Open 2020, Short Stories - Ronald Robin Roy


An Indian Summer

By Ronald Robin Roy 


Summer in India is a mango affair and the orchards of Chandrapur Village blooms into vivid yellow velvet, as ripe, sweet mangoes hang by the branches at suburban areas. Local village markets are flooded with fresh, tender crateful of mangoes packaged with golden hay and old newspapers.


In the morning breakfast, aged people start their diet with mangoes blended with milk and puffed rice. Children and youth love them raw, as they bite the tip of the mango peel to make a hole and suck the sweet juice like a bee sucking nectar. Housewives often let mango chunks bask in the hot sun for preparing mango pickle.

Bahadur Ali is a poor, aged seasonal businessman, famously known for his homemade sweets. While in summer season, he would sell fresh mangoes of the Chandrapur village in the nearest town named Lachit Nagar. The fifty years old man lives a lonely life in a thatched-roof hut in Chandrapur.


Due to deteriorating health day by day, Bahadur Ali has chosen to walk through the locality of Lachit Nagar where people know him best. He is famous among the children, who run to the gate and greets him with a glass of water and in lieu, they savor the home-made delicacies of his hand. One such child is Tim Tom, a little school boy who lives in the second last cottage of the By Lane 07 in Lachit Nagar. Every afternoon, Tim Tom awaits the arrival of Bahadur Ali and upon seeing him carrying two containers hanging from the edges of a long bamboo stick hanging from his shoulder, little Tim Tom runs with his collected pocket money and peeps into the container.


Tim Tom shares his favorite Soan Papri with his tamed Parrot named Kitu. Not just human, Bahadur Ali is popular among animals, as stray dogs and hungry cats in the lane fag its tail upon seeing him, and follow him. As summer season has arrived with sting of heat and thirst, Bahadur Ali has picked up the profession of selling mangoes to his customers.


He visits the local village market in the morning to pick up mangoes and reaches the sleepy town in the afternoon. Every summer, Bahadur Ali earns a good amount of money by selling mangoes keeping his margin that covers his travel cost and minimum daily expenses.

One sunny afternoon of May, Bahadur Ali arrives in the locality to sell mangoes. He walks through the lanes, shouting out his slogan – Mango. Fresh Mango. Chandrapur Mango to make your day! Surprisingly, he discovers that not a single customer is waiting for him outside the gate.


Strangely, verandahs are vacant and doors are shut. The street dog sniffs his leg and containers, and follows him.

“Where is everyone?” Bahadur Ali mutters rubbing sweat from his forehead.

He reaches the second last cottage, where Tim Tom is playing with his Parrot on the verandah. The parrot is a fast learner and it speaks a few broken words too. Seeing Tim Tom on the verandah, Bahadur Ali halts in the gate. Tim Tom shifts his gaze with utter delight and runs to greet Bahadur Ali.

“Hello Tim Tom!” Bahadur Ali asks with pinch of frustration in eyebrows.

Tim Tom looks around the containers and peeps inside lifting the lid.

“Hello Ali Chacha. Where are the mangoes?” Tim Tom says with excitement.

Bahadur Ali slides down the container stick and squat down to sit. He takes out a mango from inside the container and slices it with knife. Tim Tom squats to sit down alongside him.

“I have brought full of sweet and fresh mangoes, Tim Tom. But where is your mother. Isn’t she buying mangoes today?”

“No. She has already bought mangoes. One Champak from our town had come in the morning to sell mangoes. They are sweet and fresh too.” Tim Tom replies to displease Bahadur Ali.

Bahadur Ali looks at the face of Tim Tom without a blink. Sweat rolls down through his cheek. Tim Tom lifts the lid of the container and fiddles with the mangoes.


Bahadur offers half of the sliced mango to the parrot by dropping the pieces through the gap of the cage. Parrot utters, “Thank You” and eats the mango chunks. And the other half, he offers to Tim Tom. Wearing a broad smile, Tim Tom relishes on the mango.


