About a little girl and her fear for apple
2:16 And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou
mayest freely eat:
2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day
that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
“An apple a day; keeps the doctors away.” A famous saying which can be seen in posters and calendars (along with a baby with his hands in his lips and politely suggesting us to be silent) decorating the walls of most of the hospitals and clinics.
“This is probably the greatest irony. They ask us to have an apple everyday and lose their job.” Paul Jacob often said this to most of his friends. Among those the one who laughs heartily every time is Kevin James. Reason; he owns a dozen apple ranches and has a lucrative business like beverages, medicinal and even a perfume brand everything associated with apples.
Paul himself a lover of apples and the law, worked with Kevin and established their firm where Paul was the legal advisor. As a retired lawyer, he made his son Thomas a lawyer and gave his job as a Head legal adviser in Kevin’s firm to him. Thomas was married to Mariam and they had a baby girl. They named her Angela.
The Jacobs’ relations with apples had Mariam consume a lot of apples when she was pregnant. Angela was a 6kg baby when she was delivered. Because of some unknown reason, at the age of three they found something strange about Angela. She was diagnosed allergic to apples. It was nothing serious but the family felt something unusual about it. Nothing changed except that Paul had another irony to joke about.
Christmas was always a big celebration in the Jacobs’. It was their family who contributed a lot to resurrect the local church’s rather questionable old dome. Father Philip Curiocose a good friend of Thomas was always present at the special party in the evening every year, a gratitude for the new dome. Most of the friends and relatives always gather. Kids running around, the adults shouting above their voices, the elderly sitting around and cracking jokes (which only they could understand), were a spectacle in the Jacobs’ house every year. The most important ones, the apples were found everywhere in the house.
This was the fifth Christmas for Angela and the first time she understood what Christmas really is. She had three cousins and a lot of gift toys to play around.
The game “who eats most apples?” did not end well for Angela. When her mom found out she was through two and a half apples. First she felt like her tongue getting thick and found very difficult to breathe. In moments she was unconscious and was taken to the hospital.
Three days of projectile vomiting and the painful injections did not help. Mariam felt guilty for what had happened to her child. She felt she could have done more to stop Angela eating apples.
“Apples are bad, really bad my dear. Promise me that you will never eat them.” She said brushing Angela’s hair.
“Then why do we have a lot of apples in our house mommy?” Angela asked innocently.
“There won’t be any from this moment. Ok?” Mariam assured.
“If they are bad don’t eat them mommy. Then you might have to come to hospital too. These things really hurt.” She said pointing to the drips tube pierced in her forearm. Mariam couldn’t control her tears. She closed her eyes and motioned an imaginary cross with her right hand.
She said “Mommy will never touch an apple in my life. I promise.” and kissed Angela in the cheek.
“Pray to Jesus baby your pain will vanish.” She said closing Angela’s rosy tipped fingers and palms with hers and they prayed.
Mariam kept her promise forever.
For Angela this was a bitter experience with apples. For all she knew, she hated only two things Pluto (from Popeye the sailor man) and apples.
Apples are very bad!
Being born in an orthodox family, Angela grew into a devout Christian. When she was eight she went to bible classes taught by Rev. Philip.
Rev. Philip told many wonderful stories and explanations for the bible verses.
“Where did we finish last week?” he started glancing at a small group of kids. He always wondered what was wrong with his discourse that the attendance always kept dwindling.
“You said the story of how God created the earth and Adam father.” A little boy replied looking eager.
“Yes yes,” the reverend cleared his throat and started “Then God felt that Adam is left out alone in the beautiful Garden of Eden. So he created Eve from the rib of Adam. Adam and Eve lived happily in the garden with beautiful trees and flowers. Among them was the Tree of Wisdom. God said they can eat from any tree but not from the tree of knowledge.”
“What tree was it Father?” Angela asked.
Rev. Philip did know that there was no indication in the holy bible of any kind that the tree or fruit in the Eden is Apple. But during the medieval period the artists and poets needed some fruit to depict as the forbidden fruit. Conveniently in Latin, apple is called malus and the plural is mala. The word for evil in Latin was also mala.
Albrecht Dürer a German impressionist gave Eve and Adam an apple in their hands in his painting “Adam and Eve” and an English poet called apple as ‘The forbidden fruit’. He sipped water from the glass placed on the table and continued “It was an apple tree my dear. One day Satan in the form of a serpent came to Eve and said ‘Eat the apple from the tree of knowledge and gain powers like God.’ He instigated Eve to taste the delicious apple. This angered God. Adam and Eve were driven out of the Garden of Eden.
