Friday, September 18, 2009

Short Story: A Memory of Mother

We choose to begin the weekend in a special way-with Lauri Kubuitsile's short story. Enjoy it!

A Memory of Mother

There’s a memory, faded on the edges, folded up and held in the side pocket of her heart. In it she sits on a mat of grass by a river under the protective shade of a massive pepper tree. Her mother is laughing, leaning back, her elegant neck exposed, her perfect calf kicked skyward. He sits next to her, trapped in a gaze of needy amazement, eyes fixated like a hare trapped by the lights of a car. A baby, baby Nono, lies asleep on the patchwork quilt, slightly away from them, her thick lashes resting on her innocent cheeks. She sits next to Nono, guarding her as always, chasing flies from her fat, brown face. Her legs stretch straight in front of her, her cotton dress tucked tidily under them, her hands resting palms down on her thighs waiting to be needed. A good girl. Karabo, always the good girl.

She likes that memory; though she isn’t sure she trusts it. Where that river is she doesn’t know and it makes her question most everything else about the memory; though not too vigorously. It’s the only one she has, and holding onto it helps her to believe the story of her mother is something more than a myth to make her sleep on a stormy night. She holds her mother secure in that frayed, unsure memory.

She folds it away tight that evening. Her mind is elsewhere. Gran is sick and Nono needs new school shoes and her mind can’t stay attached to the maths she needs to finish before the candle melts away in its holder. She’s annoyed when the hard knock rattles the loose door. She stands and pushes the faded curtain aside to see who is pounding like a policeman in the night when people should be home letting the day wind out its last hours in peace. It is a woman; and it only takes a quick scan of her thoughts, a peek at the folded memory and Karabo knows it is her. After nine years, her mother stands on the other side of their door.

“Who is it?” Gran shouts from the one and only bedroom. Karabo ignores her grandmother’s question. She stands holding the table with shaking hands, waiting for her thoughts to calm and her stomach to settle.

She fears the real mother waiting on the stoop. She prefers the one in her memory. That one is happy and maybe she loves her and Nono. Maybe she is a mother who brushes out their hair and fixes it with shiny coloured ribbons. Or the one that sings songs. Maybe she’s a mother who is proud of her daughters’ small achievements. A mother who cries with them when they fail. Maybe she’s a mother who doesn’t walk to the shop for cigarettes and never, ever comes back again.

Once that door is opened, all of those maybe mothers, those ones in the cool shade with the sound of the flowing river in the background, they will vanish, never to be conjured up again, and only the mother that is hers alone; the one made of blood and bones and mistakes and pain, will be the one for her. She doesn’t want that. She wants the folded memory mother in her heart pocket.

But Karabo, always the good girl, takes the key from the nearby hook and opens the door to the stranger standing there and feels the slight tickle of her memory, held dear for so long; slowly slip away into the cool night air.

The End


  1. very touching. reminds me of the description Obama gave whilst meeting his father for the first time in his book 'Dreams from my Father'. Very interesting story you have here.

  2. Well written, and a nice touching story too.

  3. I really liked the emotion in this piece. And the last paragraph was wonderful as well. Lovely.


  4. Oh how lovely! I just found this I didn't know it would be here. Thanks for the lovely comments Nana,Myne and Solomon.

  5. I'm a big fan of sentences that have me at hello, and that first sentence had me! Lovely, lovely writing.

  6. beautiful language and description...well done, Lauri.

  7. You are masterful at capturing the subtlety of emotions that pepper our lives. Regret, longing, dreaming of what could have been. And then a knock at the door changes everything. Outstanding story!

  8. I LOVED it! Fantastic control . Well done!

  9. I followed you from your comment on Robert's blog and I'm so glad I did. Lovely language. Touching story.

  10. Beautiful story indeed. Very well crafted. I wish I was longer than that. It left me hanging in suspence. You are my inspiration Lauri.Keep the fire burning.