“Okay Tim Tom, I’ll leave. Stay Blessed.” Bahadur Ali says patting on his shoulder and gets up.


“Are you coming tomorrow, Ali Chacha?” Tim Tom asks with mango pulp covered mouth.


Bahadur Ali heaves a sigh and says, “Who has seen tomorrow, son?”


Bahadur Ali walks off shooting his head down. But his slogan does not farewell his lips, as he shouts, not so louder like before, until he disappears walking out of the by lane. Tim Tom drops the mango peel inside the parrot cage.


Next afternoon, Bahadur Ali takes the same route but again, no customer is entertained by his slogan. Lachit Nagar lanes have turned into a deserted hubbub of silence in the afternoon and Bahadur Ali is in sheer distress. He cannot reach before Champak in the bright morning hours who have overthrown him from selling mangoes in the locality.


It takes Bahadur Ali an hour of travelling everyday to reach and he could travel only after he has the supply of mangoes in hand. With poor eyesight and weak limbs, Bahadur Ali cannot choose a new locality as well.


Bahadur Ali walks through the lane shouting slogan and reaches Tim Tom’s house. He doesn’t stop but offer a mango for the boy and the parrot to share. Days have passed, and Bahadur Ali’s mangoes are untouched and have started to rot.


One afternoon, Bahadur Ali decides to stay back in the town with his container full of mangoes. He passes the night underneath the small bus shelter in the open pavement and decides to reach the locality before Champak next morning.

It’s midnight. Roads are deserted. Lights of the houses are shut down. Shops shutters are down. A few street lamps are lit and faint golden light illuminates the small area of the road. Flies are swarming underneath the street lamp bulb. Somewhere behind the maze of lanes, dogs are heard barking.


Bahadur Ali takes a sip of water from the plastic water bottle and then, lay down on the iron bars of the bus shelter. He has placed his mango containers on the floor, as he held the stick with his hands. Bahadur Ali is tired and broken, and he cannot keep his eyes open for long. Soon, he is asleep. Crow caws in front of his ears. Bahadur Ali wakes up with a jerk to look around. Sun is up for broad daylight and a few people are raising the shutters of their shop.


He looks around and then, shifts his gaze downwards. He sees the stick is fallen and container’s lids are removed. Not a single mango can be found in the containers except the golden hay and torn newspaper left behind. Silent drop of tears roll down the cheek of Bahadur Ali. Squeezing his eyes, Bahadur Ali gets up without claiming about thieving or uttering a word, coves the containers with lid and holding it on shoulder, he walks off the spot.


For the last moment, he enters the locality and walks through the lane. He cannot see Tim Tom in the gate but discovers people of the locality gathered around a short boy in his 20s wearing quartered trouser and a tattered tee shirt. He is selling mangoes in bundles.


“Champak, don’t forget me!” a customer shouts from behind the gathering.


Bahadur Ali stands at the edge of the lane and glimpse at the scenario. Unable to bear any longer, he does not enter the lane but walks away towards the market place to catch a bus to Chandrapur.

A few days later, Tim Tom’s house has a guest in the evening. Mr. Basu and his wife have come for an evening tea and gossip. Their little son, Bitlu storm inside upon seeing Tim Tom and both of them have become inseparable partner for indoor video games. The parrot is no less excited inside the cage, as it hops and utters words like ‘welcome’ and ‘happy’.


Mr. Basu, who is a very playful and jolly man in his 40s, is exclusively fascinated on seeing the parrot and he cannot resist but come close to the cage and examine the talking bird.


“As you know Mr. Basu who is smitten by business since our marriage days, now, he is planning to open a new juice shop,” Mr. Basu wife Sunita says in the middle of conversation while sipping tea.


They are gathered in the drawing room to gossip while Mr. Basu is busy glancing at the Parrot kept in the corner of the room.


