the cupboard of life

Alexander McCall Smith has this book that Clyde and I both love. It’s called The Full Cupboard of Life. I was reading it last week and I remember opening to the first chapter of the book and laughing while reading its lines.

The chapter was titled A Great Sadness Among The Cars of Botswana. It talked about this garage for fixing cars called Tlokweng Road Speedy Motors and how there were two foolish apprentices there who had girls always on their minds and who had little sense for cars. Apparently, the apprentices had just put diesel fuel in an ordinary engine and the owner of the garage, Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, was berating them for it.

The main character, Mma Ramotswe, commiserated with Mr J. L. B. Matekoni in his exasperation in dealing with the flighty apprentices and wondered out loud about what would happen to them once they’d be finished with their apprenticeship and no longer under the kind supervision of someone like Mr J. L. B. Matekoni.

And Mr J. L. B. Matekoni, a kind man in his early forties who cared reverently about cars and their engines, grimly replied, “They will ruin cars left, right, and center. That is what will happen to them. There will be great sadness among the cars of Botswana.”

I laughed at reading it. It was so hilarious. Great sadness among the cars of Botswana. Heehee.

I read through the chapters of the book and its snippets of the warm, ordinary life in Africa. And then I’d look at the title and find it so striking and thought-provoking – The Full Cupboard of Life. What was the author trying to say? That in its pages the reader will find the things that consist the “full cupboard of life”?

It was an interesting thought and it made me want to open my own cupboard of life and take a look at its contents. What are these things that make up the ceramic plates, cups and mugs and table-glasses, spoons and forks, jars, pitchers, and saucers, that are the contents of my cupboard of life?

I wanted to reach a hand and trace a finger along the traceries and patterns of each kind of kitchen- and tableware. I wanted to run my fingers along the inner cusps of the mugs and the valleys of soup bowls and feel the shape of their contours.

I think it is the perfect time. Some of these domestic wares, I’m going to have to unload and give their name. I am at a crossroads right now, and I feel like I’m leaving one kind of life for another. I want to give myself some form of goodbye and I also want to remember and not forget.

Thus, I feel the need to write a story. My story. This, in effect, is the first page.


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