By Suhani Mahajan
A letter of thanks meets an inner reflection of taught and inherited values in this short essay.
Prompt: Reflect on something that someone has done for you that has made you happy or thankful in a surprising way. How has this gratitude affected or motivated you?
Ever since my parents introduced me to solid foods, I’ve eaten a banana almost every single day. Mumma believes that it’s the bananas that have kept me alive up until now. I jokingly like to say: “A banana a day keeps Mumma’s wrath away.” Either way, that’s a lot of bananas.
In some ways, my maturation can be measured in stages of banana.
Stage one: Mushed. When I was a baby, Mumma would mush a whole banana in hopes of getting me to eat a fifth of it before puking. It was a lovely time. I was too young to protest the strange texture and sickly sweetness of bananas beyond what my digestive system allowed, so it was a time of ahhh, mmh, and gulp. I had blind faith in whatever Mumma was stuffing into my mouth with a rubber spoon. Looking back on it, I realize that this is how Mumma taught me how to trust.
Stage two: “Peel it yourself.” Let the records state that I was not an overly dependent toddler. I just took advantage of the fact that I could get my parents to do everything for me. “Mumma, pick me up?” “Papa, can you put on my socks?” “Mumma, will you peel my banana for me?” Mumma drew the line at the latter. I must have been not even two years old when she stared down at me and raised a stern eyebrow. “Peel it yourself. I’m watching.”
She ended up having to open that banana for me; I only succeeded in making it disgustingly squishy. But in the years since then, I’ve felt comfortable trying new things because Mumma’s shown me that everything can be fixed; there’s no reason for me to be afraid of trying something new.
Stage three: “First things first.” Throughout elementary school, when I’d come home, the first thing Mumma would say was “First things first!” which meant Wash your hands, DON’T pick up that book I see you pulling out of your backpack, and eat a banana. “Priorities” would have been a foreign word to me then, but now I know that that’s what Mumma was teaching me. It’s thanks to careful prioritization that I have been able to complete the goals I set for myself. I’d be beyond lost if I hadn’t learned how to organize my life early on.
Stage four: Half. By my sophomore year, I never wanted to see another banana – let alone eat one. But Mumma refused to let me eliminate bananas from my life. We had a long (two days), strenuous (not one bit) debate that ended in a compromise: every day, I’d eat half of a banana and she’d eat the other half.
Through this compromise, Mumma taught me both the value of my opinions and the importance of considering others’ perspectives. And she taught me how to find the balance between both.
Stage five: Making my own decisions. With luck, I’ll be out of my parents’ hair in less than a year. Mumma has been trying to prepare me for this final plunge into independence by giving me tastes of it here and there, the most recent being the choice to eat a banana. Do I dislike the taste of bananas? Yes. But have I come to understand that bananas are pretty good for me? Also yes. And more often than not, I eat a banana every day. It’s taken a while, but thanks to Mumma, I’ve developed both the ability to know what’s good for me and the willpower to prioritize that over my surface-level desires.
Though bananas may never be my favorite fruit, I cherish their irreplaceable role in the lessons Mumma has brought me up with. I am prepared to face the world head on as the independent, persevering, brave, strong-willed girl I am.
It’s all thanks to Mumma — and the bananas, too, I guess. 🙂
I had to take a really hard look in the mirror to write this piece – and I don’t mean the mirror on my wall opposite my bed! I took long walks and thought hard about what meant most to me. What had I picked up in the last 17 years, and how did I wish to portray that. Since always, my mother, Mumma, has been my person. I tell her everything – including all my ideas about this college application essay looming over my head. It was then that it clicked; I had no other choice – this essay had to include her. I did not think it was possible, but brainstorming for this essay together brought us even closer than we were before. Reminiscing on our experiences together over the years put into perspective how much I’ve grown as a person. This essay is a reflection of that introspection.
Suhani is a lively teenager currently stressing over college applications. In her free time—which is rare—she enjoys rereading Pride and Prejudice and munching on chocolate.