There has been a development on the mandarin fruits front. It has become somewhat of a debacle. I arrived home yesterday to find that large signs had been placed on each of the ceremonial mandarin bushes. They said "NOT FOR EATING !!!!" Yes there were four ‘!’ marks. The dopey and normally sleeping security guard was on full alert as I walked up the drive and he followed me through to the lobby. When I paused to examine the bushes he looked very anxious and he appeared equally relieved when I walked on to the lift.
As I opened my apartment door I found an envelope with my name hand written on it. The letter inside was typed. It said: "Mr. Peter Charles you are required to meet with the Building Management. Please ring the office to make an appointment".
I rang straight away and I spoke to a Mr. Tan. We arranged to meet the following morning at 9.00am - in the Building Management Office. I told Mr. Tan that I was looking forward to it but he did not seem so enthusiastic.
At 9.00am on the dot this morning I presented myself to the office. A very stern looking Mr. Tan was there along with two other people. Both were women who I had never laid eyes on before. Mr. Tan introduced me to the women but I don't recall their names. I did however recognize the voice of one of them. Two days ago it had been shrieking down a telephone at me, "Oranges eat cannot". Over and over again. Neither women looked very happy. I shook hands with all of them and suggested that we take a seat.
Mr. Tan said to me, "You have been seen to be eating the fruits in the lobby"
I said nothing. No question was involved so I thought it best to remain silent for the moment and see where this was going.
Shrieking women added, "You have eaten the fruits".
She said this without shrieking.
Again - there seemed to be no question yet so I continued not to comment. I merely smiled and nodded in agreement. There was an awkward pause. We all looked at each other. Sensing something further needed to be said, Mr. Tan advised, "The fruits are not to be eaten"
"Why is this Mr. Tan?" I enquired.
"Is this not like telling the tenants of this building that the pool is here but it is not for swimming? Or that the gym is there but cannot be used for exercise? What is the rationale of putting a fruit tree in the lobby yet no one can eat the fruits?"
Mr. Tan looked confused and shrieking woman looked angry. I suspect that she is always angry. The other woman just looked terrified. Despite the direct questions there was no effort made by any of the three to answer my questions.
"The fruits are not to be eaten" Mr. Tan repeated.
"OK" I replied.
"Point taken. So these fruits can never been taken?
"Never." responded Mr. Tan.
He appeared very adamant.
"So how much do these Mandarin tress cost? I enquired.
There was some brief jabbering between Mr. Tan and the Shrieking woman. In Hokkien. Mr. Tan then advised, "Manadarin shrubs are $100 each"
'OK" I said and I pulled out $200 from my wallet and put it on the desk.
"So these trees are now mine." I declared.
In a lightning blur of movement Mr. Tan grabbed up the cash and stuffed the notes into his trouser pockets.
"So I can now eat the fruits whenever I want?" I enquired of Mr. Tan
"Can" replied Mr. Tan.
He was beaming now but the Shrieking woman looked even more angry.
"Good one" I responded.
Then I stood up and left.
On the way back up to my apartment I removed the "Not for eating!!!!" signs. When I returned an hour so later I stuck up my own hand written versions that said "Eat Me"
Between now and the end of next week I intend on devouring the lot of them.
Perhaps I shall also make some mandarin jam.