Indulging in the forbidden

Deep red and crimson with splashes of white, green, it's "apples, apples everywhere."

Some childhood fantasies and habits remain even after one grows up. They keep popping up now and then, urging us to indulge in what the adult world perceives as stupid, puerile or even asinine. But to the person who immerses himself in this “retrieved world of innocence and bliss,” it is a revisit, albeit a fleeting one, to bygone days of playfulness and childish pranks.

One of my childhood hangovers is an irresistible urge to pluck fruit or anything resembling them from plants or trees. It is of no consequence to me whether they are edible or not. When I see them, my hands involuntarily get ready to extend themselves, with my fingers ready for that swift ‘twist and pull’ action. Only the fear of reprisal makes me desist from doing this.

I still remember the lime plant in the backyard of my grandmother’s house which used to abound with the yellow citrus fruit. When nobody was looking, my hands would furtively do their job, eyes and ears alert for any adult sounds.

So, when my son tells me that we are going ‘apple picking’ at a farm in Canada where I can pluck away to my heart’s content, all for free, I am literally on the empyrean heights of joy. The ‘ccc-rrr-unch of the teeth sinking into a freshly plucked juicy apple’ has at last become a reality. As the car enters the gates of Wagner Farms near Tecumseh in Ontario State, I peer forward in anticipation. 

The driveway leads to the apple orchard. Short in stature, branches drooping with apples, the serried beauties immediately exercise a thaumaturgic effect on me. Deep red, crimson with splashes of white, pale red, green, it’s “apples, apples everywhere, and everything to eat.” And no chemicals or pesticides sprayed on them. No wax coating. Fresh, luscious and pure!

I pluck away like one possessed, unmindful of my wife’s glares and reprimands and eat my fill. The grass beneath is covered with fallen apples and can get squashed under careless feet. At long last, I am getting to realise at least one childhood dream. I am a child in the garden of innocence, with no worries, no inhibitions, nothing to blight this cocoon of unalloyed enjoyment. My wife gives up and wanders away.

I fill the cover, thoughtfully given at the counter, with more apples to take home. The gracious old lady at the counter chats with me about India and Bengaluru and waives charges for the takeaways too. She apologises for it not being a baking day and assures me that apple strudel will be available the day after if I can go again, which unfortunately I cannot.
I ask her about the fallen apples. “It will be sold by the bushels to apple cider manufacturers,” she replies. The westering sun casts its glow upon this slice of Eden as I, eyes, stomach and mind satiated, exit from a childhood dreamland and reenter this world.

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