July 20, 2010

shopping elsewhere

why did the country bumpkin cross the road? to buy some eggs. the eggs were not symbolic, it wasn’t easter. it was winter, a coat and two scarfs armed acacia against the cold.

clean cars flew by, unsoiled by dust, unhindered by potholes, unobstructed by traffic police. this road was not a metaphor for life. would acacia get to the other side? there were no zebra crossings (that cheap paint, white, yellow, white, always needing another coat). there were no flyovers (dysfunctional eyesores, a thin pretext for more advert space). up the road by the traffic lights there was a little red man.

a massive silver button required a mighty smack of the palm. nothing happened, was it working? had ESCOM fried it, or rain flooded the wiring? a few more bangs on the button elicited a green man. the cars slowed and acacia ventured forth. but before clever parallels could be drawn to the crossing of oceans… suddenly the red guy was back, flashing, the cars revved, she skipped to the curb, just in time.

acacia walked into that universal shop ‘woolworths’ and marveled up and down the aisles, the indoors heating made her a little light-headed. there were no shoes or sensible underwear, no pick’n’mix or CDs, this was a food supermarket.

don’t think shoprite, no no no shoprite was a world away. white-skinned people pushed past as acacia stepped back to gaze at the shampoo range in all its glory. the bakery filled the horizon. five varieties of mandarins were lined up, beside midget avocados.

was a plain brown egg to be found amongst such technicolour? did the natural product of squawking chickens have any place in these double-packaged boxes? was the simple life being lost in modern development, which was the cause and which the effect? a refrigerated aisle cooled acacia’s forehead. the pursuit of eggs should not be confused with the hunt for happiness.

she asked a nice young chap for help. he overflowed with directions and the novelty of such excellent customer service gave her a warm fuzzy feeling. having reached the egg section - finally, and having dodged all poetic analogies – just about, acacia faced a real philosophical challenge...

the humble egg came in a number of varieties, depending on where the chickens lived. ‘caged’ or ‘free’, she reached for free wild birds flapping around the village, but was that ‘free range’ or ‘barn’? barn eggs sounded friendly, a homely compromise on ideals.

acacia opened a box to check if any of the 6 barn eggs were cracked. the yolks would be shocking orange, compared to the pale yellow of home. of course they were unbroken, all hopes intact. but there was a stamp with a best-before date… no time to waste in hatching the domestic dream.


  1. to be continued?

    dont be fooled by these fall pretenses...dis is babylon! think of the ill-fated battles dat hav brought that perfect brown free range egg into the refridegerated aisles of woolies!!! whose chicken? which chicken? has laid the golden egg that will "hatch ur domestic dream"?

  2. eggs from barned- caged- free-range chickens on a strictly: organic feed diet; cultured meals, halal meats; and hari chrishna foods; ... don't they all end up scrambled anyway?

  3. I remember when i came home form malawi going to a supermarket and just staring. So much 'choice' in one room, none of actually the choice of free will but manipulated, packaged choice that plays on desire and insecurities... I forget that feeling and am glad your writing has brought it back. xxxx

  4. Bring me the big red tasteless tomatoes, Natural Orange Juice (Concentrate), heaps of cheap junk food aka cookies, doritos, crisps with varieties of dips, many varieties of instant meals from pizzas to lasagnas and fish sticks, yeah not forgetting prepacked veggies. So much choice, so little nutrition, oh the hated extra calories!

  5. Z Allan Ntata21 July, 2010 09:13


  6. i still get overwhelmed - mainly in the toothpaste aisle...

  7. nice writing Jess. like it.

  8. Just had a shocking epiphany myself in an American supermarket's dairy section half the size of Foodworth...


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