I was a guava goblin and I could eat them all day long. I had uncles and aunts bring her to me in dozens when they visited. I extolled her virtues endlessly and bullied her shamelessly out of my little cousins. When my siblings fought with me and it was time for an apology, a guava was usually the olive branch. Yeah, guavas were my favourite fruit. Until one summer came and my love affair with her, well changed.
As children on summer vacation, we waited for my mom to get to work. Once she left, we let ourselves out too. Our unbridled selves bullied the neighbours’ kids, terrorised their pets, broke window panes, rummaged their gardens and played in the sun until she roasted us a golden brown.
That afternoon, we decided to have ourselves a merry little guava fest. Our neighbour’s garden had a very pregnant guava tree. Her branches dangled with green guavas, red guavas and yellow ones too. And the thoughtful tree that she was, she dropped as many guavas as she could on my neighbour’s terrace.
The modus operandi was simple. The adults next door were religious afternoon nappers. While they slumber, I clamber up, gather as many guavas as I could and scramble down quickly. Meanwhile my brothers downstairs would alert me if an adult showed up. A whistle meant, drop everything and hide.
Here’s how I think of it today. My neighbour’s architect had a bout of amnesia. Only that could explain why he forgot to install a stairway to their terrace. Either that or the folks next door had an awful amount of fun, using a ladder to climb up and down their own roof.
After mounting the ladder, our plan was in full swing. Until the gentleman from next door threw a spanner in our wheel. He decided he could use a smoke. And enjoy the shade of the guava tree while doing so.
The smoker under the tree made my brother a little nervous. And my brother usually combatted frayed nerves by breaking into a high pitched song. A coping mechanism he learnt at the dramatics school.
Yeah, we were on shaky grounds but we carried on diligently. Until my brother decided to employ another trick from his wretched dramatics school. He decided to wave his arms around wildly while singing. Our neighbour after probably wondering if the heat got to my brother, looked up curiously. Probably to see who my brother was waving out too.
Ah and what does one see – a guava stealing goblin, perched prettily on the wall of his terrace.
So now, we have two gentleman battling frayed nerves. The adult probably didn’t go to drama school, so he decides to soothe his frayed nerves by confiscating the ladder. Detaining the prowler upstairs seemed to calm his nerves and he intended to keep it that way. For a while at least.
I was all alone on a terrace, thirsty, hungry and teary eyed with no means of getting down. I now officially join the group battling edgy nerves, and my nerves decide to sort themselves out by eating my favourite fruit.
I ate out of anxiety, I ate out of hunger and I ate out of thirst. I ate till I could eat no more and I ate till I was sick. By the time my neighbor restored the ladder, the damage was done. My love affair with the guava had ended. Painfully and permanently.