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The storytelling jug

by Makhosazana Xaba


I am the two litre jug, plastic and royal blue.
I was brought to this home as a gift five years ago.
The first born daughter of the Mother of this home
Used her first salary to buy her mother a special gift.
“Mama you need a decent, dedicated kitchen jug” she said.

The daughter, Sozesazi, had a smile of pride when she presented me;
Until then I had been living for years at Vukani General Dealers.
No one wanted me. I had learned to love the smell of dust.
I learned to listen to voices of shoppers and relished their touch.
“What do you think of this one? Too blue, maybe,” they said.

Then one day, when the Mother and Father of this home
Were sleeping in their bedroom, a boy I had never seen
Stormed into the kitchen, filled me up with tap water,
Walked down the corridor into the main bedroom.
“Here, wash her with this,” and handed me to another boy.

This boy was naked on top of the Mother of the home.
With speed he shifted, emptied me of the water
Down the legs of the Mother of this home, then threw me
On the floor where the father of the home was kneeling.
“Help me. Help us. Please!” his eyes and face were saying.

Large brown tape covered his mouth, his hands were tied behind.
He rocked from side to side – I thought
It was his way of comforting himself. Then I counted
Five boys in the bedroom, one was emptying the drawers.
“It’s your turn, go fill up the jug!” he screamed, pointing at another.

I was back in the kitchen, in the hands of another boy
Who did what the other boy had done but didn’t close the tap.
Back in the bedroom, I was aware of the dripping water. I knew
That the Mother of this home would hate that. One boy got off her.
“You took all the juices, she’s dry!” He sounded angry.

They must have rehearsed this going to the kitchen part,
The climbing on the bed, moving up and down the Mother,
The moaning each climber emitted before getting off the bed.
I had seen many things in this home and at the General Dealers.
“Hurry up, Magents. It’s getting dark outside!”one of them said.

And so finally they had to stop taking turns with the Mother of the home.
When they left, they were running – all five of them. The Mother of the
Home removed the tape from her mouth and started crying so loud
I thought the ceiling would crack. Very slowly she moved and climbed down.
“I am coming Baba. Let me get a pair of scissors.” All this time she was crying.

The Mother and the Father of this house left on that day.
I decided I would become the storytelling jug from then on.
Always, I start with the words, “I am the two litre jug, plastic and royal blue.
I came to this home many years ago, a gift of a daughter to her mother.”
Then I tell the story in a manner that matches my mood at that hour.

On some days I focus on the silences between sounds that filled this house.
On other days I give life to their words because I remember them all.
On most days I tell the story just the way it unfolded, on that yesterday-like day.
I was once a dedicated kitchen jug. I evolved into a storytelling jug:
Decent, two litres in volume, plastic and royal blue.