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One day when I walked past Spadina Avenue in Toronto, piled mangos in yellow and orange on a fruit stand caught my eye. A memory of a sacred mango from almost half a century earlier came flooding back to me.
It was in 1968, two years after the Cultural Revolution had started. Mao Zedong had dispatched the Workers’ Propaganda Team to manage colleges and universities across the country and reform the so-called “rotting intellectuals” as well. My family lived on one of these university campuses.
One evening when I was washing up bowls and chopsticks from our supper, a high volume loudspeaker suddenly blasted: “Revolutionary faculty and staff! A golden mango bestowed on our respected Workers’ Propaganda Team by the reddest sun in our hearts, Chairman Mao, has arrived on campus.”
Listening to the inflaming announcement, I imagined a fruit full of spikes glowing, based on the word “golden” and the Chinese words for mango. I’d never see…