“They were driven out because they did not obey Gods command. The human sorrow began the moment Eve desired to eat the apple from the tree of wisdom. Apple became mans’ first ‘Symbol of Sin’.”
From that point, Angela did not hear anything. She was distracted. Everything was indistinct to her. Her mind was filled with hatred towards apples. She started to abhor it more than ever before.
Apple is the first symbol of Sin!
By the age of thirteen Angela was so much mature and understanding but her faith in Jesus and Christianity was undeterred. She was studying in the Holy Faith boarding school. Hence most part of her school education was away from her family. She had fewer friends and was always good in studies. So many things changed but her hatred for apples did not change.
On a fresh spring morning she was interrupted in the botany class and was given the news of her Grandfathers’ death. A car was sent for her to take her home. The Jacobs now became even richer had a lot of visitors to pay their last respects to Paul Jacob.
Paul had apparently died through heart attack. But what Angela heard from the maid servant was even more disturbing. It took her back to the chemistry class in school.
Mr. Francis who handles chemistry for Angela class is a very dedicated man. He always explained every thing with an experiment or an example in the class. Angela liked him for he was the best teacher in the school. Many liked him.
In one such class when he explained about oxidation and reduction he brought an apple to the class. “Oxidation reaction is nothing but the electrons…”
Angela lost track of what he was teaching the moment she saw the apple. Her eyes were fixed on the red fruit without a wink. She felt an urge inside her to run of the class.
Suddenly Mr. Francis took the apple and gobbled a chunk out of it. Then he placed the fruit on the desk showing the bitten part of the apple facing the class.
“Apple has a high content of iron in it. When a half eaten apple is exposed to air the Fe2+ ions lose their electrons to the surrounding air to become ferrous oxide. Wait for sometime till it changes.” He said looking at the apple. “This is the reason why the color of the apple changes to golden brown. Does anyone know what it is?”
“I think its rust sir.” One boy from the back offered.
“Excellent, yes it is. Ferrous oxide is nothing but rust.” He said conclusively.
Angela helplessly stared at the fruit turning from white to yellowish brown.
At the end of the class Mr. Francis seized the apple from the table and said “Now it doesn’t look tasty enough. I am not going to eat it anymore and no one should. Chemistry is a crazy thing and even could turn out to be poisonous.” He joked and pocketed the apple.
Nothing but the word ‘poison’ entered her mind. She couldn’t help noticing the half bitten apple for the entire class. She didn’t even remember the purpose of it being in the class. She felt like someone had placed it there especially to annoy her.
“Hello my dear!” a voice interrupted her and pinched her back to the present. She looked up somewhat dazed and saw a tall and lean man with some grey hair. His nose was sharp like an eagle which looked like misplaced in his gaunt face. He had a very thin moustache and his eyebrows were nowhere to be seen. He looked like the creepy guy from The Adams Family cartoon series. He wore a red colored suit pin for his dark suit and wore a perfume heavily smelling like apple.
She stared at Mr. Kevin James her grandpas close friend and her fathers employee. For Angela this was her first conscious meeting with the man her entire family is depended on.
“I am sorry my dear for your loss. It is even more painful for me to lose a friend like him. He was a great man and always will be.” James said offering her an apple from the table and left.
During the funeral James made an elaborate speech about Paul and his association with him and the apples which they both loved so much. Finally he said, “I wish my dear friend be buried along with the thing he loved the most. Apples!”
This remained Angela of the conversation her aunt and servant maid were having which took her to the very weird chemistry class. The servant was saying with a catch in her throat somewhat mourning “He was ok even in the morning. I served him the same breakfast he always has every morning, his favorites toasted bread, a boiled egg and an apple…” then she stopped listening.
James walked on to the open case and placed an apple on the chest of Paul and kissed him on the forehead. Angela felt shocked. She didn’t realize that an apple could her grandpa. She stood there staring at the apple in her grandpas’ chest. She didn’t move. She didn’t speak. Everything was spinning around her. She felt sick.
Apples are Poisonous!
As the days passed by Angela’s hate, irritation, anger and every possible negative emotion towards apple became Fear. Angela acted abnormally in the school. Her friends count started to dwindle. Many found her acting weird and paranoid.
