This is Jamun season. Jamun is a purplish black fruit, small in size having flesh and a stone inside. The fruit in its full ripeness is heavenly and sweet, though when raw it can be sour and bitter. The fruit as also it’s stone are known to have medicinal value.
You will wonder what prompts me to write, of all things, about Jamun. Read an interesting small write up in today’s newspaper penned by evergreen Jug Suraiya, where he laments about Jamun being sold at an exorbitant price of Rs.200 a Kg., something that was available to him for free during his childhood days spent in Kolkata, where he and his friends could pluck the fruit straight from the trees that lined Kolkata avenues, of course, free of any cost whatsoever! The writer further complains about freebies such as drinking water and clean air, which were available in abundance for free in his childhood, but which now cost a fortune (some of the mineral water brands come quite expensive; to escape themselves from polluted air, people are using expensive masks and equipment that are capable of purifying air inside homes).
Actually, in one of my earlier blogs, I had preached the futility of lamenting about the past and to live in present. However, coming across articles such as the one I have made a mention of above, one cannot resist indulging in a bit of nostalgia. Some of the instances of freebies that we were privileged to have in the times of yore and which I can readily collect are:
(1) Free chillies and coriander with every purchase of vegetable. Some vendors still oblige but only with larger purchases.
(2) Free pan for children accompanying the elders. Every time, I went with my father, uncles or other elders to their post dinner walks for a pan or smoke, I would be the beneficiary of a small sweet pan, especially rolled for me, more importantly free of cost.
(3) Accompanying elders to any shop would generally fetch me a free toffee or chocolate, though bigger purchases such as saris or gold jewellery would mean free coke and cookies.
It’s difficult to explain whether this nostalgia is about freebies or the freedom associated with childhood. I think the free air, water and Jamun that Jug Suraiya mentioned was more to do with the memories of his childhood than the current state of affairs associated with the above elements . Actually, more than anything it was about the free mind, which in today’s world is not quite possible being occupied with all the worries and concerns about studies, careers, income, luxuries, promotions, assets, cars, social status, IPL, politics etc. if mind is preoccupied and busy, nothing comes free!