Representations of Home Creative Journal

ROAM - Summer/Autumn 2023 - ROAM 3


Dorothea Boshoff


 “Shoo! Shoo!” she shouts, wind-milling her arms. 

“Get!” she picks up a stone and the monkeys scatter half-heartedly. She mutters through the red dust she had kicked up. They had really become a nuisance now that there are no people around. Somehow the lockdown has made the animals more daring, more taunting than usual; their constant food raids turning the farm into a bit of a battleground.

The creaky screen door slams behind her, like a shield between her and them. She walks straight to the kitchen, hurrying, anticipating. And there it is…. She turns the fruit basket so the rays of the sun can fall straight onto the one papaya.  There are other fruit, a couple of Granny Smiths, some grapes, but they are functional – incidental almost. It is the pawpaw that she nurtures. Actually managing to get it from the tree before the monkeys got to it was a major victory and every day for the last week, since she first noticed the deepening kiss of orange on its skin, she has been moving her prize like a sunflower along the drifting patches of sun on the counter.

She sighs with what she has come to call her Corona-induced weltschmerz. The lockdown, Pete stuck abroad after a now useless-seeming business trip, the never-ending boredom of isolation, having to run the homestead on her own…. In the midst of that, the tiny papaya has come to symbolize normality –­ life even. God knows, there’s little enough joy left. Her fingers longingly trace the family photo fixed to the fridge with a Save the Rhino magnet. She sighs again and starts sweeping the clay floor.

She is hanging out sheets by the washing line behind the dead fig tree when she hears the screen door slam again. She freezes. No! She did bolt the door behind her. Surely she did! Didn’t she? She is running before even having completed the thought, the white sheets falling, turning bloody in the ochre dust. No! No!! She knows with devastating certainty what she will find in the kitchen.

The big, hairy male is perched on the fridge, one hand scratching its bum, the other clenching the pawpaw to its hairy chest. She instinctively throws out an arm out in defense, maybe supplication, and moves away from the door not to block its exit.

“Give that back” she says, feeling twelve. “Give it back, I say!” Too much force. The monkey barks, pushing its head toward her, giving a banshee screech with fangs bared in a back down gesture. This is the last straw. NOT. IN. MY. HOUSE! The rage fraying inside her snaps loose and she charges back, straight at the animal, screaming: “Give me back my pawpaw, you fucking thief!”

The scream, the frustration, the fury – so much deeper than for a mere papaya – become a suspended question mark in the air, hovering between them like the dreaded virus droplets. The monkey lets go of its loot, dashing for freedom. As the door slams behind it, she sags crying to the floor, cradling the bruised pawpaw in her arms. 


Dorothea Boshoff


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