A characteristic of my village neighborhood is that it is lined with mango trees. Every house has at least one. Mine has two. I was completely unaware of this until about a month ago, when small budding fruit started to appear on every tree. Now, growing green mangoes hang gloriously on all the trees and I can’t help asking my ibu nearly every day: Mango sudah siap? Is the mango ready? And to my dismay, she replies in a tired voice, Belum! Not yet!
The mangoes are green, but they are huge, some covered in plastic bags. I’ve seen this done before in other places, but I thought it was only a method to help the ripening process along. Apparently, the true function of the plastic covering is to protect the fruit from becoming the victim of a fruit bat.
I kept pestering my ibu about the mangoes that she finally got our neighbor to take some down for me. Kecut! Sour! she said as she prepared special peanut sauce, ruja manis, and laid out some salt to accompany the fruit. Though it wasn’t the sweet mango I longed for, I do enjoy mango in any form, so I pretty much devoured all of the ones pictured above with salt. (Even those nibbled on by bats.)
As the weeks pass, the mangoes get bigger and bigger, but not any greener. I finally stopped asking my ibu when they will be ready, since I always get the same answer and don’t understand her explanation on how she can tell, but every time I walk by a tree covered in fruit, inside I can’t help feeling like this: