AN EXOTIC FRUIT THAT CAME FROM DISTANT CHINA once happened to move permanently to Athens. “In my country, I am called ‘Buddha’s hand’, but you can call me Citrus, as we are distant cousins!”, he introduced himself to the fruit and vegetables he met in the garden. What troubled them more however was not his name, but rather his shape, as they had never seen a similar fruit in the past.
“He looks like… a mop!”, they whispered to each other. As the days passed, they also discovered their new neighbor had even stranger ways they had never seen before: he would eat rice with chopsticks, always smile and slightly bow every time he met someone new. He even showed great respect to elders, always speaking to them in plural.
As much as his good manners surprised them, the gossip about his weird appearance would not stop. So the days passed and nobody approached him to be his friend. “I’ve heard that in China they are used to spitting in front of you”, the lemon, who was jealous of citruses, told him one day. The other fruit and vegetables were surprised with what they heard, as the mysterious fruit was always polite. “Well, it’s true”, said the much – travelled tomato, adding: “it’s not considered as rude in China though!” The lemon would take no step back, however.
So the next time they met, the lemon was tempted to spit in front of the exotic citrus. “Isn’t it what they do in your country in front of strangers?”, he told him, then kept spitting in front of him. The other fruit and vegetables gathered around them to see if they would end up fighting. The exotic citrus would not blink an eye however. Instead of replying, he picked up a mop and cleaned up the lemon’s sputter from the floor, not saying a word.
As soon as they saw the mop, the other fruit and vegetables, especially the lemon, turned red with shame. “Let’s only keep what’s best from each country!”, the exotic citrus told them, and they agreed, realizing that their nasty remarks about his shape had reached his ears.
Then, after apologizing, they welcomed him to their company and asked him to teach them as much as possible about the great Chinese civilization....