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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Eight Months of A New Beginning…Part I

 

I am beginning the eighth month of my stay in Botswana. I have had a good experience so far. Arriving in southern Africa has given me a feeling of being part of something bigger than me, although I really cannot give concrete form to that concept.   I have seen things that are both familiar and foreign.  I have experienced a myriad of emotions, some of which conflict with each other.  I have felt great joy in actually being here and sorrow as I witness the disparity between a people in their own country and foreigners – non-Batswana.

Rather than overwhelm you with the details of my experiences and thoughts all at once, I will share them individually each day until the end of the month.  Beginning with the one below. It was the first time I had spent any significant time with a  Batswana.I should have been more sensitive.  But when I saw the pictures of faces staring back at me as though they were from a different era, my only thought was that these were obviously the children of her children.  The realization that they were indeed her children and not her grandchildren was brought to me by her words.  Words that caused me to look at her again with renewed inquiry.

  Just how old was this woman whom I had thought to be my age or older?

When I re-examined her face I could see that she bore not the wrinkles of age, in fact her face was lineless.  What she bore was the experience of a life being fully lived.  She is the mother of nine.  Each of her nine children’s birth and rearing was the overlay of her facial ruggedness.  She is a solemn woman who is not given to much laughter or many smiles.

She spoke of a son who himself had become a father.  Although she lamented his immaturity and inability to care for himself, much less another human being, she spoke almost defensively about his need to not take responsibility for the child he had assisted in conceiving.  I was surprised by her utterances.  She was not one to speak much.  I got the impression she spoke on her own terms as though it is the one thing in her life she controls fully.

Earlier I had tried to broach a conversation with her.  She stopped me mid-way and said, “We will talk later.  I must get back to work now.” At that point I felt as though she needed to tell me what should be done.  It happened again at the end of the first day.  She told me that she needed some cleaning supplies.  When I asked what it was she needed, she gave me a list that duplicated the items I already had.  The difference was in the name of the brands.  There are certain brands that she not only prefers but, expects.  I think she may be very disappointed once she sees that I also have a preference for cleaning supplies which are neither the ones currently in my home nor the brands she named.  I am going to teach her to say, “Amway.”

At the end of the day she handed me a photo album of her family.  This is the point where my assumptions gave me pause.  It was here that I saw the faces of people I now know as her children looking back at me.  She is a mother, and I know that she is also daughter, wife, and confidant. Now she is my housekeeper.  She shares her life with me in bits and pieces.  She has become warmer to our relationship and I suppose my American ways.  We are finding our rhythm together.  Perhaps one day she will tell me her story.  And perhaps I will share more of my own.  For now, I am content that she is happy married to the man she loves in accordance with the law and the traditions of her heritage.

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Posted by on May 12, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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