The Wages of Sin
Several weeks ago, I stopped at the Islamic Center. I had been watching a row of orange trees along the perimeter of the property adjacent to a parking lot. They were heavy with fruit. I could hardly believe that nobody was picking them. Perhaps I was mistaken in my impression that they were ripe.
I parked my car and looked around for somebody who might give me permission to photograph and to sample the oranges. Nobody was around the mosque although there were several cars in the parking lot. I figured I’d done due diligence in my effort to obtain permission and proceeded toward my objective. Stealing oranges from a house of worship.
The oranges didn’t look spectacular, but they were orange and the sky was a lovely benign blue, and I figured that homegrown oranges probably don’t have flawless skins like store-bought oranges. I even found the patterns on the skins to be interesting. I was amazed that orange trees, laden with fruit, flourished unmolested by man or beast. How had folks from the adjacent business parking lot resisted them? Where were the birds?
As I turned around to walk back to my car, I saw a perfect orange lying at my feet. It had fallen off the tree almost as if it were a gift to me. I picked it up and walked back to the center where I sat down on a concrete support underneath a palm and looked back at the dome against the sky. I was having a fine, warm day in the sun.
I began to peel the orange. It looked fine inside. Then, I took a big bite. Oh, dear. I cannot describe the bitterness of that fruit. It was awful. I began spitting and choking and desperately wishing I had a drink of water. Immediately, I grabbed my camera and hurried toward my car. On the way, I saw two men emptying garbage cans into a dumpster at the corner of the parking lot. I’m certain they saw me tasting the bitter fruit. I’m also fairly certain they laughed. The next week, every one of the oranges was gone from the trees. Not one remained on the grounds. “The Wages Of Sin” flitted through my head. And I chuckled.
NOTE: The alem is a finial or a sign that is essential in the construction of a mosque. The history of this construction of this architectural element is interesting. Thanks to Nia and Ottoman Dandy for their help here. billgncs tells me the name of the orange tree is “Seville” which is confirmed by Wiki. Thank you too.
There really is a “sour orange“, George.