One day, much like any other one, a couple of the Experimental Station workers came by my dad's office at the house.
This wasn't so unusual, since my dad was the Station's rubber expert (as in hevea —also called India rubber or Amazonian rubber) and he needed to be kept in the loop of happenings in the field. What was unusual was that they seemed nervous and uncomfortable.
I wondered if it was another complaint about us kids "liberating" the latex that dried along the tapping grooves of the rubber trees, and which they were supposed to collect, measure and track. I happened to be one of the main "liberation" agents...
After the men left, my dad wanted to talk to me. He didn't seem angry, so I breathed a little easier.
But my relief turned out to be premature.
The men had brought news —bad news—, and it had to do with Bambi, the fawn I had raised since he'd been found as an orphaned baby.
I had bottle-fed him, and we had become inseparable —at least until recently, when he'd started to grow antlers and he'd begun getting out of the yard and disappearing for hours at a time.
We had put a bright red collar on him, so people who saw him would know he wasn't wild.
But the collar had failed to protect him, and hunters had claimed him.
The men had come to deliver the news, condolences for Bambi's death, apologies for not knowing it was my deer until it was too late —and an invitation to dinner...
I was devastated.
More than that, I was horrified that my parents were going to attend the dinner and eat him!
My father, and then my mother, tried to explain that they had to accept the invitation in order to show that they forgave the hunters for accidentally killing Bambi.
Of course, they would also convey my regrets for not attending, as I was too grief-stricken to go.
* * *
For the next couple of days, I would only speak to the mango tree.
I would nestle in its branches and hug its trunk while I cried for Bambi and spoke endlessly about my grief, remembering all the good times we'd had, and which would never again be.
* * *
As I got older —much older— I finally left my grief for Bambi behind and understood why my parents had done what they did.
But it was an intellectual understanding, not an emotional one.
Emotionally, I never did forgive my mother and father for eating Bambi.