It was a sunny friday at Greenland Farm in South Africa and all the fruits were gathered in the middle of the farm. There were three main groups: Oranges, Apples, and Bananas. They were all at their places. Oranges and apples were very close to each other because they were all friends with each other. But neither of these groups liked the bananas, because the bananas were always behaving very arrogantly. The bananas won many competitions, which gave them special privileges. They were always making fun of other fruits for not winning. That is why they all sat together and no other fruits would talk to them.
That day the Mayor of the farm Mr. Peter (our pineapple) was going to give a speech. He walked on stage and began: “Welcome to the announcement party for the 5th competition among you for selection of the best and most gilt-edged fruit. Only one from each kind of fruit can participate—plus last year’s champion,” Mr. Peter added, invoking the rule that meant, again, two bananas would compete against one apple and one orange. “Whichever fruit wins, the whole group of that fruit will be selected and taken by humans to their homes. All others will stay here and wither over time. I know that each of you deeply wants to win this trophy and be saved from getting old. This is a great chance for each one of you to show your freshness! Embrace the warrior inside you! And work hard to be selected and win! The competition will be held in ten days. Get ready.”
Max was an orange. He looked at Marco, who was an apple and Max’s best friend, and said, “This is really getting boring. It’s been three years that bananas always win the trophy. It’s so unfair!”
Marco nodded sympathetically. “Who knows maybe this time an orange or an apple will win the trophy.” He smiled at Max the way that best friends smile. “I believe that if we work hard and show our abilities and talents we can win this time. Besides, we always win the running competition. Those bananas always finish last, despite trying hard. Oh god I can’t keep from laughing when Carlos trundles down from the mountain…”
Max smiled and laughed too. Carlos the banana was a very straight and high-hat personality. He was the reigning champion, so he’d be in this year’s competition no matter what. Carlos was arrogant, like the rest of the bananas. His weakness was his shoes. He loved his shoes and he wore them for every important occasion.
Carlos caught sight of Max and Marco, and came over to them. “Look how our little plumpy fat fruits are enjoying the party, just laughing and grinning.” Carlos stood above them, looking down. “I promise I will definitely invite you the party celebrating my trophy winning.”
“You better invite your stupid tall friends to your trophy losing party,” Max snickered. “This time it’s us who will win the trophy and you are NOT welcome at our party!”
Carlos laughed at this absurdity and stage-whispered to his friends, “Aren’t they so funny? ” until all the bananas joined in laughing at Max and Marco.
“One day I will make his skin brown with palm-tree leaves,” said Max, turning away in anger.
“Don’t listen to him. He’s just trying to annoy us. I think we’ll win this time. Now lets go out and enjoy the sunlight. It’s so good for our skin,” Marco replied.
But Max objected. “No, The fact is that we have to try to be like Carlos. We have to exactly copy Carlos: his work, his appearance, his character; even his taste. That’s the only way for us to win this time. The only way for us to win is by being a banana.”
Marco answered, “I think it isn’t necessary to be a banana to win this. The last three years we didn’t work hard enough. But if we work and train hard, maybe this time an orange, or even an apple, will win the trophy. I’ll be so proud when you win it!”
“Dream on, Marco. Of course I’d also be proud if you won! But in three years no oranges or apples have ever won the trophy. Only bananas. I have to find a way…I’ll figure this out,” Max announced.
“Fine, but dont do anything stupid, okay? Promise me?” said Marco.
”Okay Marco, I promise,” Max replied.
Max was thinking about this whole night. Max was an energetic, funny and pure hearted orange, he loved to help others. He and Marco were now a month old . As happens to all of us, these two adolescents faced a ton of emotions, and felt like they should be at the top and be liked and respected by others. They could not tolerate failure. It was true for them both. Max wanted to show the world that he can be much better than Carlos.
That night, as he lay awake staring at the stars, Max wondered, how can I steal Carlos’s abilities? How can I change the destiny which was written for me at the beginning, which was always being an orange, and how can I change the laws of existence and creation? During these years I have never seen one fruit to change into another one. How lucky is Carlos? He doesn’t need to be another one. He was born perfect in everyway. Or so Max thought, dreaming of his own victory.
