by Sumaita Mahmood
Yellow, slimy, sticky, smelly pulp
scooped out of the mottled shell,
leaving the empty carcass of the jackfruit.
It lies on the table, still cold from the freezer.
Special glass dessert bowls are brought out
and a gracious amount is dumped in each one
with a dollop of vanilla bean ice cream.
The relatives around the table take their rations,
slurping up the cold fruit into their mouths.
The sharp, bittersweet taste triggers faint memories
of when they were little and had nothing else to enjoy
but the putrid insides of a large jackfruit.
No words need to be said.
Only “mmm” “aaahh” and “oooo”
their eyes closed, blind to the ugly pulp.
The seeds are sucked on, then spit out.
Bowls shamelessly licked clean.
Each relative goes for seconds and thirds eagerly.
A bowl of jackfruit is passed down the table
to my unwilling hands.
I confess my allergy.
The quick red flush on my cheeks
miraculously goes unnoticed.
A cousin I might have seen three times in my life
wonders why I can’t have this wonderful delicacy
that she has grown up relishing.
I stare back, not answering.
Perhaps what she does not realize, is that
jackfruits do not, cannot grow in NYC.
Only in hot, humid places like Bangladesh
where they reside among the tall, fruit-bearing trees.