Birthday Mango

Hold on

Activated - - FRONT PAGE - By Anna Per­lini Anna Per­lini is a co­founder of Per un Mondo Migliore, 1 a hu­man­i­tar­ian or­ga­ni­za­tion ac­tive in the Balkans since 1995.

My son Jonathan was born in a small In­dian vil­lage, dur­ing the time my hus­band and I were serv­ing there as vol­un­teers. Like many In­dian kids, he grew up eat­ing rice, dahl, cha­p­atis, and the in­cred­i­ble, col­or­ful va­ri­ety of trop­i­cal fruit avail­able at ev­ery street cor­ner.

Al­though he wasn't yet five when we moved back to Europe, it took him a while to get ad­justed to the new en­vi­ron­ment and par­tic­u­larly the new foods. At first, he looked very sus­pi­ciously at and dis­sected ev­ery bit of pasta on his plate. He had al­ways been a slow eater, but he surely took his time to em­brace Ital­ian cui­sine! Even­tu­ally, his mem­o­ries of In­dia and In­dian food did fade. In those days, glob­al­iza­tion hadn't quite kicked in yet, and the only pro­duce avail­able in Ital­ian su­per­mar­kets was sea­sonal Ital­ian pro­duce.

How­ever, pass­ing by a newly opened del­i­ca­cies store one day, I spot­ted a mango! It was quite ex­pen­sive, but Jonathan's 11th birthday was just around the cor­ner, and I thought it would be such a great treat for him to get to sa­vor one of his fa­vorite early child­hood fruits.

I bought and pack­aged the mango, and in­vited my pre­teen son for a walk. Then we stopped on a bench and I solemnly pre­sented my gift, telling him it would bring back mem­o­ries from the past. Jonathan slowly opened the pack­age and held the col­or­ful mango in his hands for what seemed like a long time. No re­ac­tion.

“Mom, I re­ally can't re­mem­ber. Sorry.”

I felt a bit dis­ap­pointed. “Well, you should still try it. I prom­ise you, you loved them when you were small.” With the same sus­pi­cious look he'd given his first Ital­ian dishes years be­fore, Jonathan took a small bite. Then an­other one, then more. Still, no re­ac­tion. Then … the seed ap­peared, and Jonathan's eyes lit up.

“Mom, now I re­mem­ber! I do! I re­mem­ber how fun it was suck­ing on the seed!” And along with that mem­ory, many more started rush­ing through this thinker of a boy. We talked and talked, rem­i­nisc­ing on other events and mem­o­ries from the past.

From this episode with my son, I re­mem­ber think­ing how im­por­tant it is to hold on just a bit longer when things don't seem to click or make sense. As a mother, it was an­other con­fir­ma­tion that what­ever we sow in our chil­dren's youngest years will never be for­got­ten. It might seem like it is at times … but wait till they get to the seed!

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