Silent Thoughts On Pomegranate Trees

Remaining close to your roots is something that first generation Millennials have difficulty doing. As a first generation Mexican-American, I constantly try to find a place where I feel accepted and welcomed. With the immense diversity in America, looking for a sense of belonging from those who look like you does not always work. We all come from diverse backgrounds, whether it be religious, political, economic, or geographically; it is not as easy as matching the pieces to a puzzle. The fact that we are constantly moving from one place to another affects our sense of belonging. We all want to feel like a belong and one way we can achieve this is by going back to our roots.

Though we are constantly changing, from our appearance to how we think, we all want to feel centered. When we find that one thing that makes us feel centered and erases us from that pain of feeling lonely and lost, we feel safe and at peace. For me one way to feel centered is by going back to my roots and the memories I have of my summer spent at my maternal grandparent’s house in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. Here is a short story inspired by my childhood memories of my summers spent at my grandparent’s house.

There were always the pomegranate trees in the back of Josefine’s grandmother's house. The trees remained there all summer. Every summer, her mother would take Josefine and her siblings to visit their grandma in Mexico. There were many things Josefine would remember about the times she would visit her grandmother’s house. There was something that she thought about whenever she would come back from her trip from Mexico. Josefine’s mind would wonder back to the pomegranate trees in the back yard of her grandmother’s house. 

Those pomegranate trees were so unusual and unique. The trees would seem so out of place and that would add a sense of wonder in the mind of Josefine. Something very different from the brick buildings and houses on the lonely streets she was used to seeing every day back home in Chicago. Josefine was used to experiencing the cold and cloudy days that would seem to never end where she would find herself longing for sunshine just like the sunshine she would experience when visiting her grandmother. 

Whether it was Josefine’s imagination or not, but it appeared as if there was something different about the summers in Mexico. It was pretty much everything rather than a something. The sun would be higher up in the sky during the day, there would be the smell of burning coal in the air, the smell of freshly blossomed flowers, the wind would blow at a different intensities, and there was a smell to the air that was purer, perhaps unpolluted. The sky was painted with different colors ranging from light blues to indigo blues, green, purples, pinks, yellows, and oranges. and the clouds moved more carelessly. Before it would ever rain you would smell the raindrops before they began to fall. The dust that would rise up in the air as cars drove pass would be inhaled very easily, leaving a taste in your mouth.

As a child, she would run and play around these same trees that would be there every year she would visit. She wondered if the trees would ever die or if they would ever get old. It was satisfying in a way to be able to go back to something familiar. The pomegranate trees were something consistent in a world where nothing belongs to you and things come and go. The trees would not be any bigger or smaller but roughly the same. And it would be during this time in the summer that the pomegranate trees would blossom with new pomegranates. A bunch of tiny red pomegranate pieces gushing out dark red juice as you cut them open. These pomegranates would be delicious and Josefine’s aunts would be the first to eat them all. The pomegranates were plentiful because they would grow in bunches and it would reminded Josefine of her grandmother and her eleven children. 

It is now that Josefine visits her grandmother in her early twenties, just like she would when she was a little girl. The only difference now is that Josefine now travels alone, it is personal decision not based on obligation. Josefine had been thinking of visiting her grandmother  for quite some time now, though Josefine’s mother Maria was reluctant to let her. Maria is a traditional woman someone who would want her children to remain close to their roots and have some sense of heritage, which is why Maria would take Josefine and her children to visit her mother. It was difficult for Maria to move away from her native country where she would not be able to see her parents. As part of their childhood, Maria wanted her children to experience the place where she grew up. Everything from her village’s park, her mother’s garden, her father’s ranch, his horses, to Mexico’s hot summers, its weather and its sunsets. All of that whether she realized it or not became of Josefine’s childhood and became plastered in her memories. 

Josefine sits in the sofa of her grandmother’s bedroom where she looks out the window as a paletero passes by. It is an early morning in July and the summer sun is high in the sky. Heat waves are visible and old women walk pass with their sun protecting umbrellas accompanied a grandchild or by themselves. Her suitcases lay on her grandmother’s mosaic tile floor. A fan is placed in the room to keep the room cool and to scare away the mosquitoes. Josefine sits for a while contemplating where she wants to go out for the day and the sound of her grandmother making tortillas out of masa can be heard from across the patio. The patio remains clean where it had been previously swept with the homemade broom made out of thin twigs and tree branches Josefine’s grandmother keeps by the water hose.

Josefine leaves the room and she heads over to her grandmother’s kitchen. Josefine’s grandmother looks up from the ball of masa she has in her hands. The masa remains in her hands and she says, “Mija, I have some ripe pomegranates I picked this morning. I know you don't really like eating them every much, but I thought you might like to have one or two.” Josefine never really liked eating the actual pomegranates but this time she took the pomegranate with the darkest tint of red from the woven basket. Josefine cracks open the pomegranate and the juice spills out staining the white mantel on the kitchen table. Josefine tastes the strong and sweet taste of the pomegranate juice and says, “My mother and I never really agreed on most things, but pomegranates really are delicious.”