When I was a child my mother told me traditional stories, from her family tradition, and more banal ones she’d learned at school. When I grew up and wanted to record her stories, she insisted she’d forgotten them. I returned to traditional stories, as an adult, as a result of training as a dramatherapist.
We did work with Alida Gersie on using stories therapeutically, and I recovered my delight in stories.
We had to do a performance as part of our final assessment, and I created this story, and told it, as my performance. The audience (of fellow students) loved it, and thought it was a genuine traditional story – ironic given the theme. Was so embarrassed I did not dare invent a story for.
is now a story – my story, and if you tell it it will become a ‘traditional story’. It is, of course, a story about bread.
nb – the copyright only applies if people print it or repeat it verbatim
(C) Nico Pollen
It happened a long, long time ago. Not quite in the earliest days, but not long after; Adam and Eve were still around at this time. They were quite middle aged. Their children had left home a long time before – and then there had been that sad business with Cain and Abel, which had affected them quite badly, as you can imagine. They had a bit of land that they farmed, you could call it a smallholding, but what could you compare it with to say if it was small, medium or large? It was the only farm in the world. Anyway, they were leading a quiet life, no bother to anyone. And then one day Eve’s sister Lilith came to visit. As usual, she hadn’t asked for an invitation, hadn’t even told them she was coming. She’d just turned up.
Well, Adam sat with her and tried to make conversation. Not easy, they disagreed about just about everything, and she could be very prickly about a lot of things. Eve, of course, prepared a meal. Lilith was sort of family, as was everyone at that time, but she was a visitor, and Eve had to prepare a meal fit for company. Salads, soup, cooked vegetables, fruit of all kinds, eggs, cheeses, even a dish of meat. Fresh water from the well, fresh beer. And bread. Made with white flour and raised with yeast.
Well, I say yeast, but actually beer balm – the froth that forms on the surface of beer when it’s brewing. She didn’t do the brewing herself, it was her other sister, the world’s first brewster, who did that. Eve collected the beer balm from her, mixed it with the flour and water, kneaded it, heated the oven, let the dough rise twice, shaped the loaves and baked them. So by the time the meal was ready Eve was hot and tired and not looking her best at all.
And they sat down for the meal. All was set on the table, and Eve carried in the bread on a fine platter.
And Eve said a blessing, thanking God for the bread, and broke the bread… And then Lilith reached across to the salt pot, took a pinch of salt, and sprinkled it over the bread.
‘What did you do that for?’ said Adam.
‘It’s tradition’ said Lilith.
‘Tradition’ said Lilith, shrugging her shoulders.
‘Where does it come from?’ said Adam.
‘Did you get it from G.,,,?’ Began Eve, but Adam gave her a look before she managed to complete saying ‘God’, and she stopped. They both of them knew how angry Lilith got if you so much as mentioned God.
‘Now I know you’ve been travelling to far off parts and conversing with all sorts, and learning from diverse sages, so you might as well tell me where you learnt this’,
Lilith said nothing. She continued saying nothing or repeating ‘Tradition’, which wasn’t very useful, whatever Adam or Eve asked her. But she seemed so very convinced, that in the end Adam (and Eve) accepted. This was tradition.
And from then on, whenever Eve made bread, and said the blessing and broke the bread, Adam sprinkled salt on it. And Adam’s sons continued to do the same, and so did Eve’s daughters. And their grandsons and granddaughters, and so on to this day.
So it is tradition, just as Lilith said.
But what about Eve’s other sister, the brewster? Who is she, what is her name?
That I don’t know. That story has not yet been told.
But I’ll tell you something. When all the stories have been told, and there are no new ones left to be found, then, ever so slowly, one by one, all the stars in the universe will blink out.
And that will be that.
Note: This is an original story: if you like it, tell it. I’d appreciate if you mention my name, but the important thing is that the tale gets told.