Life Life

02/11/2017 - 15:20

Persimmon season

Not long ago the persimmon tree had changed its leaves and started budding. Then the early summer bees buzzed around, finding pollen upon the clusters of white blossoms and lush green leaves. And now the persimmon season has come.

The image of ripe persimmons brings back many memories of father and mother

These last few days, anyone passing would have to crane their neck upwards to see the ripe fruits. The light yellow color has turned into an orange yellow. Round and plump fruits peak through the leaves. It seems like the land of Hue is blessed with the sediment of the Huong River, so the trees of this area bear beautiful flowers and delicious fruits.

Thuy Bieu and Kim Long have their white grapefruits, red grapefruits. You can find different types of bananas at the morning market at Dong Ba. However, the persimmons that are rare and hard to grow only concentrate on the windy and sunny hills. They are not often found in the gardens in the city. A few are found in Khanh Son Pagoda of Monk Minh Duc; one is commemorated in the pictures of couples visiting a small cafe at the end of Chi Lang street alongside a cup warm tea, looking out the windy river; some persimmon trees are found in the beautiful garden of Le Minh Dieu in Kim Long ...

In the early morning of mid-August, if you drive out of the city for ten minutes on the way to Khai Dinh tomb and Bodhisattva Guanyin pagoda, amidst the green gardens and the trees, you will see some pink persimmons shining in the sunlight, giving you a thrilling feeling in peace. The sunlight is weak and the wind ripples through the alley ...

Father, the persimmon season has indeed come.

This fall, father’s persimmon tree is now nearly 40 years old. Just looking at the once-toddling Na who is now the mother of two big children, I realize how fast time has passed. When he was alive, father used to say that the persimmon tree is the same age as Na. At that time, father and mother had a very beautiful house. The brick house was built in a French style, nearly 400 square meters. Like many garden houses in Hue, right at the gate are two apricot trees with dark leaves and blossoms year round. On the side of the house, two stone benches sit under the shade of the coconut trees. Father chose the corner of the courtyard where the big green window was and planted a persimmon tree there. Over the past decades, father’s eleven sons and daughters and his grandchildren have grown up and gathered under the shade of his persimmon tree.

He had nearly 40 years working at Hue Hospital (direct translation: Hue House of love). He said he liked to call the hospital in its old name rather than the new name, Central Hospital. To think about it, he was right. The old name gave a close and warm love. From the French owners to the Americans, and until the unification of the country, he was a gentle but humble and dedicated doctor, quietly loving people and helping the sick… His grandchildren who followed his footsteps are proud that his reputation still stands until today.

My image of father and mother is still there every fruit season. Father would pick the persimmons with a canvas wrapped bamboo. The grandchildren would run around, catching the fruits and picking the fallen leaves and branches. Mother would quickly arrange the fruits in a bag for them to ripe. “Grandma, have the persimmons ripened yet?” the children would ask every day. About a week later, the persimmon bag would be opened. The persimmons were then ripe and had a fresh purple color. Mother gave equally a dozen of fruits to each family. That sweet smell, the grandchildren could never forget.

It has been more than ten years since they passed away. At their funerals, there were more than 50 children and grandchildren. The persimmon tree also mourned with a white band. Under the green foliage, the fruits were beginning to turn yellow. The cuckoo's cage was opened but the bird still didn’t fly far away. It would come back every three or four days and perch on the persimmon branch; its head bowed sadly and it did not sing. My brother said that he thought he saw the bird following them and perching on the pine tree next to father’s grave. Every time we visit the grave we hear the familiar song of sadness ...

And another persimmon season has come.

Father’s grandchildren have now become doctors. This fruit season, they have started picking the ripe ones for their girlfriends.

In the past years, the storms have weakened the tree. This year, due to proper care, we picked a few hundred fruits. I’m not as good as my mother, so the fruits do not ripe as much. Anyway I had to send them to my brothers and sisters like a present father and mother left behind for their children and grandchildren. I also took pictures and posted them on Facebook so my siblings who live far away can see.

I miss the laughter back then under the persimmon tree’s shade in the fruiting season. I miss father’s white hair and mother’s warm hand. We still wait until the persimmon season to gather like the old days…

Story and photo: Bach Diep

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