Wednesday, April 16, 2008

the miracle of the mango!

i used to be a really big fan of mangos until one day, some time ago, i ate a mango and broke out into hives, my throat closed up, and my lips and hands were swollen and itchy. tragically, i had developed an allergy to mangos and for years i enviously watched others consume mangos while avoiding them (mangos, not people) for fear of death by mango.

but because i missed the sweet succulence of a good mango, i would often sneak a taste -- only to break out into hives and gasp for air through a constricting windpipe, thus reminding myself that mangos were off limits and never to be eaten. it is torture to desire a fruit and not be able to eat them, particularly when they are such a universally loved fruit like mangos and when in season, everybody else is sinking their teeth into the beautiful red-orange flesh of a juicy, sticky mango.

throughout this time, mangos have constantly reminded me of my handicap. once, while in el salvador, i lived under a giant mango tree for several weeks and every morning the tree would taunt me by dropping its plump fruit on my tin roof as a means of waking me up. or, my parents would buy them by the crate and have them for dessert and forgetting my deadly allergy, offer me some to which i would be forced to refuse and to choose the lowly banana as an alternative.

imagine my fury when i discovered that senegal is abundant in mangos and part of my job would be growing, grafting, and pushing mangos. other volunteers spoke about how wonderful mango season is, some called it their favorite time of year and in the meantime, i pretended not to care and to favor the citrus season, while secretly crying tears of envy and fretting about how i could work with mangos and not eat them.

mango season has started recently and it has been painful to watch everybody feast on mangoes are are ONLY 350CFA a kilo. i've politely refused them numerous times, trying to figure out how to explain what will happen to me in wolof and fighting the temptation to grab one and eat it. in the meantime, i've been worried because everybody in my village wants mango trees but the only way to obtain seeds is to eat them. quite the conundrum.

then the other day, somebody gave me a mango and not wanting to reject a gift, i took it. i set it on my desk and for a day, the fruit with its tantalizing scent and color called out to me to be eaten. a few times i picked it up and sniffed it, trying to satiate my craving but this only made it worse, as upon touch i could tell it was at its peak of ripeness and ready to be consumed.

the standoff lasted about a day until i discovered that my bananas and precious avocados were infested with fruit flies and in my distraught desire for fresh fruit, grabbed the mango and a knife and butchered it, as it had been begging me to do. it was delicious and i didn't care if giving into the mango was the way i was going to exit the world until it was wholly consumed and i was picking its fibers out of my teeth. i waited for the allergic reaction in anxiety and fear for the next few hours -- BUT NOTHING HAPPENED!

have i miraculously been cured of my affliction? granted, the next day i had a pretty itchy and awful rash on my arms -- but hey, it might be heat rash. anyway, i'm too busy to care -- i have a few years of mango eating to make up for!

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