Auntie Tricia's Guava Tree
It all started one day shortly after my 11th birthday. I was relaxing high in the guava tree behind our house. Have you ever climbed a guava tree, found a branch to cradle you, sat back and enjoyed the sweet taste of one guava after the other until all the ripe ones within reach are nestled securely in your tummy giving a feeling of supreme satisfaction? No? It really should be on your 'bucket list.'
But that day, my thoughts of how many guavas I might consume were interrupted by an urgent plea from below. It was the missionary neighbor lady from a nearby house, “Could I have some guavas, please?” She needed something that I had ! What a delicious thought ! Almost as sweet as the guava that was disappearing behind my lips at that very moment.
Swallowing quickly I answered, Of course, ma'am, I'm coming " I quickly uncurled myself from my current perch, and grabbed all the guavas I could on the way climbing down. I stuffed some into my pockets to be sure that by the time I got to the ground my offering would look impressive.
Thanking me for the guavas, she told me her name was Tricia Todd and that she and her husband Paul were missionary teachers at Hillcrest School and at Jos ECWA Theological Seminary respectively. She invited me into their house where I was introduced to yet another delight. It was not quite the exhilarating experience of fresh guavas from high in a guava tree, but the novel taste banana bread caught my attention. What other delights were waiting to be discovered inside the home of this couple from another land? I was soon to discover many treasures, not the least of which were Auntie Tricia and Uncle Paul themselves !
Over the course of the next two years, I became a regular visitor at the Todd's house. Together with my friend Emmanuel we discovered the pleasures of such culinary delights as pizza and chocolate cake. And Auntie Tricia taught us how to make them, too. And banana bread ! At a point, it seemed that almost every evening we'd end up eating supper at their house. Uncle Paul taught us to play chess. Auntie Tricia coached us in maths and English. If we were not at home, our parents always knew where we were: at the Todd's house. On Saturdays it seemed we spent all day at their house doing things like helping to wash the car and any little chores we
could find to help out. If we didn't see any snacks like cookies or banana bread ready, we'd make something ourselves !
On our birthdays, there was a special ritual. Emmanuel and I were taken to the near-by Challenge Bookshop and told to select our birthday present. Okay, so maybe a book was not the first thing on my mind as an 11 year old. It still wasn't on my 12th birthday; but the books were special treasures. To this day I have the dictionary that came to my hand that way. And the Todds had a whole library in their house where Emmanuel and I were free browse and borrow books of our choice. Emmanuel confided in me that he never liked reading before. It was the Todd's library that piqued our interest in reading that continues to this day.
Of course, there were many times after that when I climbed our guava tree to pluck some fruit for Auntie Tricia. But the 'fruits' I harvested from untold hours spent with Auntie Tricia and Uncle Paul remain a special treasure in my heart—an experience to rival the delights of eating fresh guavas high in a guava tree.