Of the few mercies granted by life, one is ensuring supply of things. Things, not people. One would rather opt-in to be supplied with desired people, but life doesn’t grant anything that’s people dependent. Except oneself. If you get what I mean.Thrifty hearts, however, find solace in ascertaining anything little they can. Even if it’s something as plain as papayas.
And so it’s heartening to note that it’s within my reach to plan my fruit supplies every week. Being working and managing home all by oneself has its challenges. One has time to stock up the fridge only once a week. While other fruits don’t play very hard to get and survive, papayas are particularly snobbish. I mean an apple will taste the same on Monday and Friday, so will pomegranate. But papayas and bananas belong to the category that have to be picked carefully, their ripening stage staggered day-by-day, to make sure that you get the correct taste on your breakfast table each day.
After a year of buying my own supplies of my breakfast papaya, I understood one thing it wanted to teach. That a papaya will never be on a Friday what it is not on a Sunday.
When fresh stock arrives on a Sunday, the ripe ones that you will use within week’s first three days are easy to choose. You look for babies which are a pastel orange and firm to hold. Neither too soft, nor too hard. In a sweet-spot between the two. The choice is usually correct. As in, you have to be partially blind and touch-insensitive to get that part wrong (if you are a true lover of papayas).
It is the week’s later part papaya that would be hard to select. Rows upon rows of unripe papaya would lie there, staring blankly at you, while your head buzzed with the problem of plenty. Those cross-roads were very confusing for me, till I learnt the lesson. There would be greens with the pallor of yellow, there would be yellows with the promise of orange. Then there would be those whose one half were olive green and the other half bright orange as though only one side saw the sun. Which of these would you select in the hope that it would provide the desired taste after being wrapped in layers of paper for three days?
After a year of experimenting on this subject, I have found the answer validated and established through experience, which my gut had told me in the first instance. That a papaya will never be on a Friday what it is not on a Sunday.
No matter how unripe, how green and hard, if the fruit has a promising hint of orange, it will emerge right. It will tickle your palette with delight a few days later. It will sate your senses. Why? Because it had it inside from the first day itself. Whereas if you were to pick up a green or a yellow in the hope that it would ripen to sweetness, you will get in the end what you saw in the beginning. It may be perfect to touch and visibly ruddy, it may even be nutritious and juicy, but it will be shorn of that essential sweetness. Shorn of the exactitude that your heart yearns for.
Now you see the uncanny resemblance between papayas and people? If they are not from the very birth what you desire of them, if that streak never existed in them…it will not come. No matter how hard you try. No matter how hard they try. These people, these papayas…they may look perfect from outside. Perfectly ripe, perfectly healthy, perfectly coloured.
That they are tasteless, you alone will know.