To make up for the lack of peacocks in Peacock Grocery below my apartment building, me and my Cousin Anan would buy mini M&Ms to cheer ourselves up, before our Ammas took us to walk in and out the little streets between the buildings and villas of Passport Road, Abu Dhabi. Don’t worry, Amma laughs, we have the passport to walk this street. On the way, me and Anan would pour M&Ms into each other’s hands, offerings of our cousinhood, like communion bread we were not old enough to partake in yet at St. Joseph’s church.
One day, a red M&M falls into the patch of empty sand between my apartment building and the sidewalk. It’s like a seed, maybe it will grow. Anan smiles wide-eyed as he plants his favourite green M&M next to the red and I drop a yellow one a few steps away because my science textbook says roots need space. Everytime we walked by that sand patch since, we’d watch for trees dripping in rainbow M&Ms, pigeons and mynas nesting upon its branches and dream of plucking a new yellow or green or blue or red M&M off to bite into its chocolate insides.
But the harsh heat of the Gulf is not for M&Ms and so the trees did not grow. With childhood persistence, we kept dropping them into the sand patch, hoping that like the M&Ms, we too could take root in the Gulf we called home.
Artwork by Helen Levitt, “Cops and Robbers.”