Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It Was A Tree

It was a tree. A tree like any tree you may see in the street. You may see huge melancholy on its branches, as if it was carrying burden of the hundred years it ages. But its trunk proudly stands against stormy winds. A lot have been said about the tree in many different religions and cultures. Many myths and stories surrounds this tree and it's blesses.

It is said that its fruit was the first fruit Adam, peace be upon him, tasted on earth. The same tree has many names in many different cultures. It is known as Christ thorn Jujube, Siddir (or Annab in Arabic) which is recommended by Islamic Medicine. Traditional medicine also has a lot to say about it. Its leaves are used to cast off magic spells, the scientific name of Nabk Trees.

This tree is full of benefits whether its trunk, leaves, flowers or the fruit and its seeds. It is cultivated southern Asia, between Syria, northern India, and southern and central China, and possibly also southeastern Europe though more likely introduced there.

It is believed to alleviate stress, throat soothing, gum problems, ease the stomach, keep bugs and other insects out of the house and free of infestation. Even the honey that bees make from its flowers nectar is very expensive because of its benefits.
A funny thing, the sweet smell is said to make teenagers fall in love, and as a result, in the Himalaya and Karakoram regions, men take a stem of sweet-smelling jujube flowers with them or put it on their hats to attract women.

Although it's an evergreen tree but it tends to pour down its leaves during every single day of the year. How do you I know that? Because I used to sweep its leaves for fun in my grandparents' garage and at times in our garden.

Seeing the round yellowish round fruits on the ground made me forget all about my paranoia and hygiene issues and pick as much as I could carry in my both hands. Washing them with water and drying them with tissue papers there was nothing left but to taste them.

One bite and I literally could say I was charmed. Charmed with this holly fruit taste and what it represented to me. I was no longer there. All I could sense was the sweet honey taste on my tongue and the thousands thoughts, sensations and memories I never knew they existed.

Standing on a three step ladder, with grandma next to me, holding on to me to make sure I was standing safely, on the roof where the dove were roaming above our heads, and birds singing in their nests. Grandma holding on to me while I carry the bucket where we keep the fruits we collect.

Reaching my hand to a nabk fruit that a bird took a tiny bite, reluctant to pick it, I recalled grandma's answer when I used to tell her "but the bird took a bite!" she would reply "Yes dear, it took a small bite to taste it to tell us this one is sweet, take it. It's yummy so the bird left it to us"

During the 1991 war, when we were at my grandparents' house, we spent most of the clear shinny morning playing badminton. Whenever our feather shuttle flies high it get stuck in the branches of the two gigantic trees. We usually attempt to start throwing things, anything you name it, until we call our grandpa to help us. Thousands of tournaments took place under the shades of those two beloved trees.
At school, wars were raged between classes. You see the boys throwing stones and girls run to collect. Each student would throw his best shot and each girl runs as fast as she could to collect the magic fruit and split "fifty-lifty" as we used to call breakeven shares. At times Stones would pour down on student passing by to be sent to ER, nevertheless, that doesn't mean to stop hunting for this sinfully delicious fruit.

After 1992, we moved to a new home where there was one of those trees. It never stopped to amaze us how many pairs of shoes we found when it was time for trimming the tree. We would laugh and make stories about how those people had to leave barefooted.

A handful of fruits and I felt that was it. They are the same fruit. They are the same colour. They have the same smell But in Iraq this fruit was taster and therefore, I had no more.

Here is the second pick :) I know its not as seductive as cherries nor as funny as strawberries but I wouldn't trade them for any of those.

That's all for now

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Blogger khalid jarrar said...

omg the mere sight of nabog brought bag a bunch of memories!!


1/14/2009 1:51 AM  
Blogger attawie said...

Allah y3afeek :)

There's a train of Nabog stories that keeps rushing back to me just like "flashback attack".

The image of our tiny fists holding so dear to a handful of Nabog. The jumping up and down when an adults was helping us to pick in a more creative ways. The alert behind the windowpane at home, waiting for a blow of winds when it was so cold to attack the poor tree. The await of the rain and how it would help the tree to pour down nabog on us. It makes me feel homesick.

1/14/2009 7:07 AM  
Blogger David said...

That was a very nice story Attawie. I especially liked the part where your grandmother helped you to pick the fruit. :)

So, does it taste like an apple? Some of the fruits on the plate look like apples. But, some look like potatos. ;)

Does the Jujube tree grow in UAE also, or just in Iraq?

1/14/2009 8:06 AM  
Blogger attawie said...


It all started when I found the tree the day before yesterday :)

I've seen many trees in UAE in different places but the tree looks sick. I don't know if saw them sick because they look simply different or because I miss our tree. But What I have noticed is that the fruit in UAE looks like stones and doesn't look edible. But this time I found the fruit looks like the way it look back in Iraq!

About the taste :)
It's not like apple, but same sweetness. It's not like potatoes but same crunch of the yellow ones. It's not like anything I've taste.. it's simply unique nabog :)

1/14/2009 8:14 AM  
Anonymous Hwa Rang said...

I do not know why I am commenting here :P
But we have in the Jordan valley Seder trees, alot of this kind of trees,and also in the places that are between Alghour and the mountins "Shafa Ghour"
Also, we have another kind of trees called Nabog, but this Nabog looks like apple but it is much smaller.
To my information, you can find Seder trees around the arab world, cuz i saw it in Saudi Arabia, Lybia, Sudan, and now in UAE.

blesses :)

1/15/2009 12:46 AM  
Anonymous Hwa Rang said...

plz do not judge my spelllings cuz i am sooooooo Tired.
mountains :P

1/15/2009 12:53 AM  
Blogger attawie said...

Hwa Rang,
During my stay in Amman I tasted nabog only twice and both times the nabog was from Iraq. I remember the fruit you used to bring. What did you call that? we call them gawja :D

Many countries do have nabog but they are not the same type we have in Iraq. Most of the types I've seen looks more like nabog 3ajam (the Parisian type). The fruit is considered blessed in different cultures!

on and never mind typos.

1/15/2009 7:19 PM  
Anonymous Hwa Rang said...

hi Atta,
the Nabog is a wild tree you cannot plant it, likewise, the seder tree.
The fruits that i used to bring is not Nabog either Seder.


1/16/2009 11:42 PM  
Blogger attawie said...

Hwa Rang,

Nabog is sort of sidder tree. and you can plant it and I'm pretty sure about that :)

as for the fruit you used to bring, it sort of cherry. we call it Gawja in Iraq. Same family as Alu balu (i know silly name) I don't know what do you call them in Jordan.

1/19/2009 12:26 PM  

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