Mussami juice was something that figured on hospital diets when I was a child. For years my mother associated it with illness! Whenever Dr. Hingorani visited and prescribed juice, it meant mussami juice. There wasn't anything more fancy - packaged or unpackaged - available in those days. Those fruits weren't like the hybrids we get today; they were full of fibre and seeds, just as God made them.
It was a chore to extract juice from them. For some reason, wedding guests used to get them in traditional goody bags or Thamboolam. Those days, the mussami -saathukudi in Tamil - used to taste more bitter than sweet. Our eldest brother-in-law was the only person who really enjoyed drinking that juice.
Now I find all my childhood tastes reversed. I've started liking home-made white unsalted butter. When we were children, home-made butter was such a punishment, while Amul Butter was so yellow and salty and so desirable!! Mohan and I are enjoying this bittersweet tough old juice from our home-grown mussamis much more than the smooth juice made from bought fruit. We're growing up? Or old?
The gardener is ready to harvest the fruits of his labour. Bittersweet was the goodbye I said to the garden I loved for so many years, but how sweet it is to savour what someone planted many years ago in the garden I love today.
Bittersweet, all these fire ants on the tree? I don't know and don't want to find out!