I have a weird relationship with tomatoes.
“Tomatoes will make your cheeks rosy”. Mum always whispered that to me at the dinner table.
Then she would say, while pointing at the TV, “Look at that girl on the TV. She has rosy cheeks because she eats lots of tomatoes. Isn’t she pretty?”
Before I was able to say anything, she had already handed me a bowl of sliced red tomatoes sprinkled with a little bit of salt. “Eat this so you’ll have rosy cheeks too.”
I hate tomatoes. I would have liked to say that to Mum, but I knew very well what would happen if I complained. She will fill my bowl with more tomatoes.
I wished there was a quicker way to eat those tomatoes. I could pick them one by one to prolong my agony, or I could shove them all in my mouth and quickly swallow them all.
I chose the second one. The faster I did it, the better. I simply want to get it done and over in a flash.
Days and weeks had passed, but I never noticed any change on my cheeks. It never turned rosy. I pinched my cheeks to make it rosy. But it still went back to its original skin tone.
I complained to Mum, but all she told me was that I did not eat enough tomatoes to make is rosy. Believe me, that was a big mistake. My ordeal began by having a bowl of red tomatoes again, followed by another bowl, and some more on a regular basis.
As a young girl, my desire to look beautiful like those girls on the television prompted me to eat more tomatoes. I feasted on tomatoes every day. One big red tomato for breakfast. Another one for lunch, and occasionally, for snacks instead of lollies.
Another surprise from my Mum came when she cooked me bitter melon with boiled rice for dinner. According to her, it would keep me healthy and would make my blood bright red. What? It made me wonder what the point was when my blood is already red. Her defence was, it will be good for my blood, and I will never get sick again. Yep! That was according to her.
For the record, she was not even a doctor, nor a nutritionist.
Honestly, I don’t understand her fascination with colours, especially RED.
I ate it. There was no point in complaining. That horrible green, the wrinkly vegetable was so bitter. I crumpled my face as I swallowed a mouthful of bitter melon with rice. A glass of water was not enough to rid that bitter taste in my mouth. I wished lollies were hanging around at the time, but all I could see were tomatoes here and there. (Grrrr…!)
She ate a spoonful of bitter melon without the rice to show me that it wasn’t so bad, just to convince me that it tastes delicious.
I gave in. So, I ate some more again, until I finished my dinner ultimately. Huh, what a night, I thought.
My Mum introduced me one time to the veggies that she bought at the market. One, in particular, was the broccoli.
I didn’t realise that broccoli was a vegetable on its own. I had this crazy idea that broccoli was a cluster of premature baby trees all bunched up together because they failed to grow as individual trees.
Oh, so now she wanted me to eat trees as well. Oh gosh!
- So, what was this story means?
It was all about TRUST.
Trust – not because she was my mother, but because she knew what she was talking about. (I really hope so).
I trusted her because she knew so much about vegetables, what they were for and why they were good for me.
I trusted her because she was an excellent cook, as well.
I was barely a teenager when I consumed so many tomatoes and bitter melon and all those sorts of vegetables I never knew existed in this world. It was all because my Mum wanted me to like and eat vegetables.
Our house looked like a jungle with so many green veggies lying around in the kitchen. She even put some bok choy in a jar instead of flowers.
Her bid to teach me to eat vegetables was her desire to keep me from getting sick all the time.
If during that time, Google was already part of our life, I could have quickly asked Google for information. But Google was still years away.
I believed her. I trusted her for a very simple reason that she knew what I wanted – to have rosy cheeks.
Mum provided me with information that will fulfil my expectation, so, she introduced tomatoes to me, that it is suitable for my skin. I was delighted that I would look like those stars on the TV.
At the same time, my Mum accomplished her desire to teach me to eat vegetables. (I found out later that tomatoes are not even vegetables but fruits.) Indeed, it would make her very happy if she found out about that. Two birds in one stone. It made her job more manageable.
My Mum knew what I need, and that is to be strong and healthy and not to get sick frequently. So, she made sure that she can help me with it.
In other words, she delivered her promise.
- What does this story mean for you and me?
For new authors like us, the way to build trust between us, the authors, and our readers is to stay true to our objectives and convictions.
We cannot establish trust if we were not honest to ourselves. If we promise something, we have to make sure we follow through.
My Mum promised to keep me healthy, and she followed it through by telling me the benefits I will reap from eating those vegetables.
To us authors, our promise to our readers is to give them an exciting adventure when they pick up our book from the shelf and read it.
When we established trust, we also create a bond, an emotional connection with our readers.
They trust us that we will meet what they expect from us.
They expect to learn from us. Our readers expect that what we tell in our story will broaden their perspective in life.
They expect to be inspired, to take them on a journey, and they expect a happy ending.
But most of all, they want to be entertained.
Being entertained was the primary reason why they read our book. Our readers can sense our personality through our stories. The words we used, how we portray our characters, and how we make them feel when they read our book, even after they have already finished reading it.
Building connections and establishing trust with our readers will take some time.
But always remember, be clear about what they can expect from our work. That’s where trust begins.
Finally, let us not forget we have a dream to pursue. Let’s put our hands together and work towards our vision.
Let’s make it happen.
Till next “vine”.