But Angela found everything around weird. She felt like people she meets offered her an apple. People she saw were always eating an apple. People she talked with were always talked about apples. Everything around looked like apple and evil.
Her hostel warden called for her parents. Mariam was devastated to see her child looking haggard and paranoid. So they decided to take her…
“It’s a simple case of phobia is what I would say.” Said Dr. Elai an experienced psychiatrist specialized in children’s’ psychology. He glared at Thomas and Mariam sitting across the looking anxious.
In his years he had seen many cases like these. A phobic child’s fear for things like a dog, balloon man, ice cream truck, ghosts, darkness, loneliness and so on. But this was different. Fear of apples is totally new for him.
‘A fruit? That too an innocuous one?’ he thought.
After two hours of examining the child had given some clues of about how she developed her phobia.
After a long thought and nervous fiddling of coin between his fingers he continued, “A child’s mind is like a soft sponge, it will absorb everything around them. Fear is something that is fueled by misunderstanding and misconceptions. Whatever stories we might tell a child can mislead them in many ways.
“A classic example is the American billionaire Howard Hughes. When he was a little boy her mother used to bathe him several times a day and tell scary stories about germs. She used to tell germs are evil to him and it’s the only thing to stop him from achieving in his life. Later in his life Hughes became a Microbiophobic person and ironically died because some infection.” He said grimacing.
“We never did such a thing to her Doc. But I remember telling her to keep away from apples since she is allergic.” Mariam said in a concerned tone.
“That may not be the only reason. She has assumed that eating apple is a sin and she considers they are poisonous. I am not sure why she said that.
“I think it is not only one instant that affects a child. She may have watched something in the tele or read something that gives the wrong impression about apples. So it is our duty to take care of our child’s psyche. I have seen mothers frighten their children to eat by showing them street dogs and telling them some stupid stories to scare them of. Such things affect the growth of a healthy psychology. It is the adult’s responsibility that they inculcate the correct wisdom in their child.” He finished.
“Can it be cured doctor?” Mariam asked.
“It can be easily cured by constant care. First take her out of hostel keep her with you. Bring her here every week for a two hour session. Within a year it can be cured.”
“Thank you, Doctor.”
3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:
3:5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye
shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
There was a knock on the door with the letters stenciled in the center,
Dr. Angela Davids MBBS, MD Childcare Specialist (Pediatrician) Holy Cross Hospital
“Yes, come in.” Angela sounded sweetly. Now a twenty seven year old married to Dr. Davids a neurologist. She ran the holy cross childcare hospital especially for the poor kids in the town. Many things changed but she still was a faithful Christian.
The man who entered her office room was a tall man with a sharp eagle nose. He had deep black eyes with almost no brows. He had an air of authority and it smelled like apple because of his flavored perfume. Angela looked surprised at the uninvited visitor.
“Hello Mr. James. It’s a pleasure seeing you.” She recognized him only by his freakish look and an apple shaped suit pin that he always wore. ‘His trademark’ her grandpa always said about his dear friend. Angela eyed it anxiously.
“Hello my dear it’s been a long time since I have seen you. When was the last time we met?”
Angela preferred not to answer.
“Was it during Paul’s funeral? Yes it is I think.” He said.
Angela shifted in her seat uncomfortably.
He caught her glum expression and changed the topic. “My dear today is my birthday and I would like to offer these children something.” He motioned to his assistant standing behind him. His son suggested that it is a new PR strategy to boost up the business and his nose-diving image.
To a nervous Angela the three loads of apple basket brought inside her office did not help her. She felt uncomfortable to breath. Her palms became wet.
All those treatment by Dr. Elai ten years ago were coming under test now. At the end of the treatment Dr. Elai said she showed immense improvement from the treatment. He made her to change her pillow covers and window screens with patterns of apples. The treatment had ended and she went to The US to study medicine. There she met Davids who was so loving and caring that she entirely forgot her distaste for apples until now.
Apples are very bad!
“I wish to give these children a fresh apple from my own garden. Paul always says ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’.” He chuckled remembering Paul’s lame joke.
“Sure Mr. James, I welcome this gesture with great pleasure.” She said unable to control her shivering voice.
She remembered Dr. Elai saying “Do not resist fear. Fear is like pain, if you resist it the pain will be more. Just relax! Do not try to take the situation under control with force. Inhale and exhale deeply, close your eyes and swallow the fear.”
