first encounter with mangoes in Walmart back in the States. Huge, engorged and utterly tasteless, I could barely hold one in a single hand. It was red too, mangoes aren't red, they're green.
I hear the screen door creak. Naresh is talking on the phone, he sees me perched on the concrete railing of the roof, but doesn't turn away. He finishes his conversation and makes his way over to me. Any other time he would have told me to get down, that it was dangerous, but now he joins me. This would be with first time we would really speak in 2 years. He practically raised me as a child, he played with me when my parents were working or just busy, and was there when I needed him.
"Ubbah theeme kustho cha?" How are you doing?
This isn't small talk, he genuinely wants to know. Maybe he can sense the melancholic state I am in, but either way, I'm glad he asked.
"Teek cha." I'm fine.
There is silence. Conversation, just like everything else, moves a little slower out here. I like it that way. I start counting the trees in the back yard. Seven... eight... nine... there are a lot more than I thought. My favorite mango tree is gone, it had become too old and started rotting from the inside. It's been a year since they cut it down but the stump still lays there, massive and unmoving, still containing memories from my childhood.
"Esto kaaha pani poundaina." You can't find this anywhere else.
"Ke? Rhooke haru?" What? The trees?
"Rhooke haru, chuda haru, shahar ma hullah huncha" The trees, the birds, cities have too much noise.
I see Hanuman in the grove again, this time wielding a 20 foot bamboo pole. He must have grown tired of waiting for the fruit to fall, and decided to take action. Naresh and I both watch as he lifts the pole and high as he can, to reach some of the lowest hanging fruit, and swings. He's been doing this for long enough, he gets one on the first try and it plummets to the ground with another thud. He drops the pole and rushes over the fallen mango, grabs it, and disappears as quickly as he showed up.
"Rhooke haru ethi toohlo hoodhaina America ma? The trees aren't this big in America?
I pause, "Hoodhaina. Lamo ra patulo huncha, ethi baklo ani hariyo houdhaina" They aren't. They're tall and thin, not this thick and green.
A myna bird flies across the orchard below, its song echoes in unison with the countless other species that are hidden in the foliage of the trees. Two chipmunks dance around each other on the more precarious branches of the biggest mango tree, never once losing balance. It looks like fun.
"Theeme bihar garepachee, theemro sirimathee yuhaa liehra ownuparcha" After you get married you need to bring your new wife here.
I chuckle, "Huncha" Alright.
Mango, banana, leechee, guava, date, lemon, papaya... I start counting all the types of trees that are now coming into blossom. Seven different fruits in one grove, each one producing fruit more delicious than the last. I wish could take them back with me.
"Teemro amaa ghar ko paint mun lagyo." Your mom wants to paint the house.
"Ho? Uhtha, dehray ramro dehkcha." Really? Yea, that'll look really nice.
Grapefruit. I just spotted it hiding behind the lemon tree, that's eight.
"Ani peri kena ownee?" When are you coming again?
I pause a little longer this time.
"Thaha chaina" I don't know.
This time the silence is different, it's heavier, and I heave a sigh. The clouds are probably the most beautiful I have ever seen. They only break far in the distance, where a little patch of blue peaks through. The rest of the sky is filled with turbulent white clouds, the sunlight of the dawn gently kissing their edges.
"Chinta chaina. Owna, aap kanay" Don't worry. Come, let's eat mangoes.
He hops off the ledge and heads down the stairs without looking back. A smile creeps across my face, and I follow.