Life can be sometimes very brutal, as it was for Max that night. He punished himself for a decision that was made for him and that he could not control: for him to be an orange and Carlos to be a banana.
Next morning Max’s mother told him to go to Garfields Garden (the garden in the neighboring farm) and bring her some green leaves. She was redecorating the balcony of their living room. Max’s parents were always the main support system for Max. They both wanted Max to be happy. Max also had a younger brother who was only a few days old. Always an obediant son, Max set off for Garfields Garden.
Rolling along, Max’s eyes suddenly fell on Mr. Krunberg’s hut. Mr. Krunberg, a kiwi fruit, was one of the farm’s oldest residents. He was a kind, understanding kiwi with extraordinary abilities. According to the other old fruits, Mr. Krunberg was capable of magic and did tricks in his youth. Whoever had a problem would come to him from all around the garden. And Mr. Krunberg had a close relationship with humans. He’d gained their trust by teaching them magic tricks. Max used to visit and play with Mr. Krunberg when he was younger.
Max thought maybe Mr. Krunberg can help me? He walked in the hut and Mr. Krunberg looed up from playing with his colorful birds. “Well, look who’s here to see me: our little Max is now a young and fresh fruit. You’ve got a great orange color, Max. Congratulations to you my friend.”
“Thanks,” Max replied, happy to be praised. “But I wish I could get other, better qualities, too.”
“Dont say that, you’ve got great qualities! Your freshness, fine colour, and your character are uncomparable among other oranges, Max. You have a pure heart and are extremely talented in sports. You have your own unique qualities,” said Mr. Krunberg.
“But it’s not enough to win the Best and Most Gilt-Edged Fruit championship. It has been three years that bananas are wining the first place. I have realized that to be on the top or to be seen, it is necessary to be a banana. I have decided to be like Carlos. I wanted to ask you to show me how I can be like Carlos,” Max replied.
“Hmmm.” Mr. Krunberg didn’t like the idea. “I still insist that you have your own unique abilities and creativity, Max; but it looks like you’ve made your decision. As for your question, I have to say yes—I do have a trick to change you into a banana. But I have to add that I can only change your appearance, and not your insides. You will be an orange with a banana look. Do you accept that, Max? You can never be as fresh as a real banana.”
“Yes!” Max exclaimed. “One hundred percent. I just know that to be selected I have to be a copy of Carlos.” Max had barely even heard what Mr. Krunberg said, he was so happy.
Mr. Krumberg gave a weak smile and walked upstairs to his kitchen . Max started exploring Mr.Krunberg’s living room, greeting Mr Krunberg’s pet flowers, his orchids and jasmines. An old brown chair sat facing the window beside a wooden table with a firefly on it. In a few minutes Mr. Krunberg returned with a glass full of a shiny, bluish liquid and said: “This is the mixture of magic for remodeling. It is for the ones who want to change into a different one. If you drink it you will be another Carlos.”
Max took the glass and said solemnly, ”I am sorry Marco. You told me to not do this, but this time I can’t let the bananas win. This time it is our turn!” and then he drank the mixture. Max’s head started spinning and then he fainted. When he opened his eyes he realized that he was in the bananas’ yard. He looked down at his long yellow body and grinned—Max was now a banana!
Carlos and his friends were nearby, and other bananas were preparing for the competition. No one recognized him as Max; they thought he was a new member of the bananas. Max watched quietly and he decided to imitate them and do exactly what do they do.
During these days Marco was very sad. He was always looking for Max. He looked for him around the farm and he asked everyone about him. He was so worried, remembering Max’s grim resolve to win the contest, and he wondered if Max would do something harmful to himself.
The day before the competition Max decided he must find Marco and tell him everything, because he also missed his closest friend, the one who looked for him everywhere when he’d disappeared, so he went to the apples zone. That was so ridiculous, it was a terrible idea! All Max’s old friends were looking badly at him. One of them shouted, “Hey you, walking banana, what are you doing here? Get out of our home, now!”
“Guys, relax,” Max said. “I’m your friend…”
But Marco interupted him: “You are not our friend, you are our enemy!”
Max did not back down. He stepped close to Marco and whispered, “hey Marco, my old friend, long time no see… relax, it’s me. I am the new Max!! You found me, you don’t have to look anymore. Pleased meeting you Mr. Marco Miller.”
