Mangos Every Summer / Yoani Sánchez

The branches bend under the weight and children throw stones and shake the limbs trying to knock down the fruit. It’s mango season. Like a cycle of life that transcends the crisis, the lack of vision, and the failed agricultural plans, the mangoes come again, the filipinos and bizcochuelos. We are at exactly the moment when the most humble courtyard in a forgotten hamlet can compare itself with a meticulously tended garden in Miramar. It is enough that the old mango tree planted by the grandparents is bearing fruit for the whole family to begin to revolve around it.

Right now, while cutting some mangoes given to us by Augustine, I think of how my life is marked by the memories associated with this smell and texture. The little ones, preserved in syrup, that we ate during my vacations in the village of Rodas, the green tart ones that we salted at the schools in the countryside, and those others that we stole–driven by hunger–from the Experimental Farm in the municipality of Guira during the dark days of the Special Period. And after one bite, the strings caught between my teeth, the juice dripped down my chin and dirtied my clothes, I sucked the seed until it was white, and threw the rind on the floor where it was as slippery as a banana peel.

Mangoes evoke every stage of my existence, each one of the periods we have gone through lately on this Island. I remember the free market known as Central–in the years of the Soviet subsidies–where I first tried Taoro brand mango nectar. Then came the process of “rectifying errors and negative tendencies,” with its sweeping away of the petty bourgeoisie; and when Taoro nectar reappeared ten years later it was sold only in convertible currency.

This fruit has the merit of having proved its incredible resistance to State farms, to the blunders that absorbed thousands of acres of land, like the 10 Million Ton Sugar Harvest, the plan to grow microjet bananas, and even the unwanted advances of the marabou weed. The stubborn mango is still here, marking our lives with its flavor, making any poor yard a haven of prosperity, at least as long as summer lasts.

11 June 2011