The bitter taste of Orange
21 February 2017
They lived in a small house by the sea and when the weather was not harsh he would go out with their small boat to get some fish for their meal., else they would have to rely on the barley porridge that Estelle made. The barley was bought thanks to the latest catch Bart had made and that he had sold at the village earning him some sacks of barley. Estelle, his wife, always thought that the barley was better because wheat tented to get musty in their small house by the seashore.
When Bart was not fishing either because the weather was bad or because the catch would not be good, Estelle stayed at home knitting. All of Bart’s sweaters had been made by her and she had even started making him full jumpers.
In the twenty years that they had been married they had never quarreled once. It was not that they got on well about everything but simply that Estelle had quietly said “Well of course dear Bart you are right. I am so sorry that I did not understand it right the first time over”. In the early years of their marriage Bart had thought her to be giving in out of love for him and then slowly started suspecting that he may be simply superior to her mentally. While this thought tickled his ego and made him sometimes want to stray away and find a girl who would be more his intellectual equal, the long time passed with Estelle made it impossible for him to even draft such a plan.
Estelle made an excellent marmalade of the oranges that grew in the orchard around the house. It was really strange to see oranges growing so close to the sea but Estelle had her way with nature and from the fist orange tree that she had succeeded in planting during their first wedding year, there were now more than 40 orange trees growing around the little house.
The best days were when Bart could get the fish and Estelle could make one of her special “Coulis” with the same oranges except that the taste was not at all like the marmalade she made but rather like some delicious soup-like sauce she used as dressing with some herbs to go together with the fish.
In all the years they had lived together, Estelle had expressed only one desire and that was to float in the sea as she did not know how to swim and he was not sure whether he could help her swim at the coast as that is where the waves were the roughest. He kept thinking to himself that he could surely do it one day when he did not have to attend to the catch as she would have taken up the space useful for the catch and made them lose money if he had given in to her desire.
One day, coming back from his usual fishing trip he found Estelle her face resting on one palm and her other on the table. In front of her there were oranges that she had seemed to be cutting when she had died all of a sudden. He carried her in his arms overcome with grief and lay her on the bed. He was thirsty from the day’s toil so thought he should drink something before dealing with the situation. He seized some of the oranges and swallowed them but their taste was extremely bitter and had nothing to do with either the coulis nor the marmalade that Estelle had made for them.
Bart went back to Estelle and wondered what to do. He knew he could not just bury her like anyone else. He cried with anguish at the thought that he had never fulfilled her desire of floating in the sea. His mind then made, he called for the local priest to bless Estelle. When that was done, he rowed to the farthest point of their coast where the sea met the delta and put her body in the water. He thought that she looked too beautiful to die. He wept in grief at the way the orange strands of her hair spread out in the water.
They say he must have got lost in the tempest that ensued because he never came back after her sea burial. Some say, he chose to go with her because living without her was meaningless for him.
The oranges in the orchard still grow and the women from the village come and pick them freely and somehow, they always have a unique taste for each marmalade made. The oranges which are strangely extremely bitter when eaten naturally make a heavenly marmalade when the right quantity of sugar is added. The orchard lives on….
Reading of the story:
Pink Orange by Instinct Primitif/ Intidhar Kammarti