I stood watching intently, and amused, as she attempted to peel the ripe Sabbar. The juices ran down her fingers to her delicate wrists and bits of the peel covered the place at the table where she stood. She was determined to do it herself. That was part of what I loved about her, her determination, which, at times, bordered on a hard-headed stubbornness. Although she had seen it in the streets of Damascus, she had never eaten the sweet fruit in her life. Here, it was everywhere, a delicacy we took for granted. However, as soon as her lovely hands held one for the first time, I saw the pear in an entirely new light.

We had been out walking. I was showing her the area around where I grew up. She marveled at the number of cacti, Sabbara trees, as she called them, that were along the road. They were handsomely laden with their brilliant red or yellow pears. When I told her they were edible, the Saber, as we call them here, she insisted that we pick some and I, enthusiastic to share everything with her, carefully pulled them from their prickly nests. I took off my shirt and created a sac of sorts in which to carry them home. She giggled nervously after I cursed several times from receiving a poke or two, but she continued to cheer me on as if I were navigating an obstacle course. My pride would never allow me to pick less than ten and, after I caught her admiring my bare torso with a mischievous little grin, I continued on as long as I could.

I rolled the fruits from my shirt onto the kitchen table. There were at least twenty. I stood for a moment and admired my harvest until I caught sight of her hand moving in to fetch one. "No, habibti!" She pulled her hand back in alarm. I immediately put my arm around her slender shoulders and warned her about the nasty thorns. They were small but insidious, and caused great discomfort if they got under the skin. Naturally I knew this from years of experience, from having them embedded in my hands and arms. But I couldn't knowingly expose her to anything unpleasant. The only thing I wanted her to remember about Sabbar was the luscious taste...and me picking them without my shirt. So I washed each of them and removed as many of the thorns as I could without actually peeling them.

She insisted on using a potato peeler and somehow I couldn't bring myself to stop her. "I don't want to cut out too much of the good fruit. I tend to gouge things with knives." She told me confidently and with a look in her eyes that suggested I'd better not try to stop her. She tentatively peeled away the outer skin and then used a knife to chop off each end of the fruit. It took everything in me not to chuckle or to move in to show her the proper way. She was adorable in her awkwardness, so I bit my tongue.

When she cut off the ends she discovered the spines. At first she wasn't sure what to make of them. She muttered to herself as she inspected it by removing one of them. As she did, the rest of the outer skin pulled away revealing the edible fruit. I saw the light go on; her beautiful eyes sparkled with delight. "Ah ha!" Then the scolding. "Why didn't you tell me?!" Instead of answering I gently removed the well peeled pear from her hand and took a bite. Her eyes turned stormy as she watched my mouth envelop almost half of it but before she could reprimand me I put the rest of it to her lips. She took a small bite and let the juices and pulp roll around in her mouth. Her eyes immediately quieted as the pleasure of the taste registered on her tongue. "Sahha."

I sat down and quickly peeled more of them. I selfishly needed her to eat at least one more. I cut the fruit into small pieces and asked her to sit by me. With my fingers I placed each piece on her tongue after she had chewed and swallowed the one before. I watched her enjoying the sweetness, her lips moving sensually as she chewed. I gazed longingly as she swallowed, following each lump as it moved through her throat and down her long, graceful neck. After she finished the last bite, I kissed her and savoured the sweetness of her mixed with the nectar of the Sabbar. It was the most heavenly combination. Suddenly I had the urge to harvest every tree in existence just so I could feed her one every day for the rest of our lives. But we had enough to last us a few days, and other, more burning, urges overtook us anyway...

I had wanted to show her everything about my life here. However, I quickly discovered that, in fact, through her, my life was reflected back to me in a refreshing new way. Just by being here, by being curious, by being her, she transformed the simple Sabbar into a delicious memory of that day, of her. I would never ever look at it or taste it in the same way again.

by Mariyah


Dubai Jazz said…
This is a very delightful read, Mariyah. Thanks!

I've been reading 'Zakeret Jasad' (literal translation: Memory of a Body) by Ahlam Mestighanmi on and off for a few month now. The story is told by the protagonist in the first person, and the accurate portrayal of a man's thoughts and way of thinking is striking. Something you've done here quite skillfully.

Not that we're hard to figure out, mind you :)
Gabriela said…
It was a complete surprise when I read Mariyah's name at the end of the post.
In Perú we have this delicious fruit too. We call it tuna (yes, just as the fish, which is atún in Spanish). It's a summer fruit. We have red tunas, like the one in the picture. But the most common are green. Indeed, you have to learn how to peel if you don't want to end full of those little elusive thorns.
Once again, delightful post.
Karin said…
BEAUTIFUL post dear ... a sheer pleasure to read!! I have to admit I have seen countless of these fruit but never tasted it ... I will one day, I promise - especially after having read your beautiful post!
I was a bit baffled to see you posting on Abufares' blog, find it a great idea though!
Big hug from New Mexico!!
Mariyah said…
DJ: Thank you so much for your nice comment. I'm not sure I could write an entire novel in a man's voice. That would be a challenge. :) I figured, however, since Abufares invited me to write here, it might be fun to try something from the male point of view. I did grow up with four brothers and often draw from my experience listening to them when creating male characters.

