Lantern Fruits Light up My Memory

A thù lù plant on one of the banks of Hương River

On those days back to early 80s, what do you think I did in my free time? Of course, no video games neither Youtube to entertain a bored kid as I was. All I had was a spacious blue sky overhead, wide spread green fields, hedges, bushes, and earth roads overgrown with different kinds of grass and plants on both sides. And they were where I found my snacks. Edible wild fruits and plants were literally everywhere. Beside raspberry, thù lù (balloon cherry or lantern fruit) was my other favorite.

I was first drawn to thù lù because of its lantern shape and the fine details on its shell. The fruit inside the thin shell is plump and rounded, which is why it’s called thù lù in Huế dialect. Most of all, I loved thù lù because it tasted sweet, sour and juicy. I haven’t seen this fruit again for so long until one day I ran into a thù lù plant laden with fruits, green and ripe on one of the banks of Hương River. I can tell you, to me, nothing was more beautiful than that plant filled with tiny lanterns, green and brownish that morning.

I picked up a ripe thù lù, shredding its brownish thin shell and crushing the fruit between my teeth. A sweet and sour juice came out with all of those beautiful days among the bushes and hedges of mine that I almost forgot.

I found myself lucky to run into such a fruitful thù lù plant. (This photo was taken after I had harvested the fruits from this tree for a few times. ^_^)

Thù lù’s buds
Branches laden with fruits
Ripe and green thù lù fruits
They were one of my favorite fruits from childhood.
A bunch of ripe thù lù
I held a piece of my childhood in the palm.
I still love its taste, sweet and sour.

Thù lù fruits after the rain