These are starfruit, or kamrak, and like all the goodies of the season, they are golden and juicy. Around eight years ago, a boy came up to our bungalow gate on a bicycle and asked the gardener if he could meet 'Aunty'. He said he had many fruit saplings for sale. Mithhoo made him wait at the gate, and came to ask me if I'd like to take a look. We needed to plant some fruit trees in the compound, so I said I would. Like most salesmen, the boy talked too much and tried my patience. He did have some interesting saplings, including starfruit, chikoo, litchi and hibiscus. He swore they were excellent, all of them. He was quite dramatic, wanting to make a good first impression, and he ended each declaration with 'Aunty!' Mithoo wasn’t very pleased. Once the boy went away, he told me he thought that 'Aunty Wala' talked too much.
We referred to him as 'Aunty' after that. The sales talk turned out to have been justified. All the saplings took root, grew well, and produced what he'd promised they would. 'Aunty' came by to check their progress, and sold me chrysanthemums. We grew exotic hibiscus: yellow, mauve and orange. The chikoo and guava plants did well. The star of the lot was the kamrak.
Mithoo by the Kamrak tree
The little thing grew quite well, and I ignored it, thinking it would be many years before it produced any fruit. It looked quite pretty as a young bush. Within two years of our planting it, we got fruits - and how! Every branch and bough seemed to hang with fruit. My friend Usha called it a 'teenage pregnancy' and asked me to take good care of the plant. The tree - actually hardly that yet - fruited twice a year after that first time. We had to add vertical supports to the boughs. You can see why, in the picture.
Every rainy season, the tree begins to look like a green cave. It is the best garden umbrella you could have. The area under it serves as a rest and recuperation outpost for weary indoor plants.