By now, the fruit man should know I hate Durian.
I have tried to signal my disgust in as animated terms possible without disparaging his profession nor the tastes of my companions.
The local shopkeeper has let him pitch his table up outside her convenience store and he is there every day when I go to buy my diet coke.
His offerings vary. Some days he has rambutan… sticky with juice and crawling with ants. Other days he has lychee with skin so tough as to rival a blister package. And then there are the little mangosteens which don’t look like they offer much fruit at all.
They are all just feeble placeholders until the next batch of Durians arrive.
He sits by his table, touting his wares to everyone who passes. He’s a fruit pusher. A cigarette dangles languidly from yellowed fingers as he mumbles something that sounds like “good, good!”
No I still don’t want the Durian.
Lest he interpret any communication as an overture of interest in his product, I resort to ESP: For the love of God just keep it away. My thoughts are loud.
Without actually making eye contact, I convey that I know my failure to adopt a taste for the king is some kind of shame. I know Singlish, I can navigate the island better than any cab driver, I can order my kopi-C-kosong with barely a trace of accent… but my localization will always be incomplete.
Note to self: take holidays in July.
Even when all his fruit has been sold for the day, he remains, sitting around, smoking and eying up potential clientele as they make their way home in the evening. A pile of empty shells is there to keep the air pungent and remind me of the threat. Without thinking, I quicken my step.
On thing is for sure: I’m cutting back on diet coke until the season is over.