My Apple Tree

My apple tree

Johna M. Aguilar

ON MY fifth birthday twenty-three years ago, I found among my gifts a big picture book. What fascinated me most was its cover showing a big leafy tree with big red ripe fruits hanging from its branches. My sister who bought the book for me gave me a big hug and whispered, “Yes, my dear apple, you now have your own apple tree.”   She knew apples were my favorite.

On that birthday, my family couldn’t throw me a party. My mother just bought me three apples which she wrapped in a colorful paper. That already made my day, but having an apple tree was something my young heart almost couldn’t believe.

I found the picture so fascinating that when I started going to preschool, I’d grab every opportunity to draw my apple tree. And I got excellent marks for my drawings.

My first-grade teacher scolded me when I draw an apple tree instead of a mango tree, as she instructed. When I told her apple tree were most   beautiful, she smiled and told me that inspite of my stubbornness , I was still her favorite.

Unlike the other children of my age who collected all the sort of dolls, I collected books and pictures and drawings of apples and apple trees. Quite odd,   some people might think, but during those early years, I already decided to be different. I developed the attitude of standing what I believed in and doing what gave me pleasure and happiness. We were poor and my mother would always tell me that I had to be strong and never feel inferior on account of our status.

My family couldn’t shower me with worldly things, but in spite of that, my growing years were promising. My apple tree gave color to my life and brought me honors.

One bright Monday morning when I was in Grade 3, I went to school early with my big art envelope. My teacher was sick and another teacher substituted for her. This teacher instructed us to draw with watercolor anything on the theme “My house.”

From those two words, I began to create an artwork...