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The Mulberry Tree (Foreigner? Refugee? Displaced? One of Us!)

03 May 2010
by Naneh Sahakyan

There are mulberry trees in front of all the houses except the one in that street. The tree stands inside, in the garden, it is very small. Mrs. Varsik, our neighbor, planted it recently. A mulberry tree is very strong; it can grow even in dust, unlike the slim and capricious apricot and peach trees which hardly survive in the fertile soil of the garden despite all kinds of care. They even manage to complain. Mrs. Varsik felled all the peach trees in the garden and planted a small mulberry tree there. No one argues against mulberry trees being for children. Judge for yourself. Who except children will take the trouble of climbing the high branches of the tree and picking the small mulberry seeds? We shake the tree and eat our harvest right there beneath its shadowy branches. The old women have their share in the harvest too. After all, they planted the trees, didn't they?

It was the end of June. The awful wind was shuddering the windows in my room. The whistle coming from outside through the open window woke me up at midnight.

"Never heard of such wind in summertime", I mumbled half asleep, half awake, and went up to the window to close it. Suddenly something moved in Mrs. Varsik's garden.

It was Mrs. Varsik. She was trying to roll a heavy stump towards her gates. I decided to call on her the next morning. I saw the cut-off trunk at the gates. Then I entered the living room. There in the center was Mrs. Varsik's refugee son's photo. Her son had left the country because he was unable to make his living here. He had gotten married and had children somewhere far away from his mother. Mrs. Varsik had never seen her grandchildren.

The photo in the center of the room was sent from afar.

"Good morning Grandma Varsik, my granny asks you over for a cup of tea", I said.
"I am writing a letter to my son, we can go together if you wait a bit for me to finish it. Who knows, maybe he will receive it".

I remembered her writing thousands of letters like this before. She managed to send them somehow but none got to their destination.

"Oh goody, you go out to the garden and pick some cherries; my backache is awful and I can't do it myself", she told me.

"Why does your back ache", I asked, meanwhile picking some cherries.

"The wind had opened the gates at night. I went up to close it and found out the lock was gone, so I had to roll the stump to close the door."

"Grandma Varsik, you should have left it open. No one would enter your place."

"I didn't think of someone entering my house, deary, what can they steal from me? I was just afraid the strong wind may root out the mulberry tree I planted for my grandchildren. When I heard the wind whirling I ran out automatically to do something."

Mrs. Varsik's mind was only occupied with her son and grandchildren. This was the reason she had planted the tree inside, in the garden, for the mulberries not to be dusty, for her grandchildren to come and eat them clean. The mulberry tree will surely grow; its trunk will spread all over the garden, but will Mrs. Varsik's grandchildren be able to come back some day? Will they be able to try their granny's tasty mulberries?

Wrote at 14 years old age