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The Shapoti Tree

The Shapoti Tree

posted on Thursday July 26, 2012 | in Crik Crak,Tuning in to Josephine | 5 Comments

THE SHAPOTI TREE.

 

 

I used to have a sapodilla tree; it was mine, it was always mine.  It wasn’t on my land but on my grand uncle’s, my great-grand mother planted it and by the time I was born it began to bear fruit.  My great grand mother, her name was Louisiana, was 100 years old by the time I claimed the tree.  Between her and her daughter there were many children and so all of that vast property was divided, chopped up and hashed out.  My other great grand mother, my mother’s mother had about nine children by about nine different fathers, she refused to take nonsense from any man.  Anyway back to Louisiana, we called he Ma Loosa though.  She planted many fruit trees; mangoes, loads of coconuts, guavas, and  among other things my sapodilla tree.  Every one knew unmistakably that it was mine.  I know what’s mine, and what’s mine is mine and I make sure that the world knows it’ even at 5 years old.  I would get so excited when the rough little fruit would start to show.  I knew it would be months before I could dip my tongue into its rough sugary pulp but I would hang around it anyway.  I would climb its nimble branches and sit there for hours watching the sky turn from red, to pink, and grey and orange and even on rare occasions green.  And then the sun, big and orange would dip into the sea.

 

Oh my sapodilla tree.  When I was about nine, it almost killed me.  Yep it did or more accurately I almost strangled myself on its branches.  See I loved to climb, anything if there was an up to it you can be sure I’d find a way to get there.  So many times I scraped my stomach sliding down the trunk of a mango or coconut  tree because my only goal was always up, I never thought of coming down.  So I’d be stuck there, too high to jump and the only way was to wrap my arms around the trunk and slide, peeling the skin off my belly.  I love the barks of trees.  So there I was one day, my shorts on, nine years old, a few necklaces around my neck and a pair of binoculars.  I got up my shapoti tree and sat there on the branch, spying.  Not much at all to spy at, mainly other trees,  I then proceeded to hang off the branch upside down hooking the branch with my legs.  As if that was not exciting enough I started doing a bit of gymnastics. In the islands there are no gymnastics, but I spun around the branch of my sweet shapoti tree with all my glun-glun, and binoculars.  Suddenly all of the chains and cord from the binoculars began to strangle me.  I’m hanging upside down, off the branch of a tree choking, screaming, “help me, somebody help me!”  Lucky for me my cousins were not too far off.  Do you know the first thing they did when they saw me choking to death?  They laughed, I wasn’t even mad that they laughed cause I knew that would save me, but the sight of me hanging upside down with an  old pair of binoculars wrapped around my neck choking me was funny.  They unwrapped me from my shapoti tree and we all had a good laugh.

 

But horror of all horrors was to come. My grand uncle was to send wonderful money from America to build a big house.  Yes a nice big house for him to retire to and watch the sun set.  You know where?  Right in front of my tree, blocking my view.  It turned out to be not so bad, as I quickly found out I had a whole lot in common with construction workers.  Oh yes I loved to shovel and I loved the smell of cement.  Oh and even better was playing in the sand for mixing the cement.  You can imagine what  a dirty girl I was?  But of course I, along with my brother and cousin became a nuisance. We would ride our bicycles all around the foundation of the house breaking all the pvc pipes jutting out.  We were such dangerous children,  riding around even blindfolded daring each other  to do all sorts of crazy things.  When I was very young my brother dared me to eat the leaf of a certain house plant.  Of course to prove to my older brother how courageous I was I chewed it.  His reaction was to laugh when he heard  me wince then wail, face screwed up.  What a terrible itch…

 

Anyway the big house got built eventually, my uncle didn’t move back for another 15 years maybe.  We had various neighbours and I loved my sapodilla tree.  Only one day I arrived when I was about 13 and the tree was gone, chopped down, a jagged stump aching where the treee used to bloom.  I cried.  It was such a rape, such a violation for him to have demanded for the tree to be removed, gone.  Oh he has no idea the pain he caused me.  This very uncle who would promise every Christmas that when he took the plane back to AMERICA, pointing up at the BWI A plane gliding in blue, he would drop me sweets from the sky.

 

I used to love him.

 

I used to love him dearly for all those empty promises.  Of course I grew to understand it was not possible but  I loved to imagine it anyway.  Thousands of sweeties falling from the white Caribbean clouds.  I’d imagine I had red patent leather shoes running across a wild grass field catching fancy New York candy.  For him to have inspired such images was enough for me to love him.  But then he cut down the tree and I began to see him as a man with no vision, no forsight for I had imagined me and MY tree growing old together. I used to think we would die together with the sunset, me and Shapoti.  But like Louisiana, she too would go, but they both remain alive in my memory.

THE SHAPOTI TREE.

