My Vegetable Love by Samantha Memi

April 28, 2014 Comments Off on My Vegetable Love by Samantha Memi

I was born into an ordinary family in Berlin in 1938. My father was a stick of celery, my mother, a tomato. I was a grapefruit. My father sometimes queried the origin of my birth. My mother never answered.

Never had a grapefruit in the family, he would say.

She stayed silent.

I went through the state education system, and more by luck than talent, I arrived at university to study Vegetable Bake for Amateur Cooks. I wasn’t happy; I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to treat vegetables so cruelly. I left during the first year. I drifted, hung around in grocery shops, got in with a bad lot of spinach. It looked like my life would turn out bad. Then I met a gorgeous Maris Piper potato. He was new but, despite that, could find his way round the supermarket shelf. We married, had a baby carrot. I was so pleased.

Then one day we heard marching bands. We looked out the window and saw what we later learned were storm troopers. Two weeks later the door was smashed in and my husband was arrested. I heard later he’d been boiled and mashed. Didn’t they have souls, these people? He was a frying potato.

I was alone with my baby carrot. Everyone stared at me in the street. I realised it was because I was fruit and my daughter was vegetable. What gave them the right to judge me?

Then we were put in a camp where I was forced to chop up leeks and cauliflower for swarthy arrogant soldiers. It was a horrible job and I was warned that my daughter, who was too young to work, would be old enough to bake in a pie. I met a leek from the escape committee; he said they could help my daughter escape. They couldn’t help me; they only worked with the vegetable community. It was heart-breaking to say goodbye to my little carrot.

Mummy, she cried, don’t leave me.

You’ll be safe where you’re going, I said and stroked her topsy-turvy leaves, and then she was gone, driven off in a van painted as an ambulance but full of veg.

I was distraught. Friends said I had to continue working otherwise I’d be steamed. But I was so depressed I thought a good steaming might be better than the miserable existence I had.

Then other soldiers arrived. They killed our captors, and freed all the fresh veg. Some of the elders couldn’t be saved, but at least I was free. We had a party. I got sliced into segments and tipped into a fruit salad. A melon pip told me my daughter had married a handsome young cucumber. I was glad. I hope she is well.

© 2013 Samantha Memi

Samantha Memi lives in London. http://samanthamemi.weebly.com

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