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What did Aida say when she took me to see the mango plant that she had hidden among the banana trees? As she was very shy, she didn’t say much at all.

I think she felt an affinity with that plant. It was young, as she was. I think she wanted to show that she was able to nurture a piece of life, to make something grow and survive; that she had drawn up her own line of defence, there in among the banana trees. Surrounded by death and fear she had planted her little tree as a protection for the living, for things that grow.

But I do remember one thing we spoke about. What mangoes taste like. We were in complete agreement: if you eat one mango, you want to eat another one. Mangoes always make you want more. I asked her how long it would be before her plant was big enough to bear fruit. She didn’t know, but she promised to write and tell me.

Now, several months after I met her, as I am writing this, I can’t help but think about her name. Aida. One letter makes it different from the name of the disease. Just as one hair’s breadth separates life and death.

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