Silent Contemplation of the Seedless Grape

The skin was stretched tight, the color bearing the translucence of peridot, shimmering on the sun dappled breakfast table.  Was there anything more perfect than a seedless grape?  Who needs a pit taking up space within?  

Pit – an angry sounding word.  Did the word sound angry because of all its other connotations: a concealed hole in the ground, a trap, a sunken area, scars, depression? Because a seed – the very bearer of the genetic material that would result in future grapes – couldn’t by itself create this feeling of anger toward seeded grapes; this feeling of something lying there, waiting, of something building up and congealing inside.  Something ready to unleash a new wave, a new generation of confusion, of anger and of all forms of ferment upon one’s insular and smooth world.

She broke one off and rolled it around her tongue, feeling the velvety texture with her tongue, reluctant to break the skin, even if it promised a flood of unbearable sweetness coursing over her teeth and gum and finally down her throat.  The seeded ones sat there too, untouched, unwanted.  

Her shopping list had said “seedless grapes” but he picked up whatever the heck he wanted – not paying any attention to her needs, her desires or to any of the words that left her lips these days.  She had bit into one with extreme annoyance and then, without uttering another word, had grabbed her car keys and walked out the door to buy the green, large seedless grapes she wanted.

She cleared the table, shaking off her grape-filled reverie.  There were other things to do, other evils to taste or spit out.  With the most important meal of the day out of her way she could now some other fruits – blackberries, for instance.

She would soon be confronted by the fluid facial muscles of the guy she was forced to call boss.  His eyebrows, eyelids, saggy cheeks, pupils, would all swim up for a second or two and then swim swiftly back to the contemplation of his Blackberry.  He would expect her to prattle on about the things on her “plate” while he dove headfirst into his “fruit” of choice.  The urge to swat the thing out of his hand would be barely contained as she sat there, unheard, for the second time within a few short hours, on the same day.   She blessed him instead, “Be one with your Fruit, go forth and merge”.

The day had been half spent in the silent contemplation of grapes and blackberries.  There were other concerns, other forms of all consuming mindlessness to worry about but the pit within was growing and demanding all her attention.  She could feel it taking over, taking control inside.  There were several layers to it.  There was a hint of personal inadequacy, a tinge of guilt, a brushstroke or two of helplessness blended rather seamlessly with anger and impatience, the whole lot had then been die cast in the leaden weight of passing time.

Time with it’s illusory, rubbery feel.   She remembered when it stretched into eternity.  When the days seemed long and when a year seemed endless.  The world was full of possibilities because time appeared generous, giving and forgiving.  Depictions of the Roman Empire at it’s peak came to mind with fat emperors lounging around on plush thrones, biting off the succulent grapes proffered by the slave girls sashaying all around them.  

Just a few short decades ago time felt just as benevolent as the languorous stupor of a Roman king’s palace in the heyday of the empire.  Then came the realization that suddenly a year didn’t feel as long, that years were just folding in on themselves, piling up into a pile of debris in a corner of her consciousness, summed up in two words: the past.   At this stage even this realization wasn’t worth the effort.  One might as well date one’s letters, one’s bills, one’s work with the next year’s date because it was right here – just a blink away.  This dark, multifaceted pit showed every sign of expanding and taking over, bursting through the skin.  What ate Gilbert Grape was perhaps the grape itself, all the way from the inside.

She thought of her friends.  All like-minded souls with their own varieties of grapes to contemplate. Each one desiring the seedless kind and in sharing adding to the growing pits within each other.  

But in some ways her pits bore more of a resemblance to pitfalls…

1 Comment

  1. Awesome, Pragya!


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