We love hearing from our amazing Cosmic Crisp® fans and how the apple creates lasting memories. When we found this story on Facebook, we knew it was meant to be shared. Enjoy this touching tale of how a daughter came to appreciate her father’s love of fruit, and how it’s come full circle with the Cosmic Crisp®.
Fruit is my father’s preferred currency. For as long as I can remember, he has used it for tips of gratitude, day-to-day bribes, and assorted gestures of good will.
When I was nine years old, my father moved our family into a house with 20 lime trees. I wondered what he was thinking. He didn’t drink tequila and we didn’t eat much fish or key lime pie. We could only garnish with so many lime wedges. Even as a child, I knew that one tree would have been plenty for our modest family of four.
And it was. In fact, one tree was all he had ever intended for us; nineteen trees were for other people.
He kept the trunk of his old cavernous Volvo sedan stocked with an army of loose limes that slammed into each other like billiard balls when he took a sharp turn and reminded him of his tremendous buying power. That Volvo had excellent acoustics.
Some fathers rattle the change in their pockets. Mine would slam on the car brakes and let the citrus thunder and roar. This was odd behavior that I couldn’t explain to my friends as he chauffeured us to sleepovers, but I reminded myself that the situation could be worse: At least there wasn’t a dead body in the trunk. Although if there had been, limes are a natural preservative.
Anyway, everyone in my world ended up getting a lime or two at some point: my piano teacher, the orthodontist who removed my braces, unsuspecting Jehovah’s Witnesses who came to the door with pamphlets and walked away with an awkward armful of loose fruit.
I don’t know if my father was ever pulled over by the police in those days, but I wouldn’t have put it past him to slip a cop a lime. Bribes were fairly standard practice with law enforcement in his native country, and they were a non-negotiable part of the visa process when he wanted to emigrate from Pakistan to the United States in the early 1970s.
He acquired other trees over the years– peach, orange, avocado, apricot– and although they didn’t transport as conveniently in the trunk, he had his way of making them appear in just the right moment for the appropriate transaction. When my father worked as an engineer for the California Department of Transportation, he had a coworker named Joe who used to own a barber shop. One day, when Joe offered impromptu haircuts in the break room, he was compensated with two perfectly ripe avocados that my father had been packing like pistols in the pockets of his work pants.
It pays to be quick on the draw: Joe loved avocados, and my father’s hair stayed neatly cropped until retirement. In his final year at the company, my father increased Joe’s salary to eight avocados. He claimed the adjustment was due to inflation, but I know that he had grown fond of his barber and wanted to keep him in the lap of luxury, with the biggest bowl of guacamole on the block. Also, Joe’s wife had died.
Some of these transactions, like Joe the barber, became a matter of public record. But others were more mysterious. There was a fancy Satsuma plum tree hidden in a remote corner of the yard that I heard stories about but rarely tasted. It didn’t produce much, and I learned later that most of the harvest was earmarked for top tier associates or red alert diplomacy.
The currency of fruit looked simple on the surface, but in the end it was an esoteric calculation beyond my grasp.
Growing up, I struggled to understand my father’s ways. All these fruit transactions felt embarrassing, like desperate measures or country bumpkin moves in a society that was more cool and sophisticated. I liked to think that I was the kind of person who objected to bribery, at least in theory. But I can see now that my father placed an uncommon value on every person who crossed his path, and he considered it his honor to place a piece of fruit into their open palms as they parted ways. He never knew when it would be the last time.
Some people leave and they don’t come back.
As a child, I would ask my father if he wanted to return to Karachi, the epicenter of his early life. I had seen a single black and white photo of his family– a mother, father, and eight children—so I had proof that these people existed even though we had never met. I only grew up with one sister. In comparison, my father’s family seemed as big as a baseball team.
In the photo, they were sitting stone-faced with their arms crossed, side-by-side in a long line of old fashioned wooden chairs, a bit more formal than your average dugout portrait on a bench. My father was a blurry figure on the left, fidgeting– the baby boy who would fly across the ocean to study in the U.S. when he was nearly 30 years old. “Don’t you want to go back, just to visit?” I would ask.
And he would always say the same thing: “Everyone is gone. What will I return to? An empty lost and found box? The trees?”
Today my father lives on the island of Kaua’i. He has no fruit trees of his own because he lives in a retirement community, so he loiters in the local grocery stores and chats it up with the produce guys. He wants to know what’s good. Do they have any insider tips? Should he get his hopes up about the pomegranates this season? Would they like his opinion on the fat grape he just slipped into his mouth? (It has a nice firm snap, but it was picked a bit too soon. He would be willing to offer a more detailed assessment after another sample.)
He’s not their average customer. When he approaches them, he smiles with great enthusiasm, places a hand on his heart and bows ever so slightly. The guys want to reciprocate, but his mannerisms are a bit confusing. They can’t quite remember what country he comes from. They have settled on clasping their hands together in prayer and doing a loose rendition of a yoga class bow. Close enough.
It’s not the same, living bereft of his own fruit trees, but every stage of life has its own chapter. He is making the best of it. Today he simply buys the fruit with which he tips the plumber and bribes the DMV clerk. He doesn’t have nearly as much material to work with as he used to, but what he has, he gives.
The fruit exchange had slowed and hit a plateau for a while until he discovered the Cosmic Crisp™ apples from a specific grocery store on the island in the past year. This was a major development. He believes that these apples are the descendants of the exact apples he used to eat in Pakistan. He cannot understand how his childhood apples have followed him to a remote island in the Pacific Ocean, but one does not question a gift of the gods lest the supply evaporate.
The apples have now taken the place of all other fruit which had previously been employed for social transactions. On a recent trip to the grocery store, my father purchased six apples and left with five. He gave one as a tip to the clerk who rang him up. He placed the apple firmly into the clerk’s palm and instructed him to take it home to his family. He explained how to slice it for maximum effect and offered a long-winded preview of the flavor profile. His eyes may have moistened just a touch. Then he disappeared into the night.
The clerk told the produce guys about this incident, so the next time my father showed up they gave him a free apple. Oh! That apple might as well have descended from heaven. Little did they know they were speaking straight to his heart. I think he’s approaching a full-on barter system now where both parties just keep giving the same apple back and forth. This is basically his dream.
If love is a language, his is cosmic.
My father will turn 80 in a few weeks. Getting that visa to come to the United States was not easy, and gaining citizenship was another matter entirely. Sometimes it felt like a miracle. Once he left his country, he didn’t have the heart to return.
Every stage of life has its own chapter, and with each one my father loses something he loved, but this cannot be denied: A boy from Pakistan made a new life in a new land, and when he moved to Kaua’i nearly 50 years later, his apples followed him. Across many years and lands and seas. Across cultures and religions and stages of life. It’s almost as if they had been hurtling through time and space at just the precise speed so that they would reunite with him again in this moment, to intercept his path in one final miracle of cosmic proportions.
Say what you will about the inevitability of love and loss, but sometimes what was lost is found, and sometimes dreams really do come true.
Written By: Nasreen Yazdani
See the post on Facebook and the comments of how this special story touched many hearts at this link.