The one fruit that I am super sure was present in the splendid and perfect garden of Eden is the mango! Even ahead of the apple, which is so often used to depict the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. I know for certain that paradise would have been incomplete without mangoes.
I know for certain that paradise would have been incomplete without mangoes.
Mangoes symbolize fertility and abundance. They have a richness and a succulence to them; the extraordinary beauty of their freshness is unassailable, undeniable; they carry a silent pride in their ripeness. As they sit in their perfection in my fruit bowl I am reminded of God’s love, care, endless mercy, focused attention on each of us, His power, His creativity, His knowledge, His mastery of art and science, His ability to use the simple to astound us.
Yes, all of this for an ordinary mango.
In my extended family, mangoes are a communal affair. We buy them by the basket, in 80s and 100s. I can categorically say that there is no female member of my extended family that is not utterly in love with mangoes. We do not just eat 1 or 2 per sitting, nay, more like 4 or 5. Even our newest addition participates – partaking and appreciating this fruit through his mother’s milk; we anticipate, observe and discuss the multiple manifestations of his satisfaction and gratitude.
Mangoes, like Sunday lunch, draw us all to the table in unison as one body; a circle of women, congregating towards a higher purpose. First individuals, one after the other, then in pairs, and the stragglers in ones once again. We do not partake of this communion in a hurry; No, we tarry. We try our best to make conversation between bites, sucks, licks, all with closed eyes. We take pride in reducing a fat juicy mango to its bear bald stringy faded seed. Some come with knives, all with clean hands. Some look for hard ones, others for soft ones, all turning deaf ears to the admonishment to “touch and take”.
My family is partial to “Enugu Mangoes” so called because it is sourced from Enugu where my mother grew up. Most of us eat this mango in the same way, with a knife – we cut the top half, then munch; cut the button half, then munch; cut the rind around the middle, being careful to avoid the belly button, then munch. Once we are done with the skin, it is time for the meat, and we go for it; (please excuse me, I’m still talking about mangoes here); sucking once, and then again and again, trying to capture all of the juice, including the ones running down our hands; expertly flipping it from head to the tail, careful that it doesn’t escape from our hands onto our dress or worse still the floor.
Only me and siblings, the Lagos cousins call it Enugu mangoes, because to my cousins, who grew up in Enugu, it is just plainly mangoes, no need for qualifications.
I personally, now mainly only eat sheri mangoes as my granny in her steadfast doting weaned me off Enugu mangoes. Since I was a child, it seemed that my granny’s sole mission was to overwhelm me with all the things I liked. Upon hearing I fancied a thing, she would bombard me with it, such that the distance between us was an inconsequential matter in the face of her love, devotion and determination. My love for Enugu mangoes waned, but not before I infected all my friends in Lagos with Enugu mango frenzy. And so every mango season, we import mangoes from Enugu in Ghana-must-go bags, in their 50s and 100s. This is how I buy popularity, goodwill, loyalty, allegiance from my former co-colleagues J #sike
I know that you may judge my choice, and feel like sheri is such a pedestrian mango to choose as a favorite. Because it is so common, many people confuse that for not being special. But I stand with my choice. In reality, sheri is so sweet, I honestly think it is spiked with sugar. And her color, a light shade of pigmented green and yellow. Sheri reminds me of your uncle’s girlfriend; the one he met after he had made it, skinny, tall, yellow, buta, nice smile, warm friendly disposition, doesn’t say much, definitely adding refinement to your family.
Or like the recent city-girl, returning to her village and old friends, with tales of city life. In either case, reminiscent of someone who would garner attention and arouse slight envy, someone who would be called sisi. Sheri, the right name for such a person and such a fruit. I wonder where the name came from. I once had an argument with a friend, who was laughing at me for calling it sheri rather than cherry mango.
What is your favorite type of mango? How do you eat mangoes? Are you doing cartwheels or the Carlton-dance now that mango season is upon us? Is the plural of mango, mango(e)s?
Is the plural of mango, mango(e)s?
As you may have noticed, I can’t even make up my mind which version I prefer. If you were nursing during mango season, did you notice it enhanced your baby’s bowel movements? Any stories you have about mangos? I’d love to chat.
P.S.: Call your grandma (if she’s still with us)! I stopped mid-writing to call my granny, just to tell her I love her, once she heard my voice, she said, “hey, beautiful girl”. She was making Edikaikong at 94! We keep telling her to chill. She’s just the best.
Akwugo loves stories and connecting with people through their stories, she writes at Ahshakasha.com