Apricots

I’m up in the north of the country and can’t stop marvelling at the greenery. I’ve come here to eat fruit. And maybe do a spot of work but that’s not important right now.

The weather hasn’t been so good this year and the rain-fed wheat crop has largely failed. But the land that is irrigated is stunningly verdant under bright blue skies.

Sitting down in different people’s houses over the last few days, we’ve been offered vast plates of mulberries, cherries, almonds and apples, the produce of hundreds of small orchards.

The region’s fruits and nuts used to be renowned for their quality, with a healthy export market. There have been efforts to revive production and trade, with varying degrees of success.

Walking through an orchard on a bright early summer’s day there seemed huge hope for Afghanistan. But then someone reminds you of the drought and points out the tents and animals on the hillside of people who have been forced to migrate from other parts of the country in search of pasture, and of the rising cost of wheat and bread. Just then, a WFP convoy drives past in a slow cloud of dust, taking food out to an isolated and hard-hit village.

We stopped off at the garden of a friend’s friend. I wasn’t too sure why but was just happy to be standing in the shade of several dozen different trees, birds flittering between the branches.

Suddenly someone scampered up one of the trees and started shaking its branches. A torrent of apricots came raining down on us. We began scrambling about in the grass to collect them as they continued to fall.

Once we’d amassed a huge pile of them on the ground, we squatted round in a circle and began to gorge. Small, just beginning to ripen properly, warmed by the sun, they were exquisite.

I ate dozens, juice running down my face and hands. Once full, and then some, we began cracking open the stones to eat the kernels. Until all that was left were the fragments of apricot stones under the shade of a tree.

Verily, ‘twas bliss.

That evening on the news was a report of two children in the same province who had starved to death.

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6 Responses to “Apricots”

  1. Peter Casier Says:

    Well told…

    Your writing style amazes me! Continue!

    p.

  2. harryrud Says:

    Oh my, I’m blushing!

    Besyar tashakor!

  3. ash Says:

    Besyar tashakor
    does that mean thank you? in arabic or something else?

  4. harryrud Says:

    ‘Thank you very much,’ in Dari.

  5. Afghanistan and the global food crisis « harry rud Says:

    […] and the global food crisis The drawback with eating so much fruit is that it’s usually been washed: washed in the nearest muddy irrigation canal. After a […]

  6. Frida Says:

    Hell. You had me all caught up in the moment there and then you slayed me with that last line.

    How am I going to sleep now?

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