A bitter memory of a sweet potato

At my primary school, each year, we planted and grew different kind of plants or vegetables in the school garden. In my first year at school, each of us was given a small planter and we grew morning glories. Each day we watered the plant and observed the way they grew. I wasn’t a dedicated caretaker, but some of us took care of the plant really well and their morning glories ended up having several beautiful blossoms. I looked at their flowers and thought to myself to do better in the future.

In Grade 2, we worked on sweet potatoes. Again, each of us was given a seedling, and we planted them to the rows of soil that were prepared by the teachers. Remembering my lesson from the previous year, I was determined to take a perfect care of my seedling so that it would produce a most beautiful sweet potato. Every day, I made a visit to the vegetable garden, eagerly softened the soil and watered my little seedling. I even talked to the plant once it started growing leaves.

Our seedlings grew very well, and by autumn, the ground was covered with big green leaves. I looked at my spot and thought that the leaves of my plant were even greener and bigger than others. I grinned with satisfaction.

Then the day of harvest arrived. Excited, I went out to the vegetable garden with my classmates and teacher. Finally, I was going to see my sweet potatoes that I had taken care of for the whole summer!

I was eager to run to my spot, but my teacher made us form two lines first. Then she started leading the students into each row of soil completely randomly. I was horrified. I needed to see my sweet potatoes, not any other potatoes!

But my wish was not answered. I saw other student sit in front of the spot where I had planted my seedling, ready to dig. I was assigned another spot in the garden. For the whole time we spent digging the potatoes that day, my eyes were constantly on the spot where my own sweet potatoes must have been waiting for me. I was heartbroken not to be able to hold in my hands the sweet potatoes I had cared for all through that summer.

After digging, we made a fire and cooked the all the sweet potatoes under the fallen leaves – “yakiimo” as it is called in Japanese.

The taste of the sweet potatoes was amazing. As I sat with my classmates eating the freshly cooked sweet potatoes, I decided to think that my sweet potatoes were the plumpest and the most delicious among all. It was totally believable, and the vision greatly consoled me.