Let me tell you about these mangoes.
Wait. Let me tell you about me.
I am an Englishman; I am far, far from home, in Australia, and it is October here – so while at home the land is turning to frost, over here their Summer is just beginning to kick in. We are due to leave the country forever in a little under two months, so everything is increasingly bittersweet. The days are already long and hot. We are in mango season.
There are around two weeks a year where the mangoes are ripe; they are on display everywhere, hand-sized plump yellowgreen things, perhaps shifting a little to red at the top, with some grime on the stiff outer skin and little nubs of leftover ground on the sides. Maybe they are sticky, a little, with the juice that is squeezing out through the pores – the thick, clear, tacky juice that snuck out while you carried them home from the market and you ran home through the hot afternoon sun and bashed them around in the bag.
We are eating mangoes.
We have already had a big meal. The boy is here, and we are treating ourselves, so we eat great scotch fillet steaks, marbled white with fat throughout and fried hot in oil and butter, so the outside crusts up like the edge of a toasted cheese sandwich but the inside is red, raw, bleeding, steaming delicious. We eat hot chips; we spread lime and chilli salt all over them. Our mouths are watering. We drink glasses of red wine, the good stuff, none of this basement swill; about thirty bucks a bottle, and we enjoy it as hard as we can.
My mind is swishing around like the wine in my glass. I am full, already, belly-full, grin-full, and it is time to to cut the mangoes. The others watch Netflix on the laptop and I grab the fruits, hold them flat in my hand, and cut down close to the stone. As close as I can get. I score cubes into them then scoop them out into a big metal bowl, then throw in chopped fresh mint that I can smell on my hands, and squeeze lime juice over them – a half-lime, breaking under my grip, spilling fluid into the orange flesh.
I stir. I am so excited I can barely stop myself from eating it all now, here, and damn the consequences, but I do not. I take it to the table and dole it out into bowls and hand out spoons and my heart is racing because here it is, mango.
I sit and grab my spoon and pick up two pieces – one, cut far from the stone, thick and firm and bright, the other taken closer by the pit to it’s darker, clearer, softer – and push them into my mouth, and – and –
and my mouth starts doing somersaults. It is impossible. It is unfathomable; it makes the back of my skull itch from the sugar jacking into the pleasure centres of my brain – and then to have that cut by the sharp lime, not enough to mar it, just enough to stop it becoming sickly, and then to have the fresh mint dance along the top of that, feel the fingertips of it stroke over –
and I’m not able to speak, I’m drunk, and mango-drunk, and I mutter something inchoate and base and legitimately, I am not making this up, run my hand over the back of my neck and even as I’m doing it, I’m thinking – Grant, reel it in, this is a bit much – I moan and it’s all too much, it’s too perfect, it’s dazzling me like headlights and I freeze like a deer under it, dumbstruck and wide-eyed and awesome in that it is INSPIRING SOME FUCKING AWE
and then it fades, and I do it again, another spoonful, and it bursts again just as bright, just as astonishing in my mouth and I just start slapping the table – this is perfect, I mutter, I grin, juice stuck to my lips, I grab the boy’s arm and say God, are you getting this then I grab my wife’s arm and just stare at her then both, hands on their shoulders
Oh my god, guys, what even is this
And this is like being in love, this must be how they feel at those churches where they speak in tongues, this is running-downhill flavour, this is wind-in-your-hair shit, this is sparking out my back like phosphorous, this is majestic
and from the fourth, maybe the fifth bite, it calms down, and it’s still perfect, but my brain adapts to it and gears down, lets me run at a level where a bowlful will not leave me utterly defenceless, slackjawed and drooling. I eat the rest of it, one piece at a time, sometimes two.
I finish, and I think, and Netflix is just noise, and I think: I have to write about this. I have to record how this feels before this fades forever, so I sit and write and my wife goes to bed and here we are.