“Yes. And since this is summer, I am looking for good supply of authentic mangoes. Sweet and fresh Mango juice will surely go hit in this scorching summer,” Mr. Basu overhears his wife and replies while fiddling the tail of Parrot.


Suddenly, the parrot mutters – “Mango. Fresh Mango. Chandrapur Mango to make your day!”


Mr. Basu is shocked. Tim Tom runs to the spot with astonishment.


The parrot resumes – “Mango, Fresh Mango. Chandrapur Mango to make your day!”


Tim Tom applauds and says out loud, “Papa, mamma, Kitu learnt new words. The way Bahadur Ali used to shout! Wow!”


“Yes son. Bahadur Ali used to sell good mangoes. I wonder what he is doing these days,” Tim Tom’s mother says.


Unable to digest the inquisitiveness any longer, Mr. Basu stands up and speaks.


“What is the parrot saying? Who on earth is Bahadur Ali?” Mr. Basu questions restlessly.


“Bahadur Ali is a mango seller from the Chandrapur village who sold good quality of local mangoes in the locality. But suddenly he disappeared,” Tim Tom’s father says.


“And he used to shout the same sentence as parrot just spoke – “Mango. Fresh Mango. Chandrapur Mango to make your day!” Tim Tom says and imitates Bahadur Ali while saying the slogan.


Mr. Basu’s mouth is wide open. His face has lightened up and a ray of hope flickers in his eyes.


“Well then, I got the vendor for mango supply. Who is taking me to him?” Mr. Basu concludes with full passion looking around the faces of the presence. Everyone looks at each other, astound by Mr. Basu’s sudden move.


“I know his house. Once on Sunday, I went to his house without informing,” Tim Tom fumbles as he confesses hesitatingly while looking towards his mother’s growing anger face.


“Mango. Fresh Mango. Chandrapur Mango to make your day!” the parrot interrupts with the slogan.


Summer is nearing the end as autumn wind started to blow. In the Sunday afternoon, Bahadur Ali is standing in front of the gate of Tim Tom’s house. He is dressed neat and tidy and wearing a fresh, broad smile on his face. His newly bought scooter is parked aside.


On seeing Bahadur Ali at gate, Tim Tom’s mother and father comes to greet him as Tim Tom await excitedly at gate for a gift box that Bahadur Ali has brought. The parrot hops inside the cage and utters the words – ‘Bahadur Ali, Bahadur Ali. Welcome.’


“This Summer had been the most precious season in my entire life, and I shall carry with me the memories of fall and Rise as I perish,” Bahadur Ali addresses to Tim Tom’s parents with utter emotion, holding a paper box wrapped in gift paper.


He offers the box to Tim Tom with a smile and fumbling his hair.


“This could be the last family of mangoes, before autumn arrives. This is for Tim Tom and my dear Kitu who served me a twist in my life. Feed him properly,” Bahadur Ali says shifting his gaze towards the parrot cage hanging in the verandah.


Bahadur Ali is escorted inside the house for tea break and gossip. Tim Tom savors the mango while seated in the verandah. As he is finished eating the mango, Tim Tom walks to the backyard of the house with the yellow mango seed, digs out mud and engraves the seed inside the mud.


He takes his art book, sketches to write – Bahadur Mango Tree on a blank paper and pasting it on a small bamboo stem with glue; he treasures his memory with Bahadur Ali by putting the stem on the premise of seed engraved in the soil.

Someday, in the bosom of scorching yet sweet and pulpy summer, the story will be told underneath the shades of the full-grown Mango tree.



Dan A. Cardoza from US has his poetry, fiction, and nonfiction published in the Apple in the Dark, Aphelion, BlazeVOX, Bull, Cleaver, Coffin Bell, Door=Jar, Drunken Pen Writing, Entropy, Dark City Magazine, Gravel, Lowestoft Chronicles, Mystery Tribune, New Flash Fiction Review, Poetry Northwest, Spelk, Your Impossible Voice. Best of the Net Anthology Nomination, Coffin Bell, 2020, and others.


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