As I stood there to pay for my groceries, the enterprising lady behind the cash counter at Sheng Shiong kept pushing me to buy grapes. It was a cling worthy deal, 1-for-1 Aussie Table Grapes. What? Table Grapes? A term I had never encountered in my four decades of existence. Feeling rather uneducated, I rushed home to Google the meaning. And lo behold, it just meant fresh grapes put on table to be consumed rather than used for wine making. While I laughed at my newly acquired knowledge, the words table grapes managed to refresh one of my most comical childhood memories.
It was a casual visit to Mum’s friend’s place one afternoon. I must have been 8. The retail world had not opened up its doors fully and snacks offered to guests were pretty informal – like seasonal fruits. Well, well, I am spilling some beans here. With zero company for my lonely soul expect for a huge bunch of ripe greenish yellow grapes adorning the center table, I couldn’t help but drool.
As the women kept yapping undeterred, I looked to the left and then to the right. I weighed my options and moved my tiny fingers to reach for the grapes. Ah! I was so much better than the Fox from the kindergarten story. I managed to pull one and gobble it down. Sweet and juicy. A smile lit up my sad face while my fingers reached for a second, then a third. As Mom had something important to discuss, my fingers garnered speed while my tongue relished the feast.
An occasional tap on my shoulder or the roll of Mom’s eyeball in contrast with the encouragement by the hostess to carry on were just like punctuation in a sentence, needed but not to be heeded. My mind was with my Mom but my heart, with her friend’s kind words and my fingers absolutely working like clockwork on the grapes. It worked way better than any Montessori class to master hand-eye-mouth coordination in perfect synchronization. To cut the chase, I was polite enough to leave the soft stems that held the bunch together.
Back home, I was the Padmashree recipient of the ‘Grape Queen’ award that is greeted to date with giggling family members. I must say, some individuals find their first love early on in life and go on to develop fortitude for a reason. Connecting the dots, I may not have got it right with table manners but table grapes was totally my invention. Only if I had the common sense to file a patent.