Marco was stunned. “…what wait.. are you really…?” He was totally shocked. In fact he was not happy with Max’s new look, especially with the fact that Max had broken his promise and didn’t listen to him before doing this. But Marco loved his best friend, so he was trying to hide these negative feelings and just be happy to find him at least. They hugged, and Marco told Max how he’d looked for him over the whole farm during these days, and how much he missed him.
Max was happy too. “I’m sorry for not telling you at the beginning, but I went to Mr. Krunberg and asked him to change me.”
“Well….it looks convincing to me, but we still have Carlos to deal with. How are you gonna manage that?”
“In fact I have a plan for him Marco, and you should help me with it…” Max said mysteriously.
That night, the night before the competition, Max and Marco secretly went to Carlos house and took his favorite shoes. Carlos loved them so much. Carlos’s father gave them to him, and Carlos was wearing them in every competition. He thought they were his good luck….
Finally the morning came. It was competition day and every one was eager to see the winner. Groups of fruits shouted their names proudly, and participants came on stage one-by-one. Among them were Carlos, Marco, an Orange called Miranda, and the newest banana, Max. Everyone noticed Carlos’s sadness; he wasn’t as fresh as usual; he was sad because he had not anymore his favourite shoes.
Mr. Peter pineapple walked on stage and began, “Welcome to the 5th annual celebration of the Best and Most Gilt-Edged Fruit. The human jury will evaluate the abilities of our contestants. There are five categories of competition. We’ll test your running ability, shape, smell, color or brightness, and, most important of all, your fruit freshness.”
The contestants did their best, showing their abilities. Players were eliminated one by one, round by round. Coming down to the final category, freshness, three were still in the running: Carlos, Marco, and Max. The bananas felt arrogantly certain of their victory, having two out of three, and they were all cheering and dancing. Max was very excited.
Mr. Peter took the paper from the jury and said: “Hmmm this year is full of surprises. The winner from last three years is not the winner anymore. Many congratulation to apples, because the winner is Marco from apples colony!”
Everyone was shocked. Marco couldn’t believe that he was the winner. And he wasn’t actually happy: he wanted his best friend Max to win the trophy. On the other side, Max was shocked and upset. He couldn’t believe that an apple could win. He wanted to cry because he thought that he—Max, the banana—should definitely be the winner. Marco came up to him and hugged him. He whispered to Max, “you know I actually came here to cheer for you, I didn’t know this would happen. I would feel much more happiness if you would win. I don’t want this trophy.” Max, both an orange inside and a banana outside, was of two minds: his orange heart felt his best friend’s love, while his banana skin wanted only to be the winner. He looked inside himself.
“No Marco,” Max sighed. “I feel how blessed I am to have had you in my life. My sadness now isn’t for not being selected. It is because you, my best friend, are the real winner, and you will go far from me. I’m sad to lose you, but I am happy that you won’t wither with me.” They both started crying and hugging each other. Max took Marco on stage and gave him the trophy.
Apples were shouting and dancing. Max’s parents were also crying with a smile on their face. They knew how much Max wanted to win this trophy and also how connected were Max and Marco to each other. And now Marco and all the apples would go far away. They were taken by the humans and Marco and Max parted with tears in their eyes. Bananas and oranges would grow older and older and wither without any aim.
Days passed. Max withered, and at the same time he missed his friend, the way they used to play together. But also Max missied his orange look. He missed himself. One day as he sat next to the lake Mr. Krunberg came and sat next to him. He asked, “What happened Max, my friend? What maes you sad? Didn’t things go well?”
“In fact you were right, Mr. Krunberg. I should have listened to you. I actually dont know why did lost the trophy, but I definitely do know that I can’t be a banana any more. I’m bored of being something else. I think I enjoyed life much more when I was an orange.”
Mr. Krunberg replied, “it is because you tried to be a banana, but an orange can only be a copy of banana, never the real thing. If you were an orange again you would be the original one, the original Max. Instead of a second-hand banana you’d be a first -class orange. The diamond inside you can grow when you realize this and try to discover it. Maybe that way you would be selected. Marco won because he grew his diamond. Internal peace comes whenever you were able to keep the diamond inside you.”
3 March, 2023