Entropic Fruit— Noor Kaur
Winter fruit demands decorum. The four crisp leaves on a persimmon are instructional: get a plate, get a knife, cut into quarters. And you do as you’re told. The fruit is sweet, in a no-nonsense way. When you’re done, you wash your hands and carry on.
As summer peaks around the corner and the air begins to feel thick, everything moves as if through syrup. I had marked the beginning of lychee season in my calendar. Now, after Work, I sit on the balcony in a plastic chair, with my feet propped on a plastic stool. I cradle a steel bowl with six lychees because that is the precise amount the bowl can contain without any fruit resting on top of the other.
When you eat an orange, you can push your thumb into the depression at the top. Then you gently peel the skin in sections, so that it lays like a crude drawing of a flower. The skin of a lychee is brittle, only peeling off in tiny flakes. I got a new nail polish last Sunday, a purple just this side of gray, and painted my nails this morning. Each attempt to unsheath the fruit leaves a pockmark on my thumbnail. Sometimes, the skin pricks the fruit and the juice sprays up on my glasses. You cannot multitask when you eat lychees. I have tried and ended up with nectar-dotted book pages and a sticky escape key on my laptop. The lychee demands your attention.
Rumor has it that if you eat too many lychees you could break out in a rash. Perhaps that is a rumor made up by my mom to dissuade her child from gluttony. It didn’t work. The flesh of the lychee is oh-so sweet, floral and sinewy. Try as you might, the remnants of the fruit run down your wrist and you have no choice but to lick it clean. It is humiliating. I’m sure if anyone saw me from across the courtyard, in their own balcony, they would empathize. When the fruit is gone, you are left with a smooth pit in your mouth, like an old river stone. I want to go back inside but my fingers stick to each other and the screen door is dusty. I call out to my mom inside to let me in, but I don’t think she can hear me. I sit back down, with nothing to do but wait, as what’s left of the lychee sinks into my skin.
Noor is a writer and art historian currently based in Delhi-NCR, India. @noor.webp (instagram) & @noor_webp (twitter)