By Jamie Gangoo. It was early one Sunday morning when Joseph, scratching his back and yawning loudly, dragged his feet to the kitchen. He pulled back the curtain to the window overlooking the backyard and peered outside; his usual morning routine. The birds seemed extra cheery that morning as they chased one another and dived from tree to tree. As Joseph enjoyed their raucous, his eyes fell on the half-hidden grass below the Julie mango tree. The blood drained from his face. Ripe mangoes lay abandoned on the ground, their skin split from bird pecks and their vibrant orange entrails exposed. The worst, Joseph thought, was that the birds did not even care to eat the entire mangoes, but pecked each one here and there.
He collected every single ripe mango
The injustice cut deep, deeper than the pecks on his mangoes. But the feeling of injustice turned quickly to guilt. He had become one of those heathens that left their mango trees to suffer the weight of ripe mangoes on their branches. That Sunday morning, however, Joseph was determined to redeem himself.
Armed with a market bag, he marched his way to the yard, grabbed a long rod and started collecting every single ripe mango he saw. He needed to do something about the birds this mango season. He was considering waking up his son, Kevin, to help him, but the boy will never be able to function this early on a Sunday morning.
As he glanced up, he saw a bird quietly perched on the orange tree. “None for allyuh!” He said, threateningly shaking his rod. The bird insolently tilted his head to the side.
An injustice being served to the birds
The bird was Fleek, a Bananaquit who had seen the entire ordeal. Fleek always liked Joseph as the human had made a simple bird feeder in which he left seeds and fruits for the birds. Sometimes, Joseph also tried chirping to the birds, but sounded like a duck quarrelling which made the birds laugh at him fondly. However, despite Fleek’s love for Joseph, he could not deny that an injustice was being served to his family and himself. Mango season was but once a year, after all.
His eyes followed Joseph’s bag of mangoes to a short stool in the gallery, beside which lay Jabba the dog guarding. Jabba was lovable, but silly, and will easily leave his post to chase a drifting leaf.
Birds pecked the bag to make a hole
Fleek devised a plan but needed the help of his family. Meanwhile, the other birds were flying wildly about and making unnecessary commotion in Fleek’s head. Must be the sugar in the mango have them so unruly, mused Fleek. Maybe it was good that Joseph take all, he thought spitefully, until his yellow belly reminded him otherwise. “Gather around!” He cried. They had to act quickly.
While Buggy the Blackbird distracted Jabba, four of the others, Fleek included, pecked the bag to make a hole. Each bird worked until there was a hole big enough for the mangoes to pass through. Together, they began nudging a julie mango with their beaks to make it roll out the bag and onto the floor. As they diligently continued their work, nudge by nudge, a huge explosion broke their concentration.
It was Joseph’s notorious sneeze. With that sneeze, there was no need for a look out. Fleek chuckled briefly, thinking about Joseph’s expressions as he sneezed. But the sneezes were getting louder.
“Attack!” yelled Fleek. Flit, Kiwi and Jay flew straight into the house, wildly circling Joseph and tweeting loudly. They had no intention of pecking the culprit, but distracting him long enough so the others can complete their mission.
“Get! Get! Get out of meh house!” Joseph bawled, reaching blindly for the mosquito zapper and whacking the air. He knew the birds were out for revenge, but he was going to fight back with all he had. He flayed his arms wildly while pummelling to the gallery where his gems lay. And it was there he saw the birds rolling his sweet beloveds on the ground.
“No!” He shouted. He lunged towards them, but hit his knee against a chair that sent shock waves throughout his body.
“Dad! What happen?” Joseph turned around to see Kevin, armed with a cutlass and eyes surprisingly wide awake.
“De bird and them!”
“DE BIRDS THIEFING MEH MANGOES!”
Kevin stood silently looking from his father to the birds around him. It then dawned on him that he had willfully gotten off his bed on a Sunday morning to intervene in this madness.
“I going back to sleep,” he proclaimed, walking back in the house.
Anger and pain were seething in Joseph. He glared at the birds perched on the trees, the shed and the gallery wall. Fleek himself stared at Joseph, until their eyes locked.
It was then the pair came to the slow realisation that the mangoes had not only filled their bellies, but consumed their souls like a diabolical charm.
“Eat them! Is everyone own”
Joseph was first to break the spell. “Ah, alright!” He muttered gruffly. He took some of the mangoes from the bag and placed them in the bird feeder. The birds were at first skeptical and continued looking on quietly.
“Eat them! Is everyone own,” Joseph professed. “Although I plant the tree,” he added under his breath. He walked back in the house, defeated, and peeped at the birds through the kitchen window. One by one he saw them fly to the mangoes and begin feeding. He, himself, took a mango and after peeling off the skin with his teeth, bit into the sweet flesh until pale, yellow juice streamed down his arm.
Meanwhile, as Fleek swallowed bits of the julie mango, he vowed never to let mangoes come between his friends and him again. Well, unless his friends were being greedy, he rationalised.
This story was inspired by my father’s and sister’s intense love (and greed) for Julie mangoes.
August 2015 – Issue 17 www.sweettntmagazine.com
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