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A biographical non-fiction story by


Submitted Aug 1, 2018, 12:05:45 PM

A bad taste in my mouth

He began his schooling career at the age of 5. It was pre-school which at the time was preparation for school but it took place in the same primary school. It was just that the children didn't have to wear uniforms and there was no curriculum besides drawing, playing and what was meant to be fun activities.

He was not really very poor. With the household income recieved his income class was that of poverty, however as he grew older he realised that his needs would have been met if his mother spent the maintainence grant she recieved due to her divorce wisely.

However she used to say to him,
The grant I receive is not your money. It is my payment for looking after you.

He does recall that she used to buy makeup, toiletries and things for herself with the money she received from the government. Even though it was R500 at the time of 1995 in South Africa rent was R50, electricity and telephone put together were less than R100 and there weren't other bills that had to be paid beside his college fund which was also less than a hundred rand.

Since his mother, grandmother and his aunt received a grant the income was R1500 and remember this was at a time when a loaf of bread was just R1. 50, a can of coke was R2 and groceries were not very expensive.

His grandmother's sister used to buy butter for them. 5 blocks of. 500g Rama margarine a month. Which cost less than R15. He used to really enjoy eating buttered bread and tea at home as it was sweet and filling. Even though they used to purchase a case of Steri milk a month they never used to use it for tea. For those who don't know Steri milk is discontinued and now replaced by long life milk. Steri was long life milk, just in clear glass bottles of 500ml each.

An image of Clover Steri Milk in bottles 500ml
His family used to make tea in an enamel jug on a daily basis on the stove and make the entire jug hot everytime someone wanted to drink tea. They did not have a microwave but did have a kettle.

They called it the tea jug and it looked similar to the image below but it was blue.

Just for interest this image was found on a vintage auction website.
It was easy for his caregivers to give him proper nutrition as they did have the funds too and also they did have relatives who gave them food as well.

However for lunch he used to receive butterbread. 1 sandwhich of butterbread cut horizontally. In a lunchtin. The butter was always hard on the bread as it was a block of butter which was refrigerated.

His mother and/or grandmother would not thinly slice the butter but instead would thickly slice it. He never used to eat his lunch.
Could it be because he was used of the bread not being dry when he had it with hot tea at home? Or that perhaps it was the same lunch everyday? Was it too dry? Did he subconsciously know that they could give him other lunch to eat?

Needless to say not eating his lunch got him into trouble at home. Most of the parents brought their children to school. They walked them there and they waited until the classroom opened and did so outside the classroom. This means that parents associated with the teacher. Furthermore there were some parents who were more involved in school like his mother.

She used to help decorate the class for term end parties and help with other activities. It was becoming a daily complaint in the household of this poor little boy and his luncheon issues so instead of talking to him he used to get confronted in an angry manner at home about it.
Would that have been something that made him feel comfortable or uncomfortable about eating food which regenerates mind and body and enhances life?

Did his subconscious mind get scared for life because of this?

His mother probably felt that her only option was to complain to his teacher about it. So she did. Unknowingly to him.

The classroom layout was simple as there were only 20 or so children. Half of it had tables and chairs and the other half had a carpet. The carpet was for sitting cross legged when it was storytime and also it was for lunchtime.

At this particular lunchbreak everyone sat on the carpet and ate and he just opened his lunchtime and saw the butter bread. He tried to take a bite as he did everyday but couldn't get it down so he left it back. When lunchbreak was over everyone was getting up to go back to their tables but he was told to stay on the carpet.

His teacher exclaimed (mind you in front of the entire class) "Your mother has complained. You are not eating your lunch and worrying your mother and grandmother. So now you will sit there and eat your lunch and only come back to your table when you are done."

He sat on that carpet whilst everyone sat on their chairs much higher than him and stared at him while he forcefully gulped down his lunch. It took him a few minutes and probably due to the shock he never could cry. Maybe he imagined he had some warm black tea to dip it in.

His subconscious mind was now trained that eating is a bad thing. He became fearful of people watching him when he ate, especially in public. It affected him so much that for years to come right into his adulthood he never ate in public no matter how hungry he was. His mother made it worse by always telling him when they were in public and he wanted to eat that people are looking at them and everyone is putting evil eyes on their food. And they want the food.

This generated bad energy and a bad mindset towards food. It was no as if eating was a bad thing. And everytime that he ate people were looking.

In the following years she did buy Melrose and peanut butter but he did not eat his lunch. He was so afraid to take his lunch out of his bag and walk around and eat it in front of people that he just starved his poor body. He also wondered how other people's parents gave them sandwiches with curry in them or tinfish.

As this was very new to him and he would never eat that. Up til today he would never. This was because at home they taught him that bread was only for toast and sandwiches with jam, Melrose or peanut butter. They never ate bread with curry or with any other food.

The half loaf of bread which was barely 9 slices was enough for that only for four people a day. Is that what his caregivers thought even though at the time they could afford more.

When he went to functions he always refused bread when offered with meals and braais. Everyone used to say how skinny he was and he never linked up that eating made you gain weight because it was never mentioned in his home so he didn't understand. It was just something people said to make him feel bad, at least that's what he believed.

The teacher who had believed she was doing a good thing to him was actually well aware that he was the most intelligent person in the classroom as well. But she still did it with her educational background. She was in an abusive relationship with her husband and soon after divorced him and married an alcoholic.

Would the boy wonder what has become of her daughters now?