It was a Saturday. As usual, Anand was happy as the school was closed and he could take a long walk along the river to the mango orchard.
Unlike other children, he loved to spend time alone on the riverbanks and in the shade of mango trees, which stood in a row behind an iron-mesh fence.
He knew he could never afford to buy any mangoes. So, he was content with the smell of the ripening fruit.
One day, the owner of the orchard, Karim, noticed Anand sitting quietly by the river and gazing at the mango trees.
Karim went up to him and asked, “Would you like to taste one?”
“Umm, yes! But I do not have any money to buy the mangoes,” Anand said.
“It is alright. You can take one free of cost.”
Karim opened the gate and let Anand in.
The boy was amazed. He could not believe he was inside the orchard.
“I like mangoes, but my parents are too poor to afford any. They work really hard to keep me in school. They want me to study and become a good man,” said Anand.
Karim listened carefully to the little buy.
“It doesn’t sound like your parents are poor. They may just want you to know there are better ways to earn something,” Karim said.
“What do you mean?”
“Here, take it,” Karim plucked a mango and gave it to Anand.
Eat the mango at home and bring me its seed.
Anand did as told by the orchardist.
The next morning, he came to see Karim.
“Here is the seed.”
“Very good,” answered Karim.
“Now, plant it at that corner of my orchard and help it grow. I will leave the gate open for you, but you can have no more free mangoes.”
Anand planted the seed and watered it.
He was happy, but he didn’t quite understand what he was supposed to do now.
He now began visiting the orchard regularly and kept watering the seed, doing exactly what Karim was doing with his trees.
Soon, a seedling appeared from the seed.
Anand was happy. He showed it to Karim.
“Yes, you are doing a good job,” Karim told the little boy.
Time passed. The seedling grew into a plant.
Then, one Saturday morning, Karim was waiting for Anand at the gate.
“Come quickly,” Karim said.
He showed Anand his plant. “See,” he pointed towards a tiny mango that had appeared on the plant.
“Is this a mango?” asked Anand, not able to believe what he was seeing.
“Yes, this is your mango,” said Karim.
Anand hugged him tightly.
“Since your hard work has given my orchard a new mango tree, I offer you any grown tree and all its mangoes in exchange.”
“Really?” asked Anand.
“I will take that one.” Anand picked the one that was easily visible from the banks of the river where he used to sit.
“This tree is yours from now on. You can have all its fruit.”
Anand picked a few mangoes from his tree and went home.
“Thank you,” Anand said to Karim as he left.