Echoes of Clementines

FEU Advocate
March 16, 2024 18:01

Truth be told, I hate citrus fruits. 

They remind me of air fresheners from my grandfather's car, the very same car we would take to church and on long drives. I am often nauseated by just the sight of them. 

They are quite tedious to open, too. By the time I finish peeling the skin and separating it into bite-sized pieces, I would have made you clementine juice; all you need now is a glass. 

They are very pungent, and they stick to your clothes. My mother and sister are quite fond of citrus-scented perfumes, and when it is my time to bring the laundry basket downstairs, I hold my breath and race down as fast as I can, making sure I don't get a whiff of their perfume from their clothes. 

They are expensive. I remember a childhood friend's optimistic dream of building a company set up to produce fresh clementine juice with pulp, so she started small with a stall outside her garage. A glass cost about half of my earnings from plucking my grandmother's white hair. 

I hate citrus fruits because they remind me so much of the town I left behind, the people I barely talk to, the places I used to go, and the child that I used to be. It held so much longing, so much hope, and so many dreams. I could not bear the sight of it; it was a reminder of the world I lost and the bridges I burned. The drives I took, my carelessness, my family, and my friends; all distant memories. 

Today, you lent me a slice of your clementine; its skin was peeled perfectly, and the whites have been carefully dissected. You held it gently as you waited for me to grab a hold. In the tips of your fingers, you held an important piece of me, and you were blissfully unaware of that. 

But I took it. I grabbed it, took a sniff, and brought it close to my mouth. I let the flavor linger a little longer before I smiled at you. You smiled back. Maybe I should not run from these things anymore, maybe I should let them be a part of me—a half of the clementine. 

I hate citrus fruits. Yet you made me love them again, the same way olives are close to your own. And truth be told, from here on out, I think I always will.

-Allyah Jenris C. Allam

(Illustration by Toni Miguela Ursua/FEU Advocate)