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Red homes and mangoes

June 17, 2011

When I was three years old, my parents tell me, a little girl in a crowd asked me where I live. I screwed up my eyes, thought for several seconds, and answered “the red house.” She , I’m told, screwed up her eyes, thought for several seconds, and replied, “yes, I know the one you mean.”

My house was painted red. It was a concrete bungalow, with a flat roof and concrete veranda out front. It wasn’t pretty, but it was made lovely by the wrought iron gates by the fence, the fruit trees and the dancing light in the garden. As a special treat, I was allowed to sweep the concrete porch with a wood and straw broom, and then sit in the rope swing tied to a sturdy branch outside the kitchen window.

In the mango season, my grandfather would buy boxes and boxes of the sweet-scented yellow-orange fruit and store them in his cool study.  I would take a book and a knife, sit under the dark wood table and spend the whole afternoon peeling, reading and eating. I didn’t need anything else.

My red house. It was my world. It’s still standing.

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