Friday, October 2, 2009

A Professional Speed Walker

The waves of alternating excitement and nausea are becoming more recurrent. I have so much to get done before I leave and so little time. I am busy right now labeling every book in the library. The librarian is helping me. And by helping, I mean I write out the labels for the books, stack them up nicely for her, cut the labels, cut the tape to stick the labels on them and lay it out for her. Plus I’m marking my own books. The other day she said “Professora, once the furniture comes, I am going to be very tired.” I bit my lip and continued marking physics books. If all goes well, marking books should be done by the middle of next week. The final deposit has been made and the furniture is ready to be delivered. It is going to be delivered next week and I can’t wait!

Right now, it’s difficult to focus on library work in the library itself because the school is matriculating students for school next year in the same room. So there is a Mozambican line of students of all ages waiting to register for school. A Mozambican line is a mob. No single-file formation. Ah, I have fond memories and look forward to single-file lines in the states. That and talking to someone who works at the bank whose personal cell phone is ringing and them not ignoring you to talk to their cousin. But anyhoo, in the library, it doesn’t help either that the man doing the matriculation is a tempestuous old man with a sharp tongue. I am constantly hearing “stand in a straight line like humans!” and “what do you think I am? Your servant? Fill your paperwork out correctly.” The kids just laugh but I’m fairly certain that if that man yelled at me, my drawers would be soiled.

The new sewing machine is absolutely wonderful! Haven’t had a problem with it yet (knocking on my bed frame as I write that)! The girls have become so much more productive with two. Before, they all stood around the one while one girl toiled on hemming a capulana for what seemed like a decade. I have been practicing my own skills to work with the girls and I have made two dresses and a shirt. I’m getting quite good and I’m not afraid to toot that horn. We were originally going to have a fashion show with what the girls have learned but because of the sewing machine problems and not receiving our funding until last week, I think that we will size it down to a small show. All the girls got capulanas for group solidarity. Very exciting stuff. We are having our group meeting at a girls’ house on Saturday so that her mother can teach embroidery to the girls. Personally, I don’t have the patience to embroider, but the girls are churning out tablecloths. Soon, there won’t be enough tables for all of them.

I am enjoying my last few class periods with my students. They are hilarious. Everyone still calls Hermengildo Timba. I have seen him chasing other kids around the schoolyard over calling him that name. I feel like that nickname might stick but I also think he secretly enjoys it. The kid who almost got beaten up for sassing an older man outside during a bathroom break has actually become a very good student. It’s funny because each time before class, he stands outside the door with his arms crossed and his collar popped like a classroom bouncer. He even held the door open for me and smiled. He’s now a little more distant cry from the boy who tried to kick my dog last year.

Next week, I give my students their final test they will ever have with me. After that, I give them back their results. I think I might offer them the possibility of giving extra credit if they go and get an HIV test and present proof that they went. They want higher grades and it’s important for them to know their status. I’m feeling sad leaving them. I have started to feel like a second mother to them. I feel choked up at the thought that I will never stand in front of them again with a piece of chalk in hand, joke around with all of them or even throw a kid’s notebooks out the door to kick him/her out. I will definitely take class time speed-walks to the latrine off my “will miss” list. I do hope to have a fun last day of school though, and bring music and just hang out a bit.

Next weekend, after the library project is completed, I will be taking three of my REDES girls to Ilha to visit the women’s association and stores to get ideas of things to sew and make, and to give them a small vacation from Monapo. They are pretty excited about it. I am going to talk to their parents to get permission since they are teenage girls. I went to visit one of the girls’ houses last week to see why she hadn’t shown up to a meeting. I was sitting with her aunt, chatting and talking about her family. I asked her how many children she has and she said “two boys. But I’m hoping to have a girl. I need someone to prepare xima.” Xima is maize. So, basically she wants a worker. I am more than happy to give her niece a well-deserved trip, since she seems more like a housekeeper than a member of the family. I just hope that the aunt agrees.

Timba is as wily as ever. Taking him for walks still never gets old. I was walking with my roommate to the market the other night and I took Timba along because he had been cooped up all day. It was like the parting of the Red Sea with people when we walked there. I was sitting at a corner stand with the dog, away from the crowd, petting him and waiting for Nia to buy some juice. People were looking at me like I was petting a crocodile. All of a sudden, one of Nia’s students sees the dog from about twenty feet away and starts screaming like he’s attacking her. Then we walked back to the house and we saw her again, standing ahead of us with her back to us. Being sympathetic to her phobia, we did the right thing. We snuck up behind her with the dog and stood behind her. He didn’t even do anything. He just stood there. And she started screaming and sprinted all the way down the road to her house. And we laughed all the way back to ours. I know that it’s probably horrible that we picked on a person’s phobia, but people need to learn that dogs aren’t just guards. They are also fun little beasts that are dull-witted enough to repeatedly chase the same stick, yet smart enough to steal boiled eggs off the kitchen table when you are busy washing your hands. That potato salad just wasn’t the same that night without those eggs.

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