When I was Small by Ngawini Hall
Muv, Stepmuv and Grandma, Ngawini Hall is a creative multi-tasker, rarely daunted by life's challenges, who weaves through her life and artistry the many colourful strands of her European and Maori ancestry.
The world seemed a much brighter, happier place when I was small. Home seemed always full of joy, love and laughter. When my Dad came home from work, we would line up at the back door for hugs and kisses, Mother first. This always met with giggles from us kids. Their smooches were real smackeroos with “Mo-mo-mo-mo-mo-mo” as lips met, until one or other of us would demand our turn.
Mother had very organised systems in place, as did most women of her day; Monday was wash day, 'Top sheet to the bottom, bottom sheet to the wash.' We had a copper in the corner of the wash-house to begin with, but it soon moved to the backyard, its place taken by a wonderful new wringer washing machine. Mother would wash all the whites first, then soak them in Reckitt’s ‘Blue’ to make them extra white before hanging them out to flap in the wind. A soft rubber hose for filling the machine also had another role - Mother used it to punish us when we were naughty. Sounds brutal, but it was utterly ineffectual as it was far too soft to hurt, and I think she well knew that. Its effect was to make us realise she was annoyed and that was always enough.
My favourite day was baking day, when we three little people would gather round the kitchen table and watch as fabulous rock cakes, sugar buns, date scones, sour milk loaves were created and we’d claim turns to lick the bowl. Warm smells, fine particles of flour caught floating in the streams of sunlight, Mother conducting eggbeaters and bowls, trays of food in and out of the oven like some fabulous orchestra. Magic.
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