We know that Grajons grow their own fruits and vegetables. We also know that these are supposed to be pretty exotic. Some of them are losing their exoticism though because of humans encroaching into Grajon territory and harvesting the fields. The older generation people would not have tasted fruits like strawberries, lychees, kiwis or dragon fruits earlier. Now with the world shrinking, these fruits which were consumed by the locals in their countries are now being consumed by all. Just to say that these were some of the exotic fruits that Grajons were growing – a few people started eating them and when they liked it, started exporting them. The ever accommodating Grajons then decided to give up on these fruits so that the humans could have them and then, they started growing alternate fruits and vegetables then, which humans had still not tasted.
Shirke was very young when this ban was introduced. He absolutely absolutely loved strawberries. He kicked up a huge fuss when he heard about the ban. He argued loudly with his parents on the unfairness of it all. That was when they threw up their hands and took him before the Council of the Grajonic Elders. This was something similar to our government. However, the difference was that they were accessible to the general public and actually listened to their woes and complaints and tried to redress them.
Shirke tried seeing if crying or persuasion or a mixture of both could work in lifting the ban but the Grajon elders were firm in their decision. However, seeing the passion with which this small child spoke, they amended the ban to qualify that Grajons could eat strawberries if they were offered some by humans. This was such a cruel caveat put in only to satisfy Shirke, since the elders knew that there was absolutely no way that a human and Grajon could be friends and even if they were, there was no way a human would offer strawberries, which had become a huge favourite with the humans, to a Grajon.
Shirke still remembered the taste of strawberries longingly and wondered if there was someway he could get his hands on a few. Every year, he saw the fat, juicy strawberries in the fields and his mouth watered but there was really nothing he could do to eat even one. Even he did not have the guts to break the ban. Nobody broke the ban or the law, even though they didn’t know the punishment that would be meted out. It was just the way they were – peaceful, easy-going and law-abiding.
Summer had started. The days were getting warmer and longer. It was then, one day that Megha set up a message for Shirke in the evening on her apartment terrace. They had agreed that she would leave a huge, white sheet on her terrace if she wanted to speak to him, which he could see on the way back from school and stop over for a quick chat. Shirke was surprised to see the white sheet. Megha had never reached out to him before. He (along with Minok, of course) gently wafted down to her apartment terrace and stamped gently on the floor thrice (their agreed signal).
Megha came up almost immediately with the mega-eye in place. After exchanging quick pleasantries, she said that her family were going on a summer vacation to Mahabaleshwar and she was wondering if Shirke and Minok could visit her there since she was sure to get bored. They agreed to do so in the next 2-3 days. It seemed like such an anti-climax.
So, one day after school, they decided to visit her and travelled using the co-ordinates that she had shared. When they reached, Megha told them that this was her parents’ farmhouse and that Shirke and Minok had come at the perfect time since her parents had stepped out for a quick shopping trip. She then asked them if they would like to visit the farm. Both of them agreed half-heartedly since they knew that humans grew cabbages and cauliflowers and other such boring, yucky stuff.
Megha led them under the green shield which was spread over the fields like a greenhouse and both Shirke and Minok were struck dumb to see rows and rows of strawberries. It was because of the green shield that they had missed seeing these when they had levitated through the air to reach Megha’s farmhouse. This was when Megha uttered the words that were better than music “We grow strawberries – we have acres of land passed on by our ancestors. Both of you can eat as many as you can but you cannot take any away.” Oh ! The absolute delight that swept over the Grajons – with a quick word of thanks, they dived into the strawberry fields. Picking a few from each shrub, they made their way across the acres until they literally were stuffed. Their hands and mouths were red and their faces were sticky with the juice. There were no thoughts of cleaning the fruits. They were both in food heaven of the highest order. Megha was surprised to see them both weeping tears of joy and satisfaction. It was then that they explained the ban to her.
Sometimes friends are like that – they seem to know instinctively what you want, without you having to say a word. They don’t just stop with knowing, they give you those things and in such a casual manner, that you never realise how great a gift they have given and you don’t even get around to properly thanking them. May their tribe increase.