The mangoes have finally arrived, and they are as ripe as we remember them from last season. The ground is so red and the mangoes so yellow. Sometimes, it looks like we are treading in a field of flames. We are fruit-raiders. It’s hunger that drives us to the trees. It’s the sun that makes us feel blah and faint. A gang of zombies, we hear the call of laboring trees, begging us to devour their offspring–flesh, fluid, skin and all. Left. Right. Left. We march. Heedless of miserly neighbors, who would rather their mangoes rot than have us eat them with the solemnity of sacrifice.

Stones are thrown at us. Discarded brooms are flung at us. But we carry on, scaling fences, beating off bow-legged children, fending off pucker-faced grandmas, killing dogs, overturning water pots, frightening housewives.

After every raid, we gather at the broken-down cassava mill. And sit on the prickly grass. And pant like sickly dogs lapping up air.  And pile up the fruit in the center of our semi-circle. Often we are silent mostly because hunger has conspired with the heat to make our tongues swollen and sore.    A lizard usually appears on the rooftop of the mill. He creates such a clatter as he clambers down the wall of corrugated zinc sheets. When he falls down in the middle of our semi-circle, he nods and lingers and looks for a moment like he’s going to make a speech. But then he scurries off. And then the wind, passing through but staying for a playful while, flirting with the sweat on our boils and making us laugh. The sun having done its worst, is retreating and leaving behind the red afterglow of guilt.  And then the flies, attracted by the fragrance of the fruits and the ooze from our bruises, both old and new. As I mentioned already, we are boily boys and pimply too. But on a day like this, life is not all together bad. And if we are going to have a mill-side meal of mangoes, heck, the flies are welcome too.

Source of Photo: Rhys Rodgers

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