Tan Pratonix

Bronze Star - 2,607 Points (Triolet, Mauritius)

Reminiscences And Regrets - Poem by Tan Pratonix

The smell of crushed mango leaves
Takes me back to more than forty years ago,
To early schooldays,
When little boys in khaki shorts stand
Eating tangy, raw mango slices,
Cut long and cross-wise,
Dipped in salt and chili powder –
Lip-smacking –
Purchased from the push-cart vendor
Outside the huge iron school gate.

Mangoes bluish-green, tinged with purple-yellow,
Hanging from thin stems in large leafy trees;
Mangoes plucked fresh from branches,
Tasting like coconut,
Crunchy and just-sweet.
I remember baskets of dark-green mangoes
(Raw, and hard as little cannon-balls)
Purchased in lots in summer markets,
Chopped into pieces to prepare
Avakaaya – a red, hot, spicy pickle
Arriving in April in native households;
Eaten with fresh ghee and rice,
Is ambrosia for the taste-buds.

Nothing can beat the lusciously sweet, thick
Juicy slices of the golden Benisha,
A plump and lovely drupe.
(Other famous varieties found in the north –
Totapuri, Chausa, Dussehri –
Are no match for this buxom beauty,
This darling of all tropical fruit –
Save the Alphonso,
Grown in Konkan gardens.)

I’ve eaten plums, apples, cherries, grapes
(But Western fruit are no comparison really):
Loose-jacketed Nagpur mandarin
Oranges, known as Santraas,
And varieties of sugary bananas,
Besides ripe jack-fruit
(Whose flavour and texture –
Delectable it is true –
Cannot match the taste of a juicy Rasaalu)
And sticky-sweet pineapple rings, cut with a sickle,
Purchased at Ponda in the foothills of Goa.
I remember bunches of lychees in the Siliguri market,
Peeling off the hard red rind and then plopping
The smooth wet flesh, translucent white, dripping sweet,
Into my mouth, my fingers all sticky,
And then spitting out the big black seed.

These are memories from early days,
Sparked by the mild crackling scent of
Crushed mango leaves.
And now observing the evil of recent years,
In city streets, where bright yellow fruit,
Ripened with chemicals, wreck unwary consumers,
(And debilitated, they die)
While municipal authorities, their pockets
Full of bribes, turn a blind eye:
I’ve decided to reduce consumption
Of this noble fruit, thanks to the lax
Food laws of a grossly insensitive nation.
(I call this ‘mango desecration’!)

There’s a scent of Mango Leaf,
Described as ‘reminiscent of a lazy
Summer afternoon, a lushly bright, cheerful
Composition’, but I can give it a miss!
I’m not prepared for this:
Toxic fruit and genetically-modified
Gourds, brinjals and tomatoes,
Products of mad scientists,
Adding to various fears and woes.
So, with great regret, it’s
‘Goodbye, Mangoes! ’

Topic(s) of this poem: memories

Comments about Reminiscences And Regrets by Tan Pratonix

  • Seamus O' Brian (10/6/2016 9:21:00 AM)

    What a wonderful tour of what I consider exotic fruit, and what you know as childhood memories. My wife is Trinidadian, and I have wonderful memories of lymin' underneath the neighborhood's favorite mango trees. Don't get a mango lover discoursing on the character of various mangoes if you have somewhere you need to be. Thanks for this treat.
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  • (10/3/2016 12:19:00 PM)

    Love Mangoes myself! Tragically chemical additives have ruined many fruits. I have fresh blackberries picked from my garden. It is a wistful look back to earlier and better times when the fruit was uncontaminated. An important subject well presented, Tan (Report) Reply

  • Akachukwu Lekwauwa (9/17/2015 7:11:00 AM)

    it's good one from you Tan. (Report) Reply

  • David Wood (9/17/2015 4:52:00 AM)

    You've made me feel hungry! I love mango and I love your poem. (Report) Reply

  • Roop Rekha Bhaskar (9/17/2015 12:18:00 AM)

    YEEEEE.... my mouth is watering. and the manner you have written, mind flowing with the vision of mangoes. Mangoes everywhere. I was made to savour the flavour of mangoes thru this poem. Thank you. (Report) Reply

  • Nathan Coppedge (9/16/2015 3:40:00 PM)

    In the modern taste! (Report) Reply

  • Nathan Coppedge (9/16/2015 3:39:00 PM)

    A pleasing fantastic reverie!

    It begins with slightly too much focus on spice, I think. But, to your own taste.

    I'm not a big fan of sensory poems in general, but it comes across well in the end.

    I don't have any advice about the images. The words are well-chosen. Whether they correspond to real things I wonder about.

    Good poem, generally.
    (Report) Reply

    Tan Pratonix Tan Pratonix (9/16/2015 8:49:00 PM)

    There is another part of the world that you might not be familiar with: Tropical South Asia, the land of mangoes. So spice does come into it!

    The words correspond to the real things. Those are different varieties of mangoes.

    Thanks for your comments, Nathan. I am encouraged.

  • (9/16/2015 12:31:00 PM)

    A great poem, Tan. It is about so much more than fruit and memories being corrupted...It is a reminder that all change is not always for the better. A great work. (Report) Reply

  • Jacqueline Nash (9/16/2015 7:37:00 AM)

    A well written poem full of nostalgia Tan. Your description of the fruit made my mouth water, very good imagery. Then you bring the reader down to earth with the realities of what goes on in food production today. Well done! :) (Report) Reply

  • Rachel Hill (9/16/2015 7:04:00 AM)

    Well done..for your time and effort composing this poem...but Time wise find it too long to read...I am losing the plot......I guess I only like simply and short poems....keep safe...x (Report) Reply

  • Pamela Sinicrope (9/14/2015 4:12:00 PM)

    I LOVED this poem. This is the second mango poem I've read today...very different. Your luscious descriptions really pulled me in and your descriptive imagery is spot on. I kept reading on and on too see where the gut punch was going to be...and there is was! This is so sad what we are doing to our food and our bodies. I spend the day last week on a hobby farm to learn about the family farming movement here in the US and what family farmers here are doing to make the soil and the animals healthy again. This is a world wide problem. Again, your poetry is hitting on important world issues. Well done! (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Friday, September 11, 2015

Poem Edited: Saturday, September 12, 2015

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