I was quite a mischievous kid and Daadi (my grandma) was my partner in crime. In times of potential smack sessions from Ma, I would run to Daadi for cover and hide behind her. As an adept negotiator, my Daadi would swing into action and wheedle Ma out of her rage. I re-appeared promptly after the storm passed and Daadi pushed a candy into my mouth. A modest battle won!
A ten-year old and a sixty-five year old had a lot in common. I went temple-hopping with her and catching up with peers. She would take me out to play and accompany me on errands. She was always the first one I hugged when I returned from school and the bond I shared with her was incredible. Among other things she liked, she devoured fruits - especially custard apples and so did I.
This visit, rambling in the garden back home I spotted a custard apple that sent me into flashback. I remembered days when Daadi would keep a watchful eye on the ripening custard apples and shoo off squirrels and parrots that nimbled away the fruit in no time. Disappointed with her failed attempts to rescue, she picked the remaining semi-ripe ones off the tree, wrapped them in newspapers and set them in our flour container in the kitchen. It took about two days to ripen, and ten minutes to eat. Besides, she used to make some great custard apple milk shake.
The custard apple (also known as bull's heart, sitaphal, shareefa, aata) tree we have at home is not too tall, about 10-12 feet. It prefers a warm and humid climate and needs good care during the oppressive summers of Northern India. The fruits have high nutritional value and considered useful in treating anaemia.
I dedicate this post to my Daadi I couldn't be with when she breathed her last.