Can you imagine the prehistoric women eating bananas? Do you know how a woman nowadays eats a banana? How bananas are eaten at the plantations in Cyprus, Africa, Buckingham Palace? Do you know how a man eats a banana? How a searcher of garbage cans eats a banana, or a comedy actor, Bananaman? How does Alice the Chimp eat a banana? What will you think of first if you pass by a group of guys eating bananas at the same time? Are they athletes before a training?
I am curious how you eat a banana, personally (if you do eat bananas at all, of course). For example, how do you peel the banana? Which end do you start the peeling from? What do you feel while you peel it? What do you feel as you open your mouth wide? What do you feel when you bite it? What do you feel while you chew it? And what after you swallow it?
Let’s imagine that you have attended a reception, here comes the fruit, many hands reach for the crystal bowls and the golden plated trays with fruit pyramids one after another… will you reach for an orange, a kiwi, or a banana? Why the orange? Why the banana? Do you maybe wish for the banana, and yet you take an orange? No, you are a person who takes exactly what he wants, so, a banana then? And? Do you stay here and peel it where you are or do you go somewhere else? Does it come to your mind to take another one and offer it to your collocutor so that you don’t eat alone? Or you maybe say: “How about splitting a banana, one is too much for me?” No, you reject that option, it’s not polite, how will he take the peeled half? Each one should take a banana of his own or rather no banana at all. You have already taken it, started peeling it, it becomes smaller and smaller under your indifferent bites, as if you eat a cookie, and listening to your collocutor, you have even forgotten to enjoy in it, carried away by his story… but, still, it feels good in your stomach… Or maybe you mind that you are forced to listen, so you can’t concentrate on its taste… or you act as if you enjoy both the conversation and the banana, and actually you hurry to get rid of the object in your hand that makes you feel that the gentleman and the lady chatting in the corner glance at you strangely… or maybe everybody looks at you and smiles… or, even more tragically, even your collocutor is sure that you have no idea what you nod about while you chew with your mouth full. Or, you have imagined all of this. Nobody pays any attention to you and your banana, and your palms are already sweaty, and you feel sick in your stomach.. Oh, no! Oh, yes! You have a problem with the banana! With the banana, with freedom, with gender, with state, with yourself, with the others, with the whole world, if you prefer. The banana as the problem of the individual. The person, entity, subject, identity.
That’s the way it goes. Everybody has his banana, pardonne! his story of the banana. It would have been nice is we only had bananas, without any stories about them. We would have eaten instead of rattling.
* * *
Mhmmm… juicy, bright yellow, with small black dots. So, my story. Well, I wouldn’t have waved my banana before your eyes if, while I was resting my eyes on a beautiful Sunday afternoon recognizing trees and rock figures on the mountain across I wasn’t forced to leave the layered view of my balcony and withdraw blinded to my hiding place, my bunker, my secret chamber, heavenly chamber, kingdom, children’s room, bedroom, temporary room, forced room, only possible room or, actually, call it as you wish, but understand: only to eat a banana in peace. And I underline: nobody ask it from me, really nobody.
The question was: Shall I sacrifice the pleasure of the banana or the calm view? And I wished I could consume both of them slowly, with gusto, nibble on them with pleasure, not even thinking about this dilemma, yes, and without looking for eyes where there were none: on the deserted streets, behind closed shops, behind the mosquito nets stretched on the windows and balcony doors, on the hairs of the grandmas chatting under the balcony. Precisely, there was no living soul interested in me, but there was a chance of a glance that made me cover up and move to my favorite, lonely little nest. There, I indulged in the process or vice whatever.
* * *
Once upon a time, there was a little girl (so the story), her name was Lena, she sat on her bed with her legs crawled, “because you don’t sit with your legs spread”, and she ate the banana. She ate it thoroughly, as if she had never seen one. She peeled it half way. She unglued the long stripes from its upper surface, she lifted them as spaghetti high above her head and swallowed them. Then she dived into the peels and she took the softer, meaty contents of their inner sides. She chewed it although it was not sweet enough, and her mouth shrank, but she left the tastiest part – the banana itself – for the end. Times were such that one could not take it against her. A banana was an event, a Christmas or an Easter event, or something when you get sick. People really felt like getting sick for a banana, like the princess did for an apple… or was it the prince and the apple?… whatever. In that country there was a custom when her majesty Banana was absent, the people ate its substitute, or lady-in-waiting, generally known as “little banana”, which had no relation with it, except for the similar name. Those were the ones with an individual wrapping for five denars and the ones sold by kilo for three denars per piece. Some things never change.
So the girl went for the banana. But if she eats it at once, the pleasure will finish quickly and she decided to enjoy each gram of it, to eat it long, long, long… Not because the times were poor, but because the banana was sweeter that way. She opened her mouth wide, put the banana in, but didn’t bite. She took it between her teeth and skinned its upper layer from all sides. She took it out of her mouth. She melted the contents on her teeth and swallowed it. She put the banana in her mouth again and stripped it a bit more. After several mouth movements inside-out the banana squeezed in her right hand, she reached its mid part: moist, soft and gentle under the fingers. She took banana’s heart out. She was happy. She licked it, and then she bit it. She enjoyed while she chewed the mushy mass, she swallowed it with sorrow and she continued exactly the same with the rest of the banana.
“Come on, don’t pretend, Lena! Eat nicely! You don’t eat a banana like that! Eat it as it is supposed to be eaten!”
“But I like it like this!” the little girl protested in defense of her indulgence and she didn’t know why her father stared at her instead of doing the crossword puzzles in front of him. Not knowing how to explain the reason for this new prohibition, she only sorted it under food-related scolding and “You don’t eat a banana like that!” fell in between “You don’t eat with your mouth open!” and “You don’t sing while you eat, you’ll marry a Gypsy!”
Since then, the little girl ate bananas behind her father’s back or where she thought nobody watched her. She ate bananas and grew up, eat a banana and grow up, eat and grow and up she grew.