Day 11 of the 15 day writing challenge.
When I was younger, we had this plastic container in our house. It was yellow on the outside but on the inside, it was a lot more. When you emptied it, on the sides were different colour lines that run into each other. You could never tell exactly where one colour ended and the other began. It was nearly a kaleidoscope of colours but without a pattern.
What coloured the plastic in? It was all the broken crayons we’d put in it. As children, we’d have lots and lots of assignments from school on colouring and that container held the materials with which we did our assignments. We did our assignments with the broken crayons.
I was too young to remember how or why we started keeping the crayons in the plastic container. All I remember is that we had packs of new crayons every now and then but we only ever went to those packs to pick colours that we couldn’t find in the container anymore.
”Aunty Lola, my hand cannot hold the colour red again.” My little voice would alert my aunt of how small the crayon had gotten.
My aunt, as a nursery school teacher in another school, was usually the one who helped us with our assignments. She loved children. She loved us. She still does. Even if we’re the ones who help her with certain things now.
”Are you sure there are no other red crayons in the container?” She would ask.
”No, ma.” I would reply after turning the container over and spreading out all the crayons that fell out on the table with my hands.
As little as I was, I knew I needed to be thorough. She loves us but she was ready to flog us every time the need arose. With my low tolerance for pain, I became a very meticulous child. It’s safe to say I grew up with this trait.
”Oya, go bring any of the new packs. They all always have red.” She’d tell me after checking the spread out crayons herself.
I believe the same reason they all always had red is the same reason we ran out of red so often. The textbooks always had so many things to colour in red or a weird shade that was close to red.
The new packs of crayon were always on the lowest shelf where we kept the books that my father mandated we read during free time. This means the new crayons were always within our reach. Yet, somehow, we never went for them unless we were told to. Why would we, anyway? The container always had every colour we wanted and when it didn’t, all we needed to do was alert an adult and we’d have permission. By the time we got back from fetching the new pack, the adult would have thrown the small crayon into a bag of even smaller broken crayons. That bag held the crayons that we were allowed to use to have fun. The bigger ones were for assignments because they were faster.
I’d proceed to use the new crayon after my aunt gave it to me but getting a good grip was always a task for my little hands. This is why we broke the crayons. As soon as my aunt caught sight of my struggle with the whole crayon, she’d simply take it out of my hand and break it into three pieces. She’d throw two pieces into the container and hand me the last one. By this act, my small hands could hold and use the crayon with ease. Somehow, this always repeated itself. Perhaps I didn’t have enough courage to break a crayon without being told to. Perhaps I just didn’t have enough strength to.
The crayons came to us whole but we could never use them until they were broken. After being broken, we didn’t get rid of them. They served their purpose broken; even better than they could if we tried to use them whole as they came.