The first time I came in contact with the concept of a banana was while my mother was reading me a story from a children´s book. It was about an adventurous monkey that lived in the jungle spending its days swaying from tree to tree and eating bananas all day long. I loved that monkey and its adventures so much that I could not stop talking about it until I got one for my 3rd birthday. I named it Pari (short for “majom parádé” meaning monkey parade). The only thing that looked like a monkey was its head: the body was almost a normal human body covered by a pink and white plaid; it wore shorts and it went everywhere with me.
“Mom, what´s a banana?”
“It is a yellow crooked fruit that grows in faraway countries.”
“Do only monkeys eat them?” I asked.
“No. Also people eat them. You know in some countries they grow just like apples grow in our country. Those are very warm countries. Bananas do not like the snow.”
“Did you ever have one?”
“Not really. I once saw some in the store, but they were gone so quickly I wonder if I may have only dreamt it.”
Ever since that day the banana engraved in my mind as this exotic moody fruit that was only growing in the company of privileged people and privileged monkeys. Not even Pari had seen one.
I remember the day I finally saw a real banana with my own two eyes. It looked so strange, but it smelt sweet and soft. I did not get a chance to taste it as it was being eaten by Beti. I witnessed the process of its disappearing in her mouth wondering how it would feel to have a piece in my mouth.
Beti was this girl who lived above our apartment with her older brother, her mom and her dad. They were an exclusive family, or at least that was the image they were struggling to keep up with. Beti and her brother, Sebi, were always very white and clean. Sebi was a very beautiful and fragile boy every girl was in love with, including me. I remember daydreaming about him and being jealous every time he talked to another girl. He was a heart breaker and he hardly knew it.
He and Beti were not allowed to play with us very much. Mostly they were kept at home like two knick-knacks put into the family´s cabinet. They often sat by the window looking at us, other children, playing all day long and getting dirty. I believe they would have loved to join us.
Their mother was a quite well-fed woman. I was always wondering how she could walk upright with those two huge bosoms hanging from her chest.
I was a little scared of her. She was very proud and moody and talked in a very quiet, low voice. She always wore impeccable clothes that she was regularly getting from some acquaintances who lived in Germany.
Her husband, Beti´s father, was a slim, tall man at the total grace of his wife. He worshiped her like a goddess. Not only he would carry full bags, but he also carried her purse every day, walking behind her like a puppy. It looked funny how he always took small steps behind her, her colorful purse hanging from his hand, always looking at her as if the world around him did not exist. Everybody from the neighborhood was making fun of him and somehow, I felt sorry for him. Even for a small child it was clear that she was the boss in the house.
One day in October, Beti came down to play and had a banana in her hand. All the kids gathered around her to see the crooked fruit they had only heard about. She consumed the whole thing in front of us. It smelt so good and all of us would have wanted to taste it. But that never happened that day. When she finished, she gave us the banana peel so that we could tasterip the remains. It was cruel. However, it gave me an idea what a banana was.
Only a few months later, the angel brought me and my family exactly four bananas for Christmas. I do not know how my parents pulled that one off.
My mom and dad got to share one, the rest was kept for me to have, one for each of the upcoming three days. It is funny how they still do that today: they always save double the amount of everything for me although scarcity is not an issue anymore as you can find everything in the stores now.
Even until this very day I remember the smell and the taste of those ripe bananas from that first banana Christmas and no banana I have consumed ever after has tasted so delicate.
A few months later after that Christmas, Beti´s mom and Sebi disappeared. They were just gone from one day to the other. When asked where they were, the father responded proudly that they were able to go to Germany for a while. Beti and her father lived for more than a year by themselves, left behind by the goddess.
Rumors had it that when they were finally able to join them in Germany, they found the mother living with another man, having two newborn twin babies. She took Beti in but left the father on the streets.