I was prepping a mango a few weeks ago for writing break snacking, slicing it into thirds, the way it was taught to me, the way my family cuts mangoes: take the fruit in your hand, hold it firmly, and slice above the pit, starting from where the stalk was. Slice as close to the pit as you can, smoothly, steadily, careful not to injure your fingers. Do the same on the other side. Into the fridge the fruit goes for a few minutes; in the tropical heat of my beloved Philippines, cold sliced mangoes were one of the the best treats.
I’d been taking a break while I figured out how to structure a final project due quite soon. The mango kept distracting me, the flavours and the smells and the textures overwhelming me with memories until I had to pause for a moment, and write to let it out.
I was, I think, fifteen or so. Hanging out with one of my favourite cousins at my grandparents’ place in Pontevedra, Negros Occidental, sorely tempted by the spread of mangoes lola had set aside to sell later, row upon row of fruit lit up by the languid late afternoon sun, the smell of ripe mangoes, lush and intoxicating, hanging heavy in the Philippine summer air. We snuck one out and ran, overflowing with giggles, to the grove of trees in the back of the house, hiding behind a punso. We murmured our tabi-tabis, peeled open that mango, small but beautifully ripe, taking turns biting into it, sticky golden juice running down our chins and seeping into our skins, forever stained into our memories.
Oh my lord, I cannot wait to go home and eat mangoes in the sun again.