I wasn’t sure which of the stories currently running through my mind,should first be published…..but when I catched up on my social media platforms,I came across something on Instagram,that took me way back….to a wood/coal stove…..
It is just an advert that asks the reader’s opinions, about the color range of their wood/coal stoves, with matching cookware.Stupid you may think,but that simple picture, opened up a mountain load of memories.Some good,some bad and some…well.
I go back, to as far as my memories would allow me. A ugly little girl, with straight hair, always tied up in a ponytail, with a elastic rubber band. My hair was lifeless and I hated the early mornings, when my mother would comb my hair.She wanted me to sleep with my hair still tied back, with the rubber bands, but it hurt my scalp too much.So every night half asleep, I just couldn’t take it anymore and took it of my hair, already tangled in it.It was a big relief….until the next morning, when it was time to comb my hair!!!Every day the same story, for years to come.I had hand me downs and was being bullied at school.My siblings had more courage and were popular, so they didn’t understand what I went through.All was not doom and gloom though. There are memories, that soften my heart a bit, towards my mother. She also didn’t have it easy.She married a man who left her with her two little children, to go out with his sisters and their friends…. weekend after weekend. She had to battle to get food on the table and had no help from either side of the families. It was exactly the life I married into too. Had she only told me all about it,before I made the mistake myself….. In any case after my birth, she didn’t have it any easier.I remember her winding up the coil,of the alarm clock each night, setting it on 04:00. I’ll hear the alarm going off,in the morning, her getting up and then walk past our bedroom door. She’d lift the lid of one of the stove top plates, of the old AGA coalstove and start the fire,with the wood my older brother had to chop, the previous afternoon and then the coal,from the bucket he had to fill. In between, I’ll hear her pour water in the coffee kettle and put it on the stove, moving the coals about, with the poker. Soon the flavour of freshly brewed, roughly ground coffee would be hanging in the air…..She’d get a pot of water on the stove and start making porridge. We never had the honor of cereal, as it was too expensive and mother already struggled to make ends meet…..I grew up remembering mother drinking every weekend, with my father and they would fight and shout, from late afternoon, until late at night. I àlso grew up with my mother doing the household chores, for a few years. She’d come climb in bed with me, after everyone left and let me sleep later,with the coffee pot, snuggled in a thick cover, to keep it warm. I can remember a few times, she’d wake me and swear because had I wet my bed.(Come to think of it now….. I wonder why….?) After we got up, she’d immediately get water and get down on her knees and began washing and polishing, the raw cement and fake linoleum floors. The verandah was polished with red wax and the rest with white. Then she’d shine it with a rough brush and soft cloth. She carried the houseplants out on the verandah and do the breakfast dishes. Around 10:00,about four of the neighborhood ladies,, would come to our house, or we’d go to their house in turn and each lady would knit a part of a jersey that day, for one child, of one of the households. None of them could really complain, because they would never be able to associate with mother. Those days, we still bought flour and maize meal in stamped material bags. Mother would bleach the material, until it is spotless white. Then she’d make short pants for my little brother from it.If anybody knew about it, nobody said anything.As we all got up, at different times, she had already made sure, that the small kitchen was nice and warm. The nice hot and steaming coffee was to die for. My father made a little wooden seat, that he painted red. Mother would put it near the stove, for me to be warm enough. We didn’t have a geyser, so when it was bathtime at night, brother had to bring in the big zinc tub from outside and put in front of the stove and mother would pour us nice warm bath. It was my eldest sister first, so we had to wait in our rooms, then it was my turn and then my brother’s turn. Father wasn’t keen on taking a bath and I can’t remember, ever knowing when my mother took a bath. Father was vèry picky about his food and we were all very nervous around the table, praying that he would not find fault with the food. If he does, it will be the start of a big fight. He’ll always pour Worchestershire sauce and Tomato sauce(Ketchup)all over his food and then complain. Whatever we ate, he wanted meat. If it was soup, he wanted his meat on a side plate…..
The advert of that stove and matching enamel cast iron pots, took me back to a time in my life where(even though not a lot) there were good times too….Mother always wearing an apron, (until just before father comes home from work) looking down with pride on the shine on her AGA stove……
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