house of happy

Life adventures in prose and verse. Explorations of places, people and words. Stories and fun.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The Melon of Kabul

Sounds like a good title for something, don't you think? Could it be the fruit that saved the life of a daring fighter, reunited lovers, brought peace? Could it be a magical chalice of wisdom, lost when the kingdom fell - a hundred years of darkness followed, weeds and brambles grew, people turned sad and sour, but survived - until the chalice was returned to them by a handsome prince? (prince arrived holding chalice, left holding ravishing maiden, great transaction all round). Could it be a promise of hallucinatory travels? Could it be the recipe for ending a war? Could it be what everyone yearns for, wants and seeks before they even know their own longing?

Ahem. Turns out it's only a melon; a slightly soft, yellow melon. The skin is bumpy, ridged, brown-spotted like the hands of old people. 1.5 kg of distilled sunshine, summer meadows and honey.

As I walked to the market, where the Melon of Kabul waited, two small boys in school uniforms were having a fight in a street corner. They pushed into each other, their school bags bobbed on their backs, the eyes tight-shut and a cloud of dust around their ankles. No sound, they gave and received in silence, too proud to stop but instead wincing, waiting for the injury, the adult or the miracle that would put an end to the scuffle.

One stumbled and fell; the other hesitated, looked around, licked his dry lips. The world flowed around them like a slow river, cold and unseeing. And he, this standing hero, he had Questions: "do I kick him? Do I kick dust onto him? Do I throw myself on top of this fool, to tumble in the dirt like kittens? Do I raise my arms in victory?"

He stretched his hand and scowled; looked away when his fallen friend took it, got up, shook himself a little; they left together, sullen and silent, bumping softly into each other every third step or so.

I got to the greengrocer still distracted and bubbling with laughter. Barely noticed when he put the Melon of Kabul onto the scales, heard him vaguely when he mentioned the price (a rip off) and murmured 'This Melon from Kabul, from Kabul this Melon. All the way from Kabul'. I paid up and walked back, spinning stories set in Kabul and featuring a golden melon.

At the street corner I looked up for inspiration and found the reason for the earlier clash-of-titans: a little blue kite, made up of two sticks and a plastic bag, trapped in the branches above.

In the story, once you taste the Melon of Kabul, you grow fearless (or tall), fearless enough to climb a gnarled old tree and disentangle a blue kite (or tall enough to reach into a gnarled old tree and disentangle a blue kite). Or both, why not? Why not?

Why not, I wonder - munching on the Melon of Kabul (sweet and cool and juicy), waiting for my wings to grow.


At 17 October 2012 at 09:10 , Anonymous Catriona said...

Tumbling in the dust like kittens... Monica please write a book. we've been waiting too long.


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