It’s raining in Dubai right now and while it’s still not full blown rain like in the tropics (because duh, this is not the tropics…), we’re happy with the cooler weather, gray skies and little pitter patters here and there.
If only I brought an umbrella on my commute to work today though.
Does it occur to you how rain not only makes it harder to get off from bed but also makes you extra nostalgic?
I think it’s the lanzones that did this. 19 years living outside my birth country and then I feel I’ve been missing out on some fruits that can only grow there. Mind you, Dubai does a great job of importing all sorts of fruits and vegetables from all over the world. There’s really no “season” as to what fruits are available. The fruits come from the north and south hemisphere, alternating the supply so we never ran out.
We’re pretty lucky.
So back to the lanzones (langsat in Thailand/Malaysia) and the rain. There are certain smell or scene that can bring us back to the past. And then there are certain fruits (food) too, of course. Persimmons remind me of the first friend I made during my first day in Japan. Lanzones, on the other hand reminds me of my more younger, naughtier days.
I used to climb trees, a lot, including tall coconut trees. I was a tomboy while growing up. I never wore skirts for that reason (climbing trees).
There was a lanzones tree on the other side of the fence where we lived when I was about 10 or 11. The tree was so robust that the branches were “overflowing” to our side. My mother always told me as I look at the tree with lots of fruit in it (probably with a sparkle in my eye), “never climb that tree! The old lady (owner) is very cross!”
The fruits would just fall off on our side, as the owner seems to not have any interest harvesting them. But then, they didn’t want to give it to others too. So many children from my neighborhood have attempted to climb it but they were always caught. The old lady shook the tree until one of the boys fell or I heard she threw something to one of the children until he came down and then reported him to his parents. Needless to say, no one was really successful even if the tree was pretty easy to climb and the old woman wasn’t there always, just a few times during the day.
How can you resist THIS?
The tree was still brimming with luscious fruit and it’s supposed to be easy to take, especially on our side of the fence where the branches stick out as if inviting to partake. It was really easy but they all had a flaw in their strategy – they all tried to climb on broad daylight.
It was a rainy morning so people were lingering extra in bed. I always wake up before the sun rises since I started school and more so when I was 10 when I started cooking rice in our makeshift kitchen outside, no electric rice cooker, only firewood! It was dark, so I made my move. The climb, as I had assumed, was easy. A little bit slippery from the rain, but nothing impossible. The branches that stuck out were pretty strong to hold my small structure. I didn’t mind the drizzle and sat on one of the branches and ate away the fruits within my reach. It was like finding a treasure.
Finally the fruits that were begging to be eaten have found justice! (Never mind in the real world I would be called a fruit thief!)
I stayed there for a few minutes more without realizing that the sun waits for no man and it rose and suddenly, the world was bright again! And the rain has stopped. The old woman has woken up too and is now pacing at her backyard, right below the tree!
I stayed still for as long as I can, praying she will not look up and at the same time, thinking so hard of a strategy to get down without being caught. The black ants were not crawling in my feet because I was still – this fruit is very sweet and black ants flock to have their share of the goodness. I was ready to give up, whatever happens, even if the old lady report me to my parents, I was already satisfied with my loot anyway…and the freaking ANTS.
Some prayers are truly, truly answered.
One of the old lady’s daughter called her from inside the house and she got in. The moment she did that, I slid my way through the branches, got down as fast as I can while carefully holding the bunch I hid in my chest, under my shirt which I knotted to make a big pocket…
That said, I never repeated it again. The overripe fruits still kept on falling and the old lady still did not invite anyone to take some from the tree even if she wasn’t really interested in it. Gah! Why so mean??
Isn’t there a law that if the tree branches (with fruits) out to your neighbor’s territory, it’s theirs? I swear I read it somewhere..:)
That was a long time ago but I still remember it like it was yesterday, especially if I see lanzones in the stores! Of course, I buy it every time and smile when I eat it!
It’s been a while since I blogged and it took some rain to be able to write again…only to declare I’ve been a fruit thief..ah, never mind, I know you all have some dark secrets too!