The air is laden with the sweet fragrance of mango blossoms. It’s February once again! Cambodia is a place blessed with mango trees in abundance. Almost every house has one tree in the courtyard. We have a tree in front of our house which proudly bore more than a hundred fruits last year; golden, creamy, sweet mangoes! The best mangoes I have ever tasted! With the arrival of February the mango tree is draped herself in gleaming, silky delicate green foliage. Where is that sensuous coppery-red satin gown she has been wearing a few days back?!
The mango tree in front of our house
Draped in copper hues
Veiled in tender green!
Golden blossoms looking heavenwards
Soon the she bursts into blossoms; golden fragrant ones. The sharp tips of the bunches pointing skywards… Now the costume gets changed into a profound green with the added responsibility of the buds. A more matured and responsible disposition that befits a to-be-mom. The blossoms on some of the branches grow so heavy that they bend their heads wearily. Sometimes I feel there’s no better word for a mango blossom than our Malayalam equivalent ‘mampoo’.
This is the festive season for all the little winged souls around! They celebrate the season with great pomp and noise, tirelessly celebrating baby showers and new arrivals everyday! Bees go humming and roving around the tree in circles. The greedy lot get so drunk, wobbly winged and reel in all directions! Emily Dickinson rightly called the bee a debauchee!! The birds too keep pace with them; they are so reluctant to leave the tree and they babble, whistle, tweet, chirp, chatter, sing…Fill the air with their magic tumult, from dawn till dusk! The bulbuls, the sparrows, the robins, the fantails – each one is a chorister par excellence!
a drunken bee… Dickinson rightly called him a debauchee
Poets are absolutely right when they say that the koels, eat the tender leaves of the mango tree to make their singing sweeter. The famous Malayalam poet Vallathol in his lullaby portrays the koel, intoxicated after eating tender mango leaves, singing a sweet song. The magpie robins and fantails are the koel’s counterparts here. Then there is the Plaintive cuckoo who visits at this time of the year filling our Bassac Garden with her plaintive notes! After an year’s experience I am convinced that these happy singers and cheer leaders are the reason and secret behind the countless mangoes on our small mango tree. Bounty and happiness go hand in hand?
A red eyed Plaintive Cuckoo, who fills the air with her plaintive notes…
Swaying in the breeze!
Pavement lined with mango trees-Koh Pich (Diamond Island)
The pavements of Koh Pich near our Bassac Garden are lined with mango trees… It’s a refreshing experience to take a morning walk breathing the pleasant scent of the blossoms. Mango blossoms have a special place in the realm of Indian poetry. Kalidasa and other great poets of the past loved to sing about the season and also about the koels that forget their surroundings after drinking the nectar of mango blossoms, the bees who whisper sweet nothings to each other inebriated with the nectar. Mango blossom happens to be one of the five arrows of the God of love, Kamadeva (the counter part of Cupid). I’m not surprised that the one who is shot with an arrow of these intoxicating, heady scented flowers is soon smitten with love!
The season, though it’s the start of Summer here, somehow reminds me of Keats’ ‘Autumn’, where the season together with the maturing Sun, who is her bosom friend, conspires to ‘set budding more and still more’ (thus o’er-brimming the clammy cell of the bees), to ‘bless and load every vine and tree with fruits’ and to fill them with ripeness to the core. Yes, every season has its beauty and charm; every season has its music. February can boast of her bright skies, mango blossoms and jubilations that last two fortnights!