The Holy Mango
I hope this piece makes you laugh out loud.:-)
One day, when I walked past Spadina Avenue in Toronto, mangos in yellow and orangepiled high on a fruit stand caught my eye. A memory of a sacred mango fromalmost half a century earlier came flooding back to me.
It was in 1968, two years after the Cultural Revolutionhad started. Mao Zedong had dispatched the Workers’ Propaganda Team to managecolleges and universities across the country and reform the so-called “rottingintellectuals” as well. My family lived on one of these university campuses.
One evening when I was washing up bowls and chopsticksfrom our supper, a high volume loudspeaker suddenly blasted: “Revolutionaryfaculty and staff! A golden mango bestowed on our respected WPT by the reddestsun in our hearts, Chairman Mao, has arrived on campus.”
Listening to the inflaming announcement, I imagined agold fruit full of glowing spikes, based on the word “golden” and the Chinesewords for “mango.” I’d never seen such a fruit in my life, let alone this one,the gift to Mao from an African president across mountains and seas.
I stopped the washing as the speaker shouted:“Revolutionary family members including children are allowed to pay respects tothe most beloved mango, invited by our great WPT!” In those years, the word“invite” was used whenever one spoke of anything related to Mao Zedong. Forexample, when you bought a portrait of Mao, you had to say you had “invited” itfrom the bookstore. To say you bought it was politically incorrect and wouldlead to criticism.
Unlike the Red Guards who had been to Beijing andactually seen Chairman Mao, I’d missed the boat, but now I had my opportunityto see the golden mango from Mao! Quickly drying my hands, I hurried out tojoin a curious crowd in order to admire this VIP fruit.
The auditorium where the wondrous object was displayedwas already full, so we had to wait in the lobby. The members of the WPT,identifiable by their red armbands, arranged the people into rows. They werethe authorities at the university. Based on the revolutionary theory, landlords,the well-off, anti-revolutionaries, bad elements, rightists, traitors, specialagents, and “capitalist roaders” were eight “black” categories: the enemies ofthe revolution. After them came with the “stinking number nines”—the teachingstaff.
As the daughter of a Stinking Number Nine, I belonged toa group that had been described in a revolutionary song as “flowers of ourmotherland.” However, at that moment, we were all like silent and colourlessblossoms, moving gradually after the last adult group along an aisle betweenthe empty rows. Then, following the crowd, I climbed a short flight of stairstoward the stage. A large red banner with the black words of “Solute ChairmanMao’s Mango!” slightly fluttered over us.
I squinted in the glare of the stage lights and looked ata glass box on a large, rectangular table covered with red silk cloth. Afootball-shaped brown fruit lay inside the box. It didn’t have any spikes, buthad wrinkled skin. A young boy leapt toward the table, but before his handreached it, he was pulled back by his grandmother under the baleful eye of amember of the WPT. I moved along the line; a tall, white-haired man was toleave the table, but he suddenly turned around and bent over at the waist tothe mango. He was a carpenter with the Maintenance Section. To myunderstanding, like many other people, he didn’t have the chance to see Mao,but bowing to the mango was his greatest salutation to Mao. Before I decidedwhether I should follow suit, I was pushed away by other teens behind me.
Out of the auditorium on that starless night, I didn’tdare to think that the idolized mango was pretty ugly and that the loyal bowwas silly; neither did I realize that I myself was also a character in a pieceof absurdist fiction.
Decades later, standing at a fruit stand in thebustling Chinatown in Toronto, I envisioned the decayed godly mango fading awayin the sunlight while the street noise buried my wry chuckle.
FIRST TWO WEEKS OF COVID:
DAILAY COVID ACTIVITIES:
The dailay walk ritual, any reason is good to talk a walk and get some fresh air!