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Sapota also called Chiku
by Jasti Victor
5/22/2010 / Short Stories
Getting down from the rickshaw at the bus station Christy saw Pandian first, and terror stricken, hid behind a shop. Pandian is the Hench man of GL, a loan shark, who had lent Rs. 50,000/- to her father, exactly six months back and was actually the main culprit for her father to become an incurable alcoholic. She had met Pandian about three months back, when her father could not pay the interst in time. It was a horrific experience for the young teenager and her mild soft spoken mother, as Pandian used vile and threatening language that these two had never heard in their life.
Her father George David, an ex serviceman, had been allotted six acres of land as per the Government policy for the soldiers rehabilitation, about forty km away from Chennai. He was successful in growing vegetables and unlike others became comfortable eking out his livelihood. A cart road that passed right in front of his house was dug up to be made an all weather road and that's when his troubles started. Unable to transport his produce, George fell a victim to Pandian's offer to sell his vegetables. In the beginning he used to pay cash and picked up the vegetables from the farm, and then after gaining his confidence slowly started bringing in seed and fertilizer in exchange for cash, and after sometime citing low selling prices started lending money, first at a nominal interest and then at an exorbitant rate of interest, which resulted in George firmly getting entangled in the clutches of the loan shark.
With subsidized liquor and with practically no seed, the six acre farm was on the brink of being usurped by Pandian on behalf of GL, when Christy his only child, who finished her graduation, had come home. Her mother, Lily George apprised Christy of the situation and they both decided that the best option was to sell the farm for whatever it is worth and move out to Chennai and look out for a job.
"We'll put it in prayer," said her mother "For Jesus Christ has His plans for His children and He will definitely show us a way."
The morning after, as she was walking through the farm, she came across a group of Sapota trees at the end of the farm. The branches were so heavy with fruits that they were within reach of her and she could not resist plucking a few of them, careful not to let the milk white secretion fall on her clothes. As they were very hard and unripe she kept it in a basket and entirely forgot about it. Only after three days, when the house was filled with the sweet aroma of the fruit that Christy tasted one, which was sweet and with an exceptionally malty flavor that she immediately thought of her friend Veronica D'silva, who loves this fruit.
"Mom, tomorrow morning I'll take some to Veronica as she likes it very much and also ask her about my job prospect."
It was when she was going to Veronica's house that she encountered Pandian.
"Veronica, never in my life was I so badly stricken with fear, as today seeing that despicable man."
"Christy, forget that fellow, do tell me what your plans are for the future?"
"I don't see a bright future, now that I have to lookout for a job, so no post graduation for me."
"Wow, don't talk like that. You have a very bright future. You are the top ranking student in the class and if you say no to post graduation, what about us?"
Christy told her of what all had happened.
"Dad will be back anytime now," said Veronica. "He is now working as the General Manager for the Seven Star Consortium, a chain of seven star hotels world wide. We'll ask his opinion."
"Girls I don't see a bright future if you start your career as a raw graduate.What is this?"
Both of them looked at him, startled, as he ate the Sapota, the fruit which Christy bought for Veronica. Seeing the bewildered look, at Veronica's father's face, Christy felt cold all over.
"Christy, where did you get this?"
"Dad, please don't shout, you are scaring Christy."
"Sweetheart, this is a rare type of Sapota. This is what we are looking for."
"Daddy, this is Sapota from Christy's farm."
"Manilkara zapota commonly called Sapodilla was introduced to the Philippines during Spanish colonization and this has the same taste as what we had tasted out there. How many trees are there and did you sell this to anyone?"
"I don't know how the trees got planted there, but it was only few days back that I saw it. No, we never sold any of these. Even mom does not know about these fruits."
"Why don't we visit your farm now?"
"Yes, now itself."
"Mr. George do you know who planted these Sapota plants?"
"These trees were a part of a bigger plantation adjacent to our farm. I heard that sometime back, before India's independence all these belonged to a Spanish lady who married an English doctor. She was the one who planted all those exotic trees, but now it is owned by a real estate developer. The area stretches to over twenty five acres."
"Buy it Mr. George. Money is no problem, I'll arrange it. We will recover it within three months."
Within six months, the six acre farm had become thirty one acres, and is now fenced and well guarded. Though the farm vegetables are most sought after in Chennai's five star hotels, Christy's face lights up whenever a consignment is dispatched directly to the airport, marked Burj Al Arab and Town House Galleria.
Victor Jasti lives in India and is passionate about writing short stories based on the Bible and real incidents. He also writes Christian fiction and poetry. Five of his poems were published in Temporal Currents compiled by an American author, Ms. Christine Tricarico.
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