On sweaty, clammy summer days, my (grandmother) would stand in the backyard at 4 pm exactly and call us all inside to grab a slice of watermelon. I would rush in with all the kids from the neighborhood, and we would crowd around the patio table. One after another we would grab a slice and lie down on the grass. Watermelon brought us all together every day. Even those who weren’t out on the streets playing hide and seek or just loitering around the neighborhood would join for the small watermelon party. It was a part of the routine, a perfect mix of sweetness, freshness, and warmth. We didn’t care about much except that we were home, surrounded by each other and there was watermelon to combat the heat. Someone would throw around a frisbee or a softball and we would instantly get up to play until the sun set in hues of orange and pink.
The 4 pm watermelon call from Dadi became a marker of time, signaling the arrival of summer. Even the sounds of the neighborhood seemed to pause momentarily as we gathered around the small table. For us, watermelons became symbolic of summer, community, friendships, and home.
Whenever I think of summer now, I think of the lazy afternoons that await me after the painstakingly long year. The kids who would gather around in the backyard for watermelon are all in different parts of the world now but the backyard is still there. On days when some familiar faces are back home for summer, we still sit in the backyard with slices of watermelon on the patio table. It’s a reminder that despite years passing by, old neighbors leaving, and new neighbors settling in, a bowl of watermelon can still bring us together on a warm, lazy summer afternoon. There is laughter accompanied by the gentle hum of conversations that bridge the years between us.
In these moments, surrounded by the echoes of childhood and the warmth of shared memories, the backyard does not remain just a physical space anymore; it becomes a repository of stories, a reminder that, no matter where life takes us, the backyard and its slices of watermelon will remain a touchstone of home.
Manahil Faisal is Deputy Opinion Editor. Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.