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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Cup - 10-25-12 Deadline (10/18/12)

TITLE: Five Times a Day
By Jana Kelley


Im nothing unusual really, just a little cup in the hands of a young nomad woman. She has six other cups just like me. I dont even have a handle and I am not very big at all. A finjaan is what Im called, and I hold coffee for my owner five times a day.

The young nomad woman sets the other cups and me on a little metal tray.


She sets the tray on the dirt beside her little charcoal stove and begins to fan the coals with one hand while shaking a metal cup of coffee beans over the heat with the other.


The beans begin to smoke and the aroma fills the round dome-shaped tent of the nomad woman. Laughter fills the room; deep chuckles and throaty voices of old men. They are reclining on blankets and mats in the tent as they wait for their coffee to be served. The man with the big grin and missing teeth is the young nomad womans husband. He is old, but he is kind. She has borne him a child already, so he is very proud of her. Her tiny baby boy is sleeping in a bundle on her back. She has tied him there and he is quiet and peaceful.

The nomad woman puts the coffee beans in a thick wooden cylinder and pounds them with a heavy metal rod.


She pounds the beans, along with a large piece of ginger, then coaxes the grounds into the long thin spout of her gourd-shaped clay coffee pot. She pours water in and sets the pot on the coals. The drops of water that escaped down the sides of the pot now sizzle on the fire.


When the coffee bubbles, she knows it is almost ready. She removes the pot before the dark froth bubbles up the long spout and spills out onto the coals. She sets the round clay pot on a ring made of reeds that keeps it sitting upright while the coffee grounds settle to the bottom. She picks up something that looks like a wad of crumpled string. It is really a tangled ball of camel tail hairs. She has crafted them into a filter that is stuffed into the spout of the clay pot. The camel hair keeps the coffee grounds and ginger threads from pouring out with the coffee.

Not much coffee will be poured into me, however, because the young nomad woman has already filled me and the other cups more than half-way with sugar. She holds the clay pot of coffee high over the tray and begins to pour the dark liquid in a thin stream, like a black ribbon, into each of us until we are filled to the rim with the steamy beverage.

And now, it is time to serve the men in the tent. The young nomad woman lifts the tray with me and the other cups of coffee. She offers us to the men. Dark leathery fingers reach toward us as the old men lean forward and take us by our rims. The boiling liquid will not burn them. Many years of holding hot coffee have calloused their skin.

The conversation wanes and is replaced with the satisfied sounds of approval, as the men sip the coffee and feel the strong flavor of ginger burning their throats when they swallow.


Teuum buun! They say to the young nomad woman. She smiles shyly and looks down at the ground.

This is her life. She knows nothing of the outside world. She is simple. She builds her tent, she milks her camel, and she makes coffee five times a day for her husband and his friends. She has her lot and she does it well. Her cup is full.

I am like her. I am nothing unusual really, just a little cup in the hands of a young nomad woman. She has six other cups just like me. I dont even have a handle and Im not very big at all. But five times a day I make my owners guests happy. Five times a day my cup is full.

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This article has been read 333 times
Member Comments
Member Date
C D Swanson 10/25/12
Love stories like this. Creative, and funn to read.Thanks. God bless~
Marie Hearty 10/25/12
A very unique story. I love it. I could imagine how the cup was feeling and the simple joy it had for how it made it's owner happy. If we could all have joy like that in the littlest things we do.

God Bless!
Ellen Carr 10/27/12
I really enjoyed your story. It is a unique and refreshing take on the topic and told so very well. Well done and thanks.
Theresa Santy 10/30/12
Lots of great, sensory detailed writing here. I loved your application of the theme and enjoyed reading this story.
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/01/12
This is a fantastic bit of writing. I really enjoyed the POV but even more I enjoyed being transported back to a time I have a hard time picturing. . . until now of course. The details were exquisite and helped me picture and think of things that wouldn't have occurred to me. Outstanding job with this in every aspect.
Dannie Hawley 11/02/12
Congrats on your first place finish with this article! Your descriptions were so vivid and true to the way it really is. It is sad to realize that there are women today, not just in the time of Christ, that have this same life. Nomadic communities are the same today as always. You've done a terrific job of bringing the plight of these dear ladies to us...thanks!
Noel Mitaxa 11/02/12
Congratulations on your first placing, and for such an atmospheric entry that is so absorbing, despite the tedium of nomadic life.
Willena Flewelling 11/02/12
Congratulations on EC first place! Your story made me curious... I googled ginger coffee to find out how to make it!
Willena Flewelling 11/02/12
Oops... not EC, but a well-earned first!! Maybe you will be EC next time! :)
Ellen Carr 11/02/12
Congratulations on your win,Jana. Well deserved!
Bea Edwards 11/03/12
Really interesting use of topic! I was fascinated throughout. Well done!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 11/03/12
Congratulations for placing first in your level and 11 overall!
Lois Farrow11/04/12
Beautiful entry, I love it. And congratulations on first place.