Small things

Thirty years ago, I took a few long-distances buses from Harare and stayed with a cousin and his family over the Christmas holidays. He lent me his little truck one day and I drove the 95 kilometres from Pietermaritzburg to Amamzimtoti on the N3 highway to visit my grandmother. There was a torrential downpour and the windscreen wipers did not work.

No problem. I rolled up a sweatshirt and stuck one of my long arms out of the window as a human windscreen wiper to achieve the minimum visibility required to stay in my lane at 80 km/hour. You will be glad to know that my other hand was on the steering wheel. I held the steering wheel with my knee when I had to change gears. Quite a lot of rain came in the open window too. I got there in one piece. My favourite T-shirt at the time had the words “rip all day, rave all night” on it. More wishful thinking than anything else, I guess, but close enough.

I was reminded of this because my grandmother’s one-roomed flat had wall-to-wall carpeting. The carpet had lots of little bits of white fluff on it (from her candlewick bedspread, I suppose). We drank tea, and she forced litres of barley water down my throat to ward off any cold I might have caught during my rather wet journey to see her. I was about to offer
to give her carpet a good clean with the dustpan and brush when she remarked that her gentleman friend, Dermott, who was also present, was such a help to her since he used the U-bank (a long-handled manual carpet brusher) every day in her flat to clean the carpet, and didn’t I think he did a splendid job, etc.? Realising immediately that failing eyesight was conducive to jovial companionship, it was apparent that my carpet-cleaning skills would have been most unwelcome on two fronts, so I took another gulp of barley water, and kept my trap shut.

Nowaways, I miss many a spot when washing the dishes or doing general housework simply because I cannot see the offending spot. And so it was the other day, when I picked the last two edible pomegranates off my tree for a breakfast drink. (The best method to extract juice, for your info, is to use an old-fashioned orange squeezer.)

I reached into the cupboard for a glass, and held it up to the light. It looked a bit grubby. So I took a (yes, spotlessly) clean dish cloth to give it a wipe. It was then that a small piece of glass fell to the floor. That was when I recalled that I had broken a wine glass about a month ago when putting the dishes away, and whilst I had immediately swept up the pieces, I had not been sharp enough to notice a piece the size of half a fingernail fall into the glass I now held in my hand.

Pomegranate juice: marks on the glass now are from my slightly grubby hands.

Given my penchant for gulping, I was shocked that I might have landed up with a small sharp piece of glass travelling down my throat and into my gut. Instead, it went straight into the bin, where it should have gone in the first place. And the glass got a thorough washing and rinsing before I drank the pomegranate juice, which was close to divine.

©2018 Allison Wright

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