Four days later, the still-green bananas were cut down from the tree and laid to rest in the back of a truck, alongside cousins from all across the plantation. All except one. She, a foot long and more, was left behind to continue growing, like a solitary stalk of wheat after harvest time. The leaf-fronds of the tree, having equally loved and delighted in all of their offspring, now poured all their nurturing energy and whispered affection onto their one remaining charge. They coaxed and cooed, affirmed and encouraged, trying to wash away the memories of those silly, teasing songs. The unbent banana heard the leaves above tell her that they were glad she’d not been taken away from them, that they liked her, and that they were proud of her size and shape.
“Why be nice to me?” she asked.
“Why not?” they replied, seemingly confused. “You are ours.”
“But all I’m going to do is rot – I’ll probably catch a disease or something and end up killing you too.”
“That makes no difference – it wouldn’t be your fault if you did. None of this has been your fault, you know – you might as well blame us for feeding you.”
“You fed the others just the same, and they were alright.”
This time no reply came from the leafy canopy. They wanted to say how stupid it was that some European politicians could make rules about what was and what wasn’t the correct size for one of their precious ovaries, but they let it go.
“Maybe I should just grow and see how big I can get,” the banana thought to herself, halfway between masochism and parent-pleasing.
In the entire plantation, not a single other banana remained. Neighbouring trees, long stripped of their loads, could now see her. Now she was theirs as well. She herself was bloated but encouraged – almost happy, in a way – and beginning to yellow and ripen. And then she was cut.
The plantation owner took her, measured her, took several photos of her, and put her in the fridge. Cold and completely dark for the first time, she considered her position. Now separate from the tree, she could feel the life in her ebbing away – slowly, but ebbing nonetheless. Maybe the plantation owner had kept her growing out of curiosity, or for a special dessert – she could handle that. But when the door reopened, it wasn’t the table for which she was due, but an office. A small, thin knife was slid into her side, a small chunk of flesh removed, and then voices.
“Very nice, actually.”
“Yes sir – very nice, sir.”
“And the length?”
“Length sir? Forty-two centimetres, sir.”
And so it was. No longer teased and laughed at, this one banana was planted in the greenhouse, fed, and replanted outside. A label was attached to her stem as it matured into a trunk:
Bred for strength, size, and flat-packing
Before a banana browns, or even ripens to a sickly-looking yellow, it is watched intently from above. Bananas are ovaries, and very important – the privilege of living to develop your own stem, leaves, flowers and fruit is the most cherished hope of all.