09 April 2015

A mango is a book, did you know?

Pic courtesy http://sl-donaldj.blogspot.com/
This is the twenty sixth article in a series I am writing for the JEANS section of 'The Nation'.  The series is for children. Adults consider yourselves warned...you might re-discover a child within you! Scroll down for other articles in this series. 

Read, my child.  This is something children hear all the time. Sometimes it is said in a kind voice.  Sometimes it is a command. Sometimes it’s your mother or a teacher, almost begging you. 

It is not hard to understand. There are broadly three ways of learning.  The first is through experience.  It can be hard.  It might be painful.  And yet, you will learn.  The second is by observing the experiences of others.  The third is by reading about others’ experiences. 

Let’s take a simple example.  You know that if you put your hand into a roaring fire you’ll get burnt, right?  Suppose you’ve never seen a fire and want to find out what it feels like to touch a flame.  You put your hand in.  You get burnt.  Now had you seen someone try that trick earlier, you wouldn’t do it.  Finally, you would not try it if you had read what happens when you put a hand into fire. 

Books have information.  They have facts.  They teach us about a lot of things.  Even story books have lessons.  If you make a habit out of reading you will know a lot of things.  When you know a lot of things, you start to see patterns.  You make connections between one thing and another.  You learn how caterpillars become butterflies.  Later, you observe that things change and even people change.  Suddenly you realize that ‘metamorphosis’ is a word you can use when you talk about people. 

On the other hand not everyone likes to read.  Some like to run around the garden. Some like to talk with friends.  Some make kites.  Some make play houses.  Some children love dolls, some like to paint.  This world is made of all kinds of people with all kinds of interests and preferences. 

But have you ever stopped and wondered what books really are?  Are they really these rectangular-shaped things with pages that are numbered, with words and pictures?  Sure, they are – that’s a decent enough description of what we have come to understand to be ‘books’.  But if books are things containing information, things which educate us, then there are countless books without even one drop of ink and without numbered pages. 

A mango is a book.  Think about it.  If you take a raw mango, you can cut it up and you’ll find a seed in it.  If it’s the first mango you’ve ever seen.  You’ll wonder what that hard thing that’s at the core of the fruit is all about.  In time you’ll figure out.  If you had plucked this particular mango from a tree, you would most certainly have noticed that all mangoes are not of the same size.  If you had observed the tree closely over several weeks you would have noticed that the small ones grow in size and that they stop growing after a point.  Then you’ll notice that the skin changes color.  All this might make you want to sample mangoes of different size and color.  You’ll notice that there’s a difference in the taste.  If one is sour the other would be sour and sweet and a third would be just sweet. 

A mango is a book because it can be cut in so many ways.  Take a raw mango and you can think of it as a vegetable.  Even a ripe mango can go into a salad.  Then there's mango juice, mango achcharu, mango pickle, mango with salt and mango with chillie.  All kinds of mango species.  A books, yes, but perhaps even a library!  

The mango is a book or rather a chapter in a book called ‘The Mango Tree’.  ‘The Mango Tree’ is a book in a library called ‘Trees’. 

A kite is also a book.  A streamlet is a book.  A raindrop is a chapter.  So is a dew drop.  What the sun does to dew-drenched grass is a story. 

Here’s a tip.  If you think sitting inside the house with a book is boring, go outside and ‘read’ one of the books mentioned above.  Maybe when you realize that there are all kinds of books and all of them contain amazing stuff, you’ll return to the printed kind of book with a different mindset. 

For now, think of mangoes as a series of books.   

 Other articles in this series


Anonymous said...

Interesting... just like Malinda too can be a book. A very engaging book indeed. From you Malinda, I have learnt so much although you may not believe me. However I cannot READ you like a book always!You are one cool guy