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Papaya baggage..!
By Robert Clements
It was my neighbor who sent me a papaya yesterday which made me remember the papayas of my childhood: "Bob, will you have a piece of papaya?"

"No!" I nearly scream and watch the astonishment on the faces of the others in the room at my reaction.

"Mango's maybe, apples okay but never ever a papaya."

"And why?" asks a booming voice from across the room, "Do you have this aversion for papaya?"

I smile at him and realize I've hurt the feelings of a true papaya lover.

"Well, my childhood was spent in the midst of papaya trees."

"Never knew you grew up in the forests Bob, a Tarzan aren't you?"

"Not really" I tell him, "no jungle did I grow up in but papaya trees grew all around my house and in all the houses in the neighbourhood, and with so many trees bearing the fruit there was papaya on the table everyday!"

"Oh you lucky man," booms the same voice and I swear I can see him drool.

"Not so lucky, when there's papaya in everything you eat. There was some for breakfast, raw ones in the curry and a full one for tea, there were even pieces, delicately carved for desert"

"But why was there so much served at one time?" asks someone else in the room.

"I guess they grew as fast as we ate them."

"Why didn't you give some away?" asks the same booming voice, and there is longing in his eyes.

"Yes," I say, and my thoughts go back to those years of my childhood," I do remember trying to give them away. "I loaded a basket with a dozen of the fruit and cycled over to a friends place. His mother came out and took the papayas from my bike and returned in a while carrying papayas from their own tree."

"I guess you've really had your share of papayas," says a sweet young thing at my elbow. "That's what I thought till last year. I went to visit an old man in a government hospital. "Uncle," I asked him as we chatted, is there anything I can get for you? His eyes lighted up and I heard him mumble the word 'papaya."

"Ha, ha, ha!" laughs booming voice, across the room.

"Yes, you can laugh at the irony, because there were no papayas in the market, in the small shops or even with the roadside vendors I went back to his bed in the hospital with an empty hand."

"You must have missed your grove of papaya trees that day?"

"Yes, I did."

"So a toast to those papaya trees!" says the voice triumphantly.

I take the piece of fruit and raise it to the others in the room and my mind goes back to those trees of my childhood: Somehow the piece of papaya tastes good and I wave to the trees of my childhood with a smile as they wave happily back at me.

There's lots of baggage from our childhood we need to get rid off just as my papaya baggage had been finally gotten rid off..!

News Updated at : Friday, June 28, 2013
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