I’ve known durian all my life. When I was a kid, we lived in a house which has a gigantic durian tree beside it. My father said my paternal grandfather planted it. He also said it was my mother’s favorite food when she was still pregnant with me. Maybe that’s the reason this has become the most delicious fruit in the world for me.
My father is a farmer and took good care of the durian tree. He has this passion of growing plants. I would always see him putting fertilizers on that tree. When one of our pigs died due to an unknown insect bite, he buried it under the tree telling us it will serve as the tree’s food.
Durian trees are different from other trees. They are very dangerous when they bear fruits. The fruits are covered in sharp spines and fall out of the tree once ripe. If a fruit falls on person’s head, it can cause serious injuries. When the fruits are ripening, my parents wont allow us to go near it. They used to cover their heads with plastic basins to protect themselves while picking up the fallen fruits. I was only allowed to do it when I was already a teenager.
Durian season was a happy season for us. I remember the durian–eating-spree we had each night since for some weird reasons, they mostly fell at night. I remember the times when they kept me awake since the fruits fell on our roof and made very loud noises. It was also a time of abundance in our home. They are very expensive that my parents could earn Php10,000 in one day. It meant they can pay off their debts (there was a kind store owner who lets us owe some grocery items for a year and then my mother will pay her once the fruits were sold). It also meant they could buy us delicious food and decent clothing. It meant a lot specially for us who grew up less privileged.
We no longer have the durian tree nor the farm. It is now owned by a politician in our place. I remembered hugging the tree and thanking it for all the good things it gave us before we left. I was really sad but I think it was my father who had his heart broken. I even promised myself back then to buy the farm from them when I grow up and have enough money. It took years for me to accept that we could never have it back. From time to time, the owner would send us fruits. That was kind of them.
Every time I eat and smell durian, I am reminded of the big old tree: its shade, its rough trunk, its long branches, its golden leaves and its fragrant flowers. I wish they are taking care of it like my father did. Some people may find its smell revolting, but for me and my family it was a pleasant fragrance that brings back all good memories of the tree that had saved us not just once but many times from poverty.