Nyameko/ December 5, 2019/ Archive, Works/ 0 comments

Crucibles come in many shapes and form. They can be big or small, they can last years or even minutes, the only common thing is that they always bring about a change in those who have gone through them. My crucible came when I was 15 in grade 9.

I am from a middle class working family. We didn’t always have what we wanted but we always had what we needed, which is more than can be said for most black families in South Africa during Apartheid. We lived in a small three bedroom house in Cape Town. It lived with my mother, father and I. I loved them and they adored me.

When I first moved to my own room at age 10 (I had been too afraid to live alone before then), I loved everything about my bedroom. I loved the brown carpet that I could lay on for hours and have half of it on my clothes when I got up. I actually learnt the word “lint” from that carpet. I loved my bed. I had gotten it from my uncle. My mother had not been happy when he brought it home. She said something about his boss finding out.

He brought it to our house one night. My mother then offered to pay for it but my uncle refused saying: “It’s an unwilling gift from the boers for taking our land” His bosses must have been some very nice people, we received many such gifts over the years, from our fridge to our dining room table. They basically furnished our house. I was 19, speaking to him through a glass pane, when I realized where it all came from and what he had had to do in order to get it.

That being said I am getting ahead of myself. In grade 9, I met this boy, Xolani Tom Grootboom. He hated the name Tom, he had been given it by his mom’s baas(boss in Afrikaans) cause apparently white people couldn’t say his actual name. He loved the color black even his room was black, I really wanted to see his room. I liked him instantly. He was so cool, calm and cute. My room’s cream walls all of a sudden started screaming how “uncool” and “boring” I was. He would never want to see my room.

So, on a sunny February afternoon, I bought black paint and walked home. My parents were at work. I moved my bed, covered the carpet and painted my room black, before they got home. When they got home we carried on with our nightly activities. I went to bed and my mother woke me up in the morning and we went to our jobs, mine being school, as if nothing had happened.

I told Tom about my victory, even got a high 5 from him. My hand felt warm and sweaty the whole day. I went home still thinking about that moment’s touch.

I got to my room to find: MY WALLS WHERE CREAM AGAIN! There was a little note on the bed: “My house, My walls”. At dinner we carried on as if nothing had happened.

In the morning, we all went to our jobs. I doubled back on the way to school and repainted my room black. I was late for school and got 10 hits of the cricket bat from my teacher, it was worth it. “My mother couldn’t tell me what to do with my room, after all Tom thought it was cool.

At dinner we carried on as if nothing had happened.

In the morning we all went to our jobs. I was on cloud 9, it was the first time I had gotten my way with my parents. I went back home and into my room. MY WALLS WERE CREAM AGAIN! At least there was no note this time. At dinner we carried on as if nothing had happened.

In the morning, I faked being sick and stayed home. I repainted the room as soon as they left.

At dinner we carried on as if nothing had happened.

In the morning we went to our jobs, mine being school. I came home and MY WALLS WERE CREAM AGAIN!  I had to give up, I had no more money and I couldn’t miss more school, the teacher’s love taps with the bat would be nothing if my parents found out about my missing school.

The room stayed cream for weeks, no more high fives from Tom. At dinner we carried on as if nothing had happened.

“I hate my room and Tom doesn’t think I’m cool anymore” I finally burst.

“Then why didn’t you discuss it with us?” Was my mother’s curt reply.

“You always say children shouldn’t ask. That their parents will know when they need something” Rebellion blazing in my eyes.

“Son, children don’t ask, but adults discuss what they want, that is an important lesson as you grow up” My father always the mediator in any situation.

“Ok, I would like black for my room walls”

They shared a knowing glance. “Are you sure?” “Yes, I am” “ok, then but you will repaint it yourself when you are sick of it.”

After that we carried on as if nothing had happened. I had won but I felt as if they had won a bigger victory.

At least I knew next time I should just discuss things with them, it would save me a lot of energy, effort and stress.

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About Nyameko

Nyameko Ishmael Bottoman (Nimz) is a professional paragraph wrangler. He spends his time with his head in the clouds and his boots on the neck of misbehaving metaphors. He prides himself on being a super nanny to adolescent puns.

When he is not busy being the gatekeeper to unruly onomatopoeia he keeps himself busy with writing children’s books, English education fan fiction, and noun-verb erotica.”

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