When I was young, living in the staff quarter of a rural college south of Mongolian steppe, I often heard fruit stories from my mother’s friends who had migrated from the south. My favorite bits were oranges knocking on your shoulder, waking up with olives about to jump into your mouth, feeding on lychee while sitting on a tree branch. Siva jyothi’s post about a cool day under a loaded lemon tree reminds me of those stories and how I imagined those fruitful pictures.
For some mysterious reasons, the stories were often told during the winter time when fruit and vegetables were scarce. In those days, transportation was inadequate and hot houses were rare. It was no surprise that our fruit and veggie supplies were nonexistence once the cold wind started to blow from Mongolia and Siberia. The diligent local people do all kinds of salted veggies, pickled fruit, and tomato sauce in autumn to last the whole winter until April of the next year. It’s a big operation that usually takes two weeks to complete and the whole neighborhood would join in to rent a huge container as tall as an adult and as big as a small room.
When I read books on sailors of the 17th or 18th century, who went without fresh fruit or veggies for months and ended up got sick with scurvy, I often wondered why they didn’t bring pickled produce with them. And on those ships, fights often broke out more easily for fruit rations than anything else, and I could understand that more than anything else.
Once somebody in our three story building traveled back from a business trip to the tropical area and brought back two pineapples. He was trying to consume them in the privacy of his home with his wife and his kids. The pineapples were quite ripe and soft with juice starting to leak out and the man didn’t take care to wrap them very tightly. When he walked back to the building, his whole body and his luggage smelled of pineapple. This was right before the dinner time and children were playing here and there around the building, waiting for their mothers to call them to their meal. Everybody was hungry. And the smell of the exotic fruit just intoxicated several boys that happened to meet him right outside of the building. The news spread quickly. Soon, a whole gang of children from the neighborhood just came to his door and refused to leave. The parents of these children came too. Everybody stared at the man and asked to share a piece. If the man didn’t hand over his fruits, he could be in trouble. It’s so unfair to the man, but fairness was not the first thing in the mind of the mob that had not eaten anything fresh for several months. And sure enough the mob justice was carried out swiftly and the two pineapples were cut up with a kitchen knife. Minutes later, it’s all gone. The man’s two kids were in tears, but they couldn’t do anything other than boiling the pineapple skin to make some “pineapple juice”.