The Durian Story
Four years ago, I dropped by in Manila to see Manong Ralph, who was in his freshman year in college then. Over the phone, he told my parents he wanted durian, that glorious-smelling, scrumtpuous, pulpy, milky fruit which happened to be his favorite. Until know, he still has the uncanny ability to finish off one fruit entirely on his own, without ever getting sick of its taste.
So before I went to the airport, my parents stuffed more or less seven seeds into a plastic container, which I had to handcarry so I could give it to him the moment I'd see him at NAIA in Manila. It was as big as a normal lunchbox, sealed with layers of packing tape and cellophane wrappers. This was a necessary precaution so as to lock in the smell. People inhabiting Luzon, after all, find durian the most disgusting, awfully smelling, and ugliest fruit ever created. Their noses can detect even the slightest concentration in the air, and the smell would immediately repel them as if it were a biochemical weapon of some sort.
I was confident that no smell had leaked out because, in the first place, I was allowed to board the plane, and nobody complained during the flight. Upon disembarking, however, I overheard comments like, "Ano ba 'yan! Ang baho?" and "Ay, ano 'yan, durian? Ang baho!" "Pano nakapasok 'yan dito?" The Luzon-people-durian-alarm-system was visibly at work.
I thought, "Is it possible that the smell came from my bag?" I was tense, I was irate, I was nauseous. They could have me imprisoned, or worse, shot, for having brought an alcohol-free, illegal-substance-free, love-filled gift to my brother.
So you know what I did?
Without batting an eyelash, I joined the cacophony of complaint. I said, "Ay, oo nga, ang baho! Amoy durian! Yuccch!"
Minutes later, I saw it, like an apparition: a scene of a man carrying two huge durian fruits stacked on his baggage, which he dragged around the arrival area with his trolly.
It wasn't me, after all. The smell didn't come from me.