It's a pleasure to see you here.
Mariyah said…
Gabriela: Thank you so much. Abufares and I thought it would be a fun surprise! I was so thrilled to be invited to write here.

I'm glad you are able to enjoy this lovely fruit too. It is delicious. :) Take care, my dear.
Mariyah said…
Karin: After Sea Side, Abufares invited me to write something here once in a while. I thought the subject of food might be appropriate. :)

You likely have this type of fruit down where you are living now. You really should try it. I think you'll enjoy it immensely.

Thank you so much for your comment. It's a pleasure to meet up with you here. Hugs to you!
Abufares said…
What a beautiful surprise Mariyah. Thank you so much for this beautiful gift.

You were really reading my mind when you wrote this sexy piece. Saber will never taste the same anymore. Even the awkward Damascene word "Sabbar" sounds delicious when you write it.

I'm sure most of my regular readers (if I permit myself to believe that there are any) were delighted with this post but they, like me, are shy to express themselves:-)

Now I have to wait for your encore. Please don't make it long, my waiting.
BIL said…
Hello Mariyah,
It was a pleasant surprise to see your post on this blog:-) Now that the both of you have finished your wonderful manuscript together, I think I can speak for the regular readers of Abufares that we look forward to the next work of art. As for the Sabbars, I can remember seeing them in the food stores selling as prickly fruit back in the 80s when I was in Oklahoma. However, since living on the east coast, I have not seen them as yet. But if I do run across them I will certainly try them once again. You are right that they can be somewhat difficult to enjoy (the same can be said for certain people). But with enough patience one will reap the wonderful benefits of the tedious work involved. Again, please do not stay a stranger from here and enjoyed the both of your efforts in making a fine story. Spaeter.. The BIL of Abufares
Anonymous said…
Abufares , you took me back to JABLE,the uncovered sabber were sold on ice
sweeeeeeeeeeet memoris

ps, just returned from patagonia, we had nice time trout fishing
OH - what are you doign here? HEhehehe that WAS a surprise!!! Lovely post indeed - I shall have to try this fruit now ... if I can find it. soon as her lovely hands held one for the first time, I saw the pear in an entirely new light.

Oh that line ...My mind ....
Abufares said…
Hello my friend
Mariyah wrote this post so she reminded you of Jableh and reminded me of so many "beautiful" things :-)
Mariyah said…
Abufares: All I can say is thank you, dear friend. I very much enjoyed writing a little piece for you blog. It is very generous of you to share your "home". I will certainly be thrilled to come again for another visit.
Mariyah said…
BIL of Abufares: Thank you so much for your kind comment and words of support. I very much appreciate it.

They are a delicious fruit and I do hope you'll be able to find some. I was able to get them while in I had assumed they were widely available. Perhaps not...and that's a shame. Maybe you'll get lucky.

All the best to you. :)
Mariyah said…
Lê: It is a lovely, sweet fruit. Thank you so much for your comment. I hope to see you again.
Mariyah said…
Fantasia: I love finding out what goes on in your mind! ;) I'm so happy to meet you here. Glad I could surprise you!! Thank you for your comment, as always. :)
Anonymous said…
Hi all,
I always read the AbuFares post's comments firstly;So this didn't surprise me.
As a wine taster,i can distinguish between Abu Fares writing and the others;I believe that Abu Fares is an artist and master(Mo'allem Kabeer)!!
But here i can say it's very nice post!!
I suggest to write a mixture article .
Thanks to all.

Mariyah said…
Anonymous: I agree with you. Abufares is indeed a master. A writer/blogger I very much look up to. I was honoured when he invited me to post here. Thank you very much for your comment and I hope we will have another collaboration in the not too distant future for you to read. :)
Joseph said…
Greetings, Mariyah and Abufares. My apologies for the inexcusable late comment.
I only had to read the 1st line, to fall in the trap and be confused .... slowly but surely, your luring scent lead me to scroll down to ascertain my unconscious prediction. Voila, Mariyah!
Compliments to the artist, this was rather, a clever and sensuous landing here upon these shores of Abufares’.
Most delighted to see you here; Did I tell you how much I love Sabbar, Mariyah!?
Mariyah said…
Joseph: Have I not said, my friend, that any time you can make it is a good time? Your comments always make me smile. :) I, too, love I have just recently discovered. ;)
Joseph said…
@Mariyah :-)
Analog Girl said…
I found this most Delightful post while rabbit-trail meandering from one blog to another. I most definitely will be back to explore some more!!

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