Going Bananas, for it is in Giving that we Receive

Many years ago we brought a couple of banana plants from our hometown. One was of the sweet variety and the other the cooking variety. They were planted in a small patch of land measuring about 10 feet by 2 feet. We got one bunch from the sweet variety and one from the cooking variety and then the sweet variety died out. The cooking banana variety kept reproducing baby plants. A cousin once asked me if the bananas I had sent her were from the baby of the plant of the earlier bananas I had sent her, and I said, baby of a baby, of a baby, of a baby and now could be baby of a baby 20 times over.

In the photograph you see tall banana plants — taller than the height of the terrace. The plants with the banana stalks are heavy and have tilted on to the terrace with the bunches of bananas, making it easy to harvest when ready.

Before I go into the topic for the blog, some factual trivia about the banana plant that I found on the net when I checked for the collective noun for bananas.

  • The banana plant is a herb that is related to the Orchid family
  • What you see in the photograph are two bunches of bananas — all the bananas on one stalk is a bunch.
  • When you say, I bought a bunch of bananas from the fruit shop, what you actually bought is a ‘hand’ of bananas. Each hand can have 4 to 15 bananas — mine have 13 to 14 bananas in a hand.
  • An individual banana is called a ‘finger’. Try saying to an unsuspecting person, ‘I just ate a finger of a hand……….. of bananas’.
  • Banana plants like company, they do not do well if planted on its own. So grow them in a cluster.

I hope I have not driven you bananas with all the banana talk.

To the topic:

We have been getting a bunch of bananas every 6 months or so. They have been large — about 80 to 100 bananas in the bunch.

Distribution of the bananas is always a great joy, to family, neighbours, those who work for us, friends of ‘R’, our driver and soon they are all gone.

I casually once asked a neighbour if they had cooked the bananas, and he said they had cooked one (the size of the finger is quite large, big enough for 4 people as a side dish) and kept the rest in the fridge, for after all, how much banana can one eat. That set me thinking, and various issues and questions which were actually worries came to my mind.

  • Whose need was it? Was it mine in that I felt good that I was giving to others some of the fruit of the land? Did the recipients have a need for the bananas? For, after all they could afford to buy a banana or two if that was all that was required to make a dish.
  • What was happening to the bananas I gave them? Were they re-distributing them? Were the bananas left to rot? Were they cooking them in a variety of ways, challenging their culinary skills?

What I am trying to say is that something that I gave with so much joy and excitement could actually be a burden to the receivers.

Should I just forget about it and say it is now theirs, and I should not be concerned once the bananas are out of my gate.

Am I playing partiality in my distribution? ‘R’ once said, ‘I am taking out some of my bananas to give ‘this’ neighbour as they were watching while I was carrying the packets to other neighbours.

Now, you can imagine the mess I am going to be in, as two banana plants decided to flower and fruit within a week of each other. They will be ready to harvest at almost the same time — Distribution of about 120 bananas! I better start making a list.

I believe there are a few lessons here to reflect about — especially on the concept of ‘Giving & Receiving’

  • The mind-set and intention of giving is important. I gave the bananas joyfully and not with the intention of getting rid of something I did not want or with the ulterior motive of getting into the good books of someone so that they will be of help to me when in need. The intention should also be one of gratitude that I have bounty to share with others.
  • I could share with those who have a genuine need — someone who could make a meal for a hungry family or possibly give the bulk to an orphanage or an old age home.
  • I also learnt that I should ‘give and forget’ about what the recipients do with the gift, for it is now theirs.

I just realized that I was no longer talking about bananas — Giving and Receiving can be about anything — the bounty from your garden/land, a dish, a gift, a piece of advice or counsel, a compliment, time, a charitable act, a touch, a smile, a kind word and love of course.

Parents give, siblings give, children give, teachers give, friends give, and in fact we all give in some way or the other.

Give because you care, Give from a place of love

Give without expecting anything in return — no holds bar, for giving is reaching out and connecting.

What about Receiving? We see and observe others and learn how to give. However, we very often do not know how to receive graciously.

Take a compliment for example — most often the compliment is diverted to something inconsequential — ‘your saree is pretty’ — ‘Thank you, but it has a tear hidden somewhere inside’.

I had a friend (passed on) who loved to give. Initially, I felt uncomfortable, till I realized that friendship is to allow your friends to be generous with whatever they want to give, and of course to be received graciously.

And so receive a gift without guilt and without feeling obliged to give back. I have stopped giving a very old couple a dish that I knew they would enjoy because every time they felt obliged to give something in return and that to me was putting a burden on them. So, now I do other small little things like giving a cheerful, happy smile or spending some time with them once in a way.

There are two quotes which I like immensely that sum up the theme of the blog:

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed’. — Maya Angelou

For it is in giving that we receive’ — Saint Francis of Assisi