Palesa's List | Nal'ibali

Written stories

Palesa's List


Helen Brain


Mieke van der Merwe

Listen to the story here

“I need to go shopping,” said Mama, writing a list. “I need cabbage and meat and onions, and flour, yeast and oil.”  


“I’ll go to the market,” Gogo said. “You’re so busy here. Palesa can come with me and help me carry everything home.”  


“Thank you,” said Mama. “Don’t forget the shopping list.” So Gogo and Palesa set off for the taxi rank.  


“What do we need to buy, Gogo?” Palesa asked as she skipped along.  


“Let me see,” said Gogo, reading the list. “We need cabbage and meat and onions, and flour, yeast and oil.”  


“Cabbage and meat and onions, and flour, yeast and oil,” sang Palesa, turning the list into a little song. “Cabbage and meat and onions, and flour, yeast and oil.”  


Then the taxi came by and picked them up. “Where to?” asked the driver.  


“To the market,” said Gogo. “We need to buy some groceries.” And she showed him her list.  


“That’s right,” said Palesa. “We need cabbage and meat and onions, and flour, yeast and oil.”  

The taxi stopped near a big tree. A large lady got into the taxi with her crying baby.  


“Haai,” said Gogo. “This baby is crying so much that she is giving me a headache. Palesa, remind me to buy some pain tablets.”  


“Ok,” said Palesa. “We need cabbage and meat and onions, and flour, ice-cream and oil. And some pain tablets.”  


The taxi drove very fast, beeping its horn. Soon they arrived at the market. There were people everywhere. There were stalls selling fruit and vegetables, meat and fish, shoes and socks, skirts and dresses. There were stalls with cakes and bread, brushes and combs, soaps and detergents, and flour and coconut. There was oil and butter, seeds and shovels, pots and pans, and goats and chickens. Wherever they looked, there were people, people, people, buying, buying, buying.  


“What a crowd,” said Gogo. “Now, where’s my shopping list? I can’t find it anywhere.”  


“Oh dear,” said Palesa. “I think you left it in the taxi. Don’t worry. I remember what we have to buy. It was mealiemeal and meat and onions, and flour, ice-cream and oil. And pain tablets.”  


“Right,” said Gogo. “Let’s start shopping. Now, where do we buy the mealiemeal?”  


The very first stall they passed sold mealiemeal, so they bought a big bag.  

“Right,” said Palesa. “Now all we need is meat, onions, flour, sugar, ice-cream and oil. And pain tablets.”  


“Are you sure your mama wanted sugar?” asked Gogo. “I saw a big bag of sugar in the cupboard at home.”  


Palesa scratched her head. “Um. Maybe it was sweets?”  


“That’s it,” said Gogo. “I’m sure she wanted sweets.” So they bought a jumbo bag of sweets. Next they came to the stall selling fruit and vegetables.  


“Didn’t your mama need vegetables?” Gogo asked, frowning. “I can’t remember.”  


Palesa looked at the big bunches of bananas. They looked so yummy. “I wish we could buy some bananas,” she said. “Can we, Gogo?”  


Gogo looked confused. “I’m not sure. Were they on the list?”  


“Mealiemeal, sweets, bananas, flour, ice-cream and oil, and pain tablets,” sang Palesa.  

“Good girl,” said Gogo, buying a bunch of bananas. “You are clever to remember everything so well. Now let’s buy the flour, ice-cream and oil, and then we can go home. My feet are killing me!”  


“Don’t forget the pain tablets,” said Palesa.  


So Gogo bought a bottle of tablets, the flour, ice-cream and oil, and a bottle of cooldrink.  

She swallowed two tablets with a mouthful of cooldrink. 


“Here’s the taxi,” said Gogo. “You’ve been such a good girl. You enjoy the rest of the cooldrink on the way home.” 



Mama was very surprised to see them home so soon. “Well done,” she said. “Thank you for shopping for me. Now I can get started on my nice meat and cabbage stew, and bread.”  


“Cabbage?” said Palesa. “Did you want us to buy cabbage?”  


“Meat?” said Gogo. “Did you want us to buy meat?”  


Mama unpacked the plastic bags. She stared at the groceries and the bottle of pain tablets.  

“What is this?” she exclaimed. “Mealiemeal, sweets, bananas, flour, ice-cream and oil. What am I supposed to do with these?”  


“Oh dear,” said Gogo. “Oops,” said Palesa.  


“I gave you a list,” said Mama. “Why didn’t you buy the things on the list?”  


“We lost the list,” said Gogo. “I forgot it in the taxi.”  


“Sorry,” said Palesa, and she began to cry.  


“At least you bought pain tablets,” Mama said. “I now have a terrible headache from wondering what I can cook for dinner today! I was going to make cabbage stew. Now I have no idea!” And she swallowed two pain tablets with a glass of water and went to lie down. Mama was very upset.  


Gogo and Palesa sat at the kitchen table. They felt very bad.  


“Now I remember,” Palesa said. “The list DID have cabbage on it.”  


Gogo nodded. “Mama wanted meat too, and onions.”  


Palesa looked at the food on the table. “Those bananas look so good,” she said.  


“There’s lots of oil,” said Gogo. “And there’s flour. And I know there’s sugar in the cupboard, and a couple of eggs. Shall we use them to make banana fritters?”  


“Yum,” said Palesa, fetching the big plastic bowl from the cupboard.  


“Here, you can peel the bananas,” said Gogo, cracking the eggs into the bowl.  


Half an hour later Palesa knocked on the bedroom door. “Mama,” she called, “I’ve brought you something nice.”  


“Come inside,” said Mama.  


Gogo opened the door, and helped Palesa carry the tray. Carefully they put it on the bed.  


“We brought you tea,” said Gogo, “to say we’re sorry.”  


“And we made you banana fritters,” said Palesa.  


Mama sat up in bed. “Banana fritters. I LOVE banana fritters.”  


They all got busy drinking tea and eating banana fritters with ice-cream. And when they had finished the whole plate of fritters, nobody was hungry anymore. Mama didn’t need to cook any supper that night.  


“Good night, Palesa,” Mama said at bedtime, giving her a goodnight kiss.  


“The next time I go shopping with Gogo, I promise to keep the shopping list safe, so that Gogo doesn’t forget it in the taxi again,” said Palesa. “Good night, Mama.”