I always hear my father saying that earning is easy but spending it, justifying its true value, is the most difficult thing to do. So, he would always pay attention to the best he could buy or make from what he had. He would go for the best things, whatever they may be, including vegetables, even if they were relatively costly. Vegetable market was always a place I would love to go if got a chance, especially alone or with a person who wants to buy some fresh and the best stuff. I like going to vegetable and fruit markets because there you see, smell and touch the beautiful, fresh and colorful vegetables scattered all around. It gives me some happiness and excitement when I see heaps of carrots, onions, potatoes, tomatoes and beautifully decorated baskets of lemons with garlic, ginger and green chillies sharing their own places beside. Fresh smell of oranges, apples and green grapes packed in boxes and the shop decorated with tens of them. It always gave me a pleasure to visit this “Mandi” and I was surprised when I heard people saying that they hate going to this great place. It was more fun for me because I just watched everything around me and learned a bit from my father about taking care of my stuff, asking the rates and moving towards the best and out of the best, picking up the healthiest of the vegetables for me. I noticed that it’s not that easy what it seemed. Because I found how difficult it is to choose the best fruits and vegetables and what are the tips to be followed. Strange is the thing that very few people pay attention to this daily activity they do in their lives, to the stuff they consume regularly when they know that this is what is the source of their energy. In middle class families, a good part of monthly expenditure goes to only vegetables and fruits. So, if you spend a huge sum on it, you better spend it wisely so that you stay healthy.
It was just another summer evening when I was as excited as always in the vibrant and noisy market. After buying the required vegetables, especially mushrooms on my demand (this was what I liked!), our next destination was fruit market. And the best part today was: Mangoes. A very special variety of this fruit, “Kalmi”, famous for its very strong and sweet smell, is always awaited throughout the season. So as soon as it arrives in the market, there is no chance one could lose to have it at once. I was lost in that sweet smell all around me and the beautiful yellow-green decorations all over, ignoring the fact that there were cows waiting to grab the rotten ones thrown by the vendor beside his stall. And in no time I was in front of the best we could get there. I always tried to pick one good-looking piece and put it in our packet but every time I was suggested to just watch instead of helping.
I looked around and that was another reason I found why I went to these markets because here you see something, unusual to your life, which arouses your conscience to bring a change for the betterment of your society and environment. Beside this stall, was another hawker who had some stale mangoes and most of them were not in a state that we could even offer them to the cattle nearby. I would have preferred them inside a bin. I was wondering why he even had them here. He knew some people will buy them. But I could not even imagine that there can be anyone who could spend his precious money to buy something which is not even worth it. All ragged was a woman with around a six-month old on her shoulder, a year or older boy clinging to her sari whose colour I could not recognize under the mud and dust which covered it all over, and other two girls of nearly same age (around five or six) standing around her, looking and luring for those deserted mangoes. I don’t know when but I realized I no more had the joy which I cherished a moment ago. It was replaced by a weird distressing feeling that I became deaf to all the noise around me. I found it strange as there was no point she could have worked all day long to have a ten rupee note, which had some importance that time though today they are no less than just a parking fare for an hour. She would have begged whole day without having a grain or maybe she was enough lucky to find it somewhere on the road and thus decided to offer a mango treat to her children. Mangoes: something which they could only dream to have someday. She asked the vendor to give her whatever she could get in those ten rupees. There was no point that man would have paid enough attention to her and she could not even dare to have enough guts to ask for at least the value that money had. She left herself to the pity of that man, whom I hated from the very moment I saw him displaying his rotten fruit stall. I wanted to go to her and say that just choose for yourself you fool, don’t you know he won’t give you the best of them, as there were hardly any.
It seemed that because my hatred for him had to be justified, he tried his best by filling her packet with the most rotten and stale stuff he had among the worst. I wanted to go and choose at least the better ones for her. This was one way I could have felt peace and would have helped her and her children enjoy whatever least those mangoes had to present them. But I hated that I didn’t, as if somewhere I felt guilty and was caught by something that wouldn’t allow me to go. Or simply because I didn’t had enough guts to do that or was simply a coward? I wanted to tell my father as I knew he could have helped her but he would not hear me in that chaos, busy in paying for the best in the market. There was a strange contrast. A difference whose existence puzzled my instincts to seek for a solution, for that impossible balance which could have made a different world, a magic land that a child visualizes in the fairy tales. Still, they were all happy when she held the packet in her hand. They were a mannered family because they shared their happiness and waited patiently to find a peaceful corner to enjoy those mangoes; mangoes just for namesake. They had a joy on their faces. I could not interpret anything else from that moment or simply didn’t try any further. Whenever I find myself in such a dilemma I usually stop my thinking process and look around; just look being numb and keeping my five senses active only to stay alive, though while leaving the place, I did smell the sweet mangoes I had in my hands.