Angela started to sense a strange feeling creeping into her like a snake searching for its prey. She couldn’t help watching his eyes getting wider. She could see a small could see a small white line gradually growing in his old deep black eyes.
Apple is the first symbol of Sin!
“And here is one for my dear doctor. Be healthy and keep the kids healthy.” He placed a big red apple on Angela’s table and smiled mischievously.
“Thank you Mr. James.” She said still staring at his eyes. The thin white line started to get bigger. The old eyes without any brow to support looked frightening.
Now she was aware that her fear started to engulf her. It formed like a thick black cloud above her sucking up all the moisture that is left, ready to rain anytime. She felt hard to breath.
Nothing is wrong with you. You will be alright. Do not resist. Breathe in heavily. Apples are not bad and it is not a sin to eat them. Mr. James is not evil and he didn’t poison your grandpa. Come on. Be relaxed!
A lot of things crossed her mind, her Christmas tragedy, Rev. Philip, Mr. Francis’ chemistry class. Come on think normal. Nothing is going to happen. Inhale and exhale!
“Come on my young lady. Let’s have a picture for the papers. Let me present you this apple.” Mr. James quickly motioned to his assistant again and the photographer entered. Before she got up from her chair they were all set. It seemed like a well rehearsed photo session.
“Cover the plaque having the hospitals’ name.” he said somewhat grimly, but smiling. He posed like giving the apple to Angela. The flash went on twice. The picture came out in a jiff. The photographer shook his hand and offered the picture to Mr. James.
“Keep it with you my dear.” He gave the photograph to Angela and said “Eat the apple. It won’t hurt you. It will open your eyes to a new world. I will distribute the remaining to the children.”
Apples are Poisonous!
When she heard the last line she looked at Mr. James. His eyes sparkled. He had a wide grin across his face exhibiting his two big golden front teeth. And he walked out saying goodbye.
Angela trembled at the look of the apple in her hand. She nervously looked at the picture. Panic hit her like a bucket of water. She stood there drenched in fear. Mr. James posing in the photograph with the apple in his hands and his eyes, his eyes with a thick white line across his black eyes looking exactly like a serpent and a reflection of flash from his mouth looked like a thunder.
Angela suddenly remembered the story of Satan that Rev. Philip said once ‘God created Satan from the smokeless fire. When Satan rebelled for power in the heaven against god he sent him to wander on the face of the earth forever. In Christianity we always believe that Satan comes back as a serpent or as a lightning thunder’.
She shivered as a flood of cold blood flushed through her veins from her neck through her back bone. Everything in front of her blurred except the apple. She felt like a naked Eve who just dared to eat the apple the serpent had given. Bite me. Bite me and feel the tasty juice in me. Feel it in your tongue, feel it in your throat and feel the power of immortality.
She was subdued. It was hard for her to separate the reality from her imagination. Her head started to spin and she gave in. she gave in for the fear she faced for her whole life.
She took a bite of the apple. Everything went blank. She drifted into the sea of black.
Angela woke up. She looked around her. Nothing had changed. Everything was fine. She looked at the apple in her hands. She was relieved to see that she did not take a bite of it.
I will go check on the children. She thought.
She walked across the hall. None were to be seen. He entered the ward section. None here too!
She looked confused. She smelled the apple flavored perfume in the air. She remembered Mr. James and looked around for him. He quick walk around the hospital and seeing none made her tired and uncomfortable.
She ran back to the ward to check whether the children had returned back. None of her staff were to be seen. She glanced at each and every bed slowly. She did not understand. Everything looked blurred and confusing to her.
As she passed by a cot an apple fell from under the blanket. She gazed at the apple for a moment. Then it stuck her. She went to each bed and removed the blanket covered over it. Each bed had an apple in the center. She did the same for all the beds. It got vigorous when she found each bed with the same damn fruit everywhere.
“What is happening to me?” Angela shouted, the voice echoing in the large ward.
She ran to the front and saw an apple in the place of her dog Thriller, with the plate still revolving rapidly, apparently his favorite game.
She looked down the street for someone. But it went in vein. Angela stared at a sea of apple trees. She felt like being in the Garden of Eden.
It was evident that she crossed the thin line between reality and imagination. She disappeared across the line that the line seemed no more. She stared vacantly at the world of apples.
The world where the Laws of Motions of Sir Isaac Newton will never exist.