How the Jackfruit Turned a Bishop into an Archbishop
Jackfruit is God’s special gift to the human species. It was probably created in the midst of a famine when all crops had failed and there was little to eat. God needed to provide food for starving millions in a hurry and loaded the jackfruit tree with hundreds of heavy fruits. Even when all the branches were overloaded and bent God didn’t think it was enough; so he put more, much heavier fruits on the tree trunk.
Because of its mission the jackfruit was made very versatile; it could be cooked when green and eaten raw when ripe. Some fruits are a bit too sweet, but many are heavenly delicious. In tropical areas round the world jackfruit is the savior of the poor. However, there is one little problem; it has to be cut and handled with skill and care because of its very sticky sap. Sometimes when the jackfruit is cut open by an unskilled stranger it leads to funny scenes like the true incident described below.
Long time ago when the Mer Thoma church of Kerala was still controlled from Syria, a Bishop was sent to replace another who had died. He was lively and rather young looking for the post of bishop. He had come to the tropical climate for the first time and as everything was done differently in this new culture, he was full of curiosity. Because of his friendly, jovial disposition people were always ready to help him.
One day the new bishop noticed a huge jackfruit in the kitchen. Being where it was the Bishop had no difficulty imagining that it was a fruit or a vegetable, but he had never ever seen such a thing and his eyes opened to their widest limits in wonderment. His excitement attracted everyone into the kitchen. He wanted to know all that the others knew about the jackfruit and the people around him explained the best they could. The Bishop’s ignorance of a common fruit quickly turned the atmosphere in the kitchen rather merry.
Having heard and learned all about the jackfruit, as soon as the bishop was alone, he thought he should cut the funny looking fruit and look inside. With a big knife as he cut the jackfruit, the jackfruit began to pull him inside of itself. The flowing white sap covered his hands. The knife stuck to one to one of them. He tried to wipe the other on his beard and had great difficulty pulling it loose. He noticed a sack full of cotton lying nearby. Thinking that he might be able to wipe his hand and the beard with the cotton he pulled some out of the sack. In no time his face was covered with cotton and his beard was twice its size. He looked more like Santa Clause than the Bishop. After struggling for a few minutes he realized that he was in bigger trouble than he could handle. He shouted for help and on hearing him people began to come into the kitchen.
On seeing the sight of the bishop turned Santa Clause they began to laugh. Word spread fast and the entire community congregated in no time. All got wrapped in mirth.
Everyone was having a good time. One of them remarked; “We began with a Bishop, thanks to the jackfruit, we now have an Archbishop.”
The bishop was furious. He shouted curses including, “For this you will all suffer mental retardation”
Some people believe that incidence of schizophrenia in the community is still high due to the Bishop’s curse.
February 4, 2006