 

 

I used to have a sapodilla tree; it was mine, it was always mine.  It wasn’t on my land but on my grand uncle’s, my great-grand mother planted it and by the time I was born it began to bear fruit.  My great grand mother, her name was Louisiana, was 100 years old by the time I claimed the tree.  Between her and her daughter there were many children and so all of that vast property was divided, chopped up and hashed out.  My other great grand mother, my mother’s mother had about nine children by about nine different fathers, she refused to take nonsense from any man.  Anyway back to Louisiana, we called he Ma Loosa though.  She planted many fruit trees; mangoes, loads of coconuts, guavas, and  among other things my sapodilla tree.  Every one knew unmistakably that it was mine.  I know what’s mine, and what’s mine is mine and I make sure that the world knows it’ even at 5 years old.  I would get so excited when the rough little fruit would start to show.  I knew it would be months before I could dip my tongue into its rough sugary pulp but I would hang around it anyway.  I would climb its nimble branches and sit there for hours watching the sky turn from red, to pink, and grey and orange and even on rare occasions green.  And then the sun, big and orange would dip into the sea.

 

Oh my sapodilla tree.  When I was about nine, it almost killed me.  Yep it did or more accurately I almost strangled myself on its branches.  See I loved to climb, anything if there was an up to it you can be sure I’d find a way to get there.  So many times I scraped my stomach sliding down the trunk of a mango or coconut  tree because my only goal was always up, I never thought of coming down.  So I’d be stuck there, too high to jump and the only way was to wrap my arms around the trunk and slide, peeling the skin off my belly.  I love the barks of trees.  So there I was one day, my shorts on, nine years old, a few necklaces around my neck and a pair of binoculars.  I got up my shapoti tree and sat there on the branch, spying.  Not much at all to spy at, mainly other trees,  I then proceeded to hang off the branch upside down hooking the branch with my legs.  As if that was not exciting enough I started doing a bit of gymnastics. In the islands there are no gymnastics, but I spun around the branch of my sweet shapoti tree with all my glun-glun, and binoculars.  Suddenly all of the chains and cord from the binoculars began to strangle me.  I’m hanging upside down, off the branch of a tree choking, screaming, “help me, somebody help me!”  Lucky for me my cousins were not too far off.  Do you know the first thing they did when they saw me choking to death?  They laughed, I wasn’t even mad that they laughed cause I knew that would save me, but the sight of me hanging upside down with an  old pair of binoculars wrapped around my neck choking me was funny.  They unwrapped me from my shapoti tree and we all had a good laugh.

 

But horror of all horrors was to come. My grand uncle was to send wonderful money from America to build a big house.  Yes a nice big house for him to retire to and watch the sun set.  You know where?  Right in front of my tree, blocking my view.  It turned out to be not so bad, as I quickly found out I had a whole lot in common with construction workers.  Oh yes I loved to shovel and I loved the smell of cement.  Oh and even better was playing in the sand for mixing the cement.  You can imagine what  a dirty girl I was?  But of course I, along with my brother and cousin became a nuisance. We would ride our bicycles all around the foundation of the house breaking all the pvc pipes jutting out.  We were such dangerous children,  riding around even blindfolded daring each other  to do all sorts of crazy things.  When I was very young my brother dared me to eat the leaf of a certain house plant.  Of course to prove to my older brother how courageous I was I chewed it.  His reaction was to laugh when he heard  me wince then wail, face screwed up.  What a terrible itch…

 

Anyway the big house got built eventually, my uncle didn’t move back for another 15 years maybe.  We had various neighbours and I loved my sapodilla tree.  Only one day I arrived when I was about 13 and the tree was gone, chopped down, a jagged stump aching where the treee used to bloom.  I cried.  It was such a rape, such a violation for him to have demanded for the tree to be removed, gone.  Oh he has no idea the pain he caused me.  This very uncle who would promise every Christmas that when he took the plane back to AMERICA, pointing up at the BWIA plane gliding in blue, he would drop me sweets from the sky.

 

I used to love him.

 

I used to love him dearly for all those empty promises.  Of course I grew to understand it was not possible but  I loved to imagine it anyway.  Thousands of sweeties falling from the white Caribbean clouds.  I’d imagine I had red patent leather shoes running across a wild grass field catching fancy New York candy.  For him to have inspired such images was enough for me to love him.  But then he cut down the tree and I began to see him as a man with no vision, no forsight for I had imagined me and MY tree growing old together. I used to think we would die together with the sunset, me and Shapoti.  But like Louisiana, she too would go, but they both remain alive in my memory.

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5 Comments

  1. Hugh C. Findletar (Reply) on Thursday 26, 2012

    So so beautiful this story, because I had the same tree in my aunts yard where I lived as a child in Jamaica… Wow Shala…

  2. a Wildcat (Reply) on Thursday 26, 2012

    Everything must have its end.

  3. malika (Reply) on Thursday 26, 2012

    beautiful story,
    beautiful little
    girl
    is it you or y ?

    • shala (Reply) on Thursday 26, 2012

      my niece

  4. Marian (Reply) on Thursday 26, 2012

    Shala you are such a wonderful writer. You need to write a novel.
    You way with words paints such beautiful pictures.
    This was absolutely beautiful.
    I could read it over and over.
    Glam kisses
    Marian.

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