If the high summer months are terrible for extreme rise in temperature, the bounties they offer in return are incomparable. No wonder, the month of Jaisthya, the second of the two summer months, is lovingly called 'madhumas'---a month of honey or a honeylike month. Honey is essence of sweetness or the ultimate sweetness. So the Bangalees have welcomed it as the month of mellow sweetness.
This Jaisthya, though, was not particularly marked for scorching heat as rains were predominant to keep the temperature under control. In fact, for decades this was the wettest ever Jaisthya. Scientists are of the opinion that the monsoon has started setting earlier than before. This appears to have extended the longevity of mellow sweetness over to the next month of Ashar. Even in the second week of what is known as the first month of monsoon here, the bounties Nature, for which Jaisthya earned the epithet of Madhumas, are found in profusion.
Now what makes the month of Jaisthya literally so specially sweeter is grounded in the fact that the finest of fruits satisfy the Bangalees' taste buds. Luscious litchi, succulent jamrul, juicy pineapple, delectable blackberry and the king of fruits mango ---all compete each other with their special flavour and taste. The national fruit, jackfruit also starts ripening although it has traditionally been a late comer and late leaver.
These seasonal fruits are indeed a treat. For years mangoes were artificially ripened and except Fajli and Ashwina, no other mangoes would be available after Jaisthya. Now some administrative measures have mostly been successful to stop this malpractice and many varieties are available well beyond Jaisthya. Also, the development of mangoes such as Amrapali through micropropagation or tissue culture has helped lengthen the mango season in this part of the world. The latest is that a variety has been developed that will bear fruits throughout the year.
The Japanese claim to have developed the world's priciest mango called Taiyo no Tomago (egg of the sun), Chennai boasts producing one of the world's finest mangoes, Alphonso. But those mangoes are so costly that few can afford those. Even then Rajshahi of Bangladesh and Malda of West Bengal have to their credit producing some of the most popular and finest mangoes the world has known.
It is good that the mango season is getting longer and the nation is getting ready for the all-season mangoes in the near future. The lingering of mellow sweetness could be further extended if the other prized fruits such as blackberry were given attention for micropropagation. Here is a fruit that is not only wholesome but also full of medicinal qualities on several counts. Litchi is being produced in many shapes and sizes and this fruit has got its season somewhat lengthened. Pineapple already has a longer season and, if anything, too much artificial production has deteriorated its quality. It must retain its quality in order to have its appeal back and get market.
All these are known fruits of the summer. There are a host of other mouth-watering fruits that few urban people know. One of the children's favourite fruits in the summer month was amjamun or amjam karkuna. A few bunches of fruits in the wild would look like a smaller prototype of blackberry when ripen. With the disappearance of unused lands full of herbs, shrubs and trees by the side of a homestead, this fruit has mostly become extinct.
Yet another treat was ---and may rarely exist today ---cane fruit called betfal. It is indeed a special treat. One who has tasted it will never forget the taste. Doua is still found in Dhaka's market but kau, another sweet and sour juicy fruit is unknown even to village children today. The horticulture department may try to revive all such traditional fruits so that the mellow sweetness becomes still mellower.