We got to India when pomegranate season had just started. Powerful, beautiful tones of pink and red had taken over breakfast tiffins and curd bowls. And although the seeds were bright and healthy, I carried in me the burden of wanting to be somewhere else at all times during that same season. Nothing seemed enough, especially me.
The breeze got better when custard apple season came along, making a sweet mess inside my bag when it pressed against my books. By then, I had learned how to hail autos, eat with my hands and get my class to listen. I also learned then that I had to let certain things go to be able to look for the beauty around me.
And that beauty only seemed to fully show when it was guava season. I saw beauty in the colors of the streets and the wind at night. I saw beauty in the eyes of my host sisters and the laughter of my students. The food, the fellows, the silence in my room at night. I could finally see beauty in the mirror when I had a kurta on.
The grapes came with Christmas and colder nights and friends flying to India to see how I was doing. I had grapes on New Year's Eve on the beach in Pondicherry and as a snack on a school day.
And finally, watermelon arrived just as the heat seemed to rise up – 20 rupees, with salt on the street, right before class. One sister had just turned four and the other was already trying her first steps. Students getting ready for exams, fellows planning community projects.
Flavors and textures of all types for breakfast, one season after the other. But the real excitement seemed to lie somewhere else:
“When does mango season start?”
“Oh no! You will be leaving right as it begins – around April.”
Mango season is our last season – I understood.
Time flew and I forgot about the seasons when this morning my host grandpa offered me a mango to eat on the way. The sweet smile was the same as every day, but the absence of the usual orange or banana made me freeze for a moment.
As I came back home by auto today, I could sense the smell in the fruit stands along the way, even from afar. The green and yellow-ish fruit that I know so well from my part of the tropics made me feel almost inappropriate there.
Mango season is our last season – I remembered. It is time to go home.