Grandmother used to say, “Never swallow the seeds of any fruit because if you do, a tree would grow on your head.” I was extremely curious as to how I would look like if a fruit tree of some kind, say a papaya, grew on my head.
Would my hair gradually turn to leaves and fall off during the dry spell?
Or would the tree be so tall and heavy that I would not be able to move anywhere but sit forever at a same spot with mum resorting to feed me?
With all these questions running through my head, I was, however, too afraid to try it on myself.
So I did the only thing I could; I fed my grandmother’s dog papaya seeds. Yes, that’s right. Grandmother had an old dog and he constantly stared at me whenever I ate, to which I found to be absolutely rude.
So when she got us papaya that day and after eating but saving the seeds, I quietly slipped away and fed the dog; not one, not two, but a whole handful of papaya seeds!
The dog died later that night and grandmother was really distraught. I on the other hand was pretty disappointed that a papaya tree did not grow out from the old dog’s head.
The next morning, when the sun came up, we buried the dog and said a short prayer with grandmother leading it. She was inconsolable during the burial but I patted her on the hand and said, “Cheer up, at least a papaya tree did not grow from his head. That would have been even more awful.” She couldn’t really fathom what I meant and so, she continued crying.
Two months later, one fine evening, as I was playing by the burial spot of the old dog, I realised something odd from the ground where it was buried. I bent down and took a closer look and to my awe and surprise, a shoot was growing steadily on the exact spot where the dog was buried.
It already had about three to four leaves and was growing steadily. I quickly ran in and brought grandmother by the hand and showed her the amazing spectacle.
She sat and teared.
And when I asked her why, she said, “The old dog has now become a plant.” I was puzzled and so I asked, “But you said a fruit tree would grow on your head if you eat its seeds. How come the dog turned to one?”
She didn’t know how to reply and brushed my question aside instead by promising me that if the little shoot grows into a big tree and bears fruits, she would make me the best salad ever. I was never into salads so I didn’t bother much.
As time went by and when the tree bore fruits, grandmother made a papaya salad for me and as I munched on it, carefully avoiding the seeds, I felt something weird in my mouth. It was thick and rough and mushy and when I placed my fingers in, I realised it was hard too.
As I took my fingers out, I came face to face with a huge chunk of dog fur.
I stared at it for the longest time in disbelief and the words, “Jesus, the dog did turn into a tree!” kept running in my head.
I never ate seeds or fruits or even fruit salads ever again from that day onwards.