Pomelo, or Citrus maxima: five stars for what is usually a three star fruit. The pomelo is the wild ancestor of the grapefruit. It is larger than the domesticated grapefruit, and the inner skin that encloses each segment is quite tough. The pomelo is also the last fruit that I will ever review.
Imagine yourself as a pre-agricultural man foraging for food in the rainforest. Naked and unashamed, you step out into a clearing. Before you stands a majestic tree, heavy with fruits that shine in the sunlight. You reach out towards the goldest of the fruit and at the slightest touch it falls down into your open palm. It is large and heavy, but you carry it easily for you are young and muscular and full of vigour. You tear at it with your teeth, exposing the thick white pith. The bitterness of the pith surprises you, and you consider spitting it out. But dribbling down from the tip of your canine into your lower mouth is a droplet of juice. The sweet, sour taste awakens some prescient spirit inside you.
“Behold,” the spirit calls to you, “the bounty of nature is a truly beautiful thing.”
“But,” the spirit asks, though in the æons to come you will recognise that the question was merely rhetorical, “will not the bounty of nature be even more beautiful once we teach it and guide it?”
I looked out from the prow of the boat into the constant monochrome fog. The irregular jerking of the boat and the wind beating against my brow were the only indications of our forward motion, but it was plenty enough indication for me. I could not see the great white beast that pulled us but I knew it was out there somewhere, tethered to the rope leash that extended out beyond the fog.
I heard a sudden cracking and tearing from below and I found myself being thrown forward, towards and over the prow. Later, I realised that it was not so much that I was thrown forward; more so, the boat had stopped quickly while I had continued moving forward. For the purpose of our current discussion, however, we can safely assume that I was indeed thrown forward. This is not a complete falsehood, as one may argue that, relative to the position of the boat, my own motion was equivalent to that of being thrown forward. Therefore, let us quibble no more on mere matters of relative motion.
Just as I was growing accustomed to my newfound forward motion, there came a new experience of downward motion. Fortunately, downward motion tends to be less ambiguous in terms of relative motion than forward motion, so in this case my own experience of downward motion more or less matched the ground truth of the matter. Abruptly, the downward motion ceased. When I opened my eyes, I saw that I was lying on the wooden planks of an old wharf, its ancient splinters sticking into my cheek. This wharf was the closest to solid ground that I had touched in a long time. We had finally made it to the continent.
I stood up to find the great white beast of a bird lying exhausted on the wharf. This beautiful meat machine had pulled us, boat and all, to the coast. It had liberated us from the wet expanse. It deserved its own liberty. I gently unleashed the rope harness from around its torso and tied the rope to a nearby wharfpost. I promised that I would give it our herring reserves before we left.
I wondered where we were, and how we could reach the grapefruit plantation from here. My eldest nephew was far too weak to walk, but I could not risk any further travel on that unpowered boat through that unknowable fog. No, I would have to carry him somehow.
In the kitchen I found a small trolley which Henry helped me carry off the boat. After we had packed our things, I did my best to ensure that my eldest nephew was as comfortable as possible as I placed his unconscious body onto the trolley. We followed an overgrown trail that led away from the wharf, leaving the boat behind. Henry and I took turns pushing the cart. We had no real direction to guide us; I only knew that I wanted to get as far from the ocean as possible.
The fog dissipated quickly as we left the coast, and Henry was able to take an astrological reading once night fell. The stars, finally, were in our favour. For the first day we followed the road north. We saw nobody and camped undisturbed in an open field. I replaced my eldest nephew’s saline drip and placed the zest of a lime in his mouth. I believe that I saw, in the dark, a flicker of movement in his face.
We continued heading north until we came upon a complex network of irrigation canals that supplied water to unkempt and unsown fields. Across the canals, past the fields, was a large river. I was certain that this must be the river L—-, the same river on which the grapefruit plantation rested. We just needed to stay on the river now. We stopped by the canal a while to rest, and I spent some time digging for the tubers from which grew the sprawling vines with bright purple flowers that covered the countryside.
For the next two days, we followed the river east. We passed through the remains of a vacated city and slept in the sheltered alcove of what must have once been a school. We had run out of saline for my eldest nephew’s drip. I took the juice of a tuber and tried to feed it to him, but it all returned from his mouth.
Around noon of our fourth day, we were free of the city and were walking the overgrown road that went alongside the river once more. In the distance of the road ahead I saw what I hoped was the plantation: a grove of trees, all the same shape and spaced too regularly to be a natural formation. Henry went ahead to look while I continued pushing the cart.
As Henry ran back, I saw that he was carrying something yellow in his hands: a grapefruit. It was the largest, most beautiful grapefruit I had ever seen; he needed to use both hands to carry it. I cut the monster grapefruit in half and squeezed the juice directly into my eldest nephew’s mouth, and he swallowed. We had made it at last.