“What’s jamun in English?” I was once asked. I didn’t know the answer then, and I still do not know the answer now, except that perhaps one can classify them as berries? My earliest memory of jamun is an image of my late aunty in Karachi, who had been diabetic most of her life, and we’re told—as young kids eager to finish up her jamuns—that this fruit is for people who have ‘sugar’. People simply didn’t say diabetes back then.
And jamuns always remind me of lazy summer afternoons.
And now, jamuns will remind me of my summer days in Hyderabad, and of how I can eat to my heart’s content without being reminded that it’s for people with sugar.
So I hop on the motorcycle behind Masood one morning, and we drive on the road that leads to Hyderabad University. It is somewhere along this road that the farmers sell their freshly-harvested jamuns.
I love this fruit! Originally a local fruit of the Indian subcontinent and neighboring South Asian countries, jamun trees are now being planted in the USA and Brazil. This fruit has absolutely no trace of sucrose, they say, making it the only fruit with minimum calories. This sweet and sour fruit is widely used to treat diabetes, diarrhea and even ringworms!
Anyway, so we spot this young fellow, not more than sixteen years old, sitting next to a couple of baskets of jamuns that glistens beautifully under the summer sun.
He hands us a plastic bag which, by the way, will be completely banned throughout the city starting tomorrow. We pick the best-looking ones and fill the bag.
We said we’ll buy a kilo. He begins to take some jamuns out of the bag when the right side of the weighing scale dipped lower than the left.
We ask him to replace the jamuns back into the bag. What’s a few more jamuns? He wasn’t giving us any discount after all.
He reluctantly puts back half of what he took out. We paid him, and left with a bagful of luscious, juicy purple goodness.
And then we stopped to buy some mangoes too!