The Fruit Seller

In the bustling metropolises of today, the greatest sound you hear are the blaring horns and the noise of the traffic. But I remember when Delhi was a city full of the welcoming cries of the Street Sellers, the ”Wallah’s.

I remember very clearly the sound of the Sabzi walla. It went :

Sabzzzi le lo-o-o !!!

And then he would out the names of each of the vegetables he was carrying that day. And the shouts of Ande (eggs) wallah. Who had a particularily rough relationship with my mother. Especially in summer when a lot of the eggs had to be returned as they were ion the verge of hatching. I have always wondered why modern eggs – even the ‘Organically fed and free to roam and allowed to indulge in the natural behaviours’ ones never actually threaten to hatch.  There was even the “Gold wallah’, the ‘Sonhar’. that would remake your gold jewelry,. As went by proudly on his newly acquired bicycle shouting “Sonhar hai, Sone ka kaam karwa lo-o-o-o”.

We used to have the vegetable seller and the fruit seller, all come to the house, and my mother would sit and argue with them. Bargain with them fiercly, as would they. But in the process she knew where their families lived, what village they came from and how things were in the village. Bargaining was an act of great individuality for her, as well as a social intercourse.  The first time I took her to one of the emerging supermarkets in India, she hated it. She hated prices being fixed and stamped over the goods. She hated check out counters. She missed the social interaction with her Fruit Seller, her Sabzi Walla, her Ande Walla etc.

When my mother passd away, rather suddenly, I had been away from our family house for many many years. I went back and an went through all the rites, and stood by my greiving family, determined now to take charge and be a comfort to all, except myself. I was after all the son, and expected to be stoic.

Two days later there was a call of the Fruit Seller, and I walked out of the house. There was an old man with a whole basket of fruit, and he asked for my mother. I remember him being thin and with a great white moustache and sunburnt wrinkled skin. I told her she had died, and he sat under the tree. Sad and contemplative..

“She was a great lady” He said “and who are you ?”

“I am her Son” I said.

He beckoned me towards him. Put his hand on my shoulder, and told me so much about me. About all my mother’s dreams for me, of how much she had missed me when I was away in London.

And for the frst time since I heard the news of my Mother’s death I broke. I put my head on this complete strangers shoulder and sobbed my heart out as he comforted me.
My mother and the fruit seller. How much must they have got to know each other just through the act of bargaining over apples ?


62 thoughts on “The Fruit Seller

  1. Why does it surprise you so? This connect across a social lakshman rekha? It is only human to connect, to understand and to know.

  2. Very poignant last lines. And so true of the relationships we build with complete strangers over time. Reminded me of my fruit wallah, who does not come any more. Old with a big white mustache..

  3. Wonderful and so touching. A village metro like Chennai has still quiet a few of species.Weo still have a flower seller who still remebers vividly how we went to hospital for delivery of my 34 year old. We have attended several weddings/deaths in all their houses. Medicines, provisions are delivered at home even today. You are right- the malls have destroyed all this. Social contacts have reduced and destroyed our tolerance, understanding and support for the poor too.

  4. sir an amazing blog shared..thanks and you have touched my heart!! supreet

  5. It is not actually about the fruit vendor, we all need someone to talk to who will not in turn judge us and just be happy that we share something with them, because to the listener we tell them, “You are human” by doing so. We all love our parents but most often the “miss you” that our parents tell us does not reach us. When you sit back and think of it, a wall like the sabziwalla whose judgment does not matter to our mothers is perhaps the only reciprocator left.

  6. beautiful writing…. its irony of modern world that we are able to connect with people around the world but getting far from people we see everyday. A person who knows how to keep it balanced is a magician

  7. ∆˚∆ Shekhar

    Undoubtedly you are a fantastic story teller,a great observer,a great thinker and a fine human being. The specialty of Shekhar Kapur’s expression is –Simple, Understandable, very Emotional, Touchy. In other words, it may be your real life incident but you express in such a way that it becomes every one’s real life incidence.
    Here I agree with you ,because of super market concept, the Wallas concepts are being missed today. But I still support Wallas-Kiranewalla,Raddiwalla,Dudhwalla…..
    One thing I have experienced Shekhar, that people are physically disappeared but they are always around us .We can feel their presence, whenever we are in need.I strongly believe that your mother is still with you. Feel her presence…
    Thanks for sharing .I admire the simplicity of your presentations. It is superb..Keep sharing.
    Love you..

  8. Shekhar ji

    Undoubtedly you are a great observer, a great thinker and a fine human being. The specialty of your expression is – Simple, Understandable, very Emotional – which I admire. In other words, it may be your real life incident but you express in such a way that it becomes every one’s real life incidence – Art of storytelling…
    Here I agree with you ,because of super market concept, the “Wallas” concepts are being missed today.
    Thanks for sharing.


  9. Dear Shekhar Kapoor

    I am Cyrus here hope this mail finds you in the best of your times.
    I am on search of one of your serial story in which you acted. In that story you are giving a bag of money to people for year or so and tell them you can take as much money you want. Then give them a warning that next when i give it to some one else an if he uses it there are chances that any previous user can die it can die. So remember whenever you will take the money some previous user is going to die. So this is how the story goes can’t remember well since this serial I had seen it on Doordarshan when I was 15 years or so. I would like to see it on You tube again or at least get in touch with the name of the story.
    I will be glad to see story again if you choose to.

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