A couple of weeks ago I had my third moment, and by moment, I quote an earlier post from February:
There are incidents in life that I simply call “moments.” No three adjectives suffice to describe the moments. They are indeed memorable, but not to the extent of life-changing. They are not grand events, such as a wedding or a dental accident. They provoke some thought, but are perhaps more sentimental than stimulating.
Back in October, my beloved former Headmistress Mama Machinga passed away. We were very close, and it was a relationship that I valued deeply. Emotionally, it was not easy for me, as I have little experience with death; the most recent death in the family was back in '92, to which Seigo, the Japanese volunteer, replied "happy life." I felt no need nor desire to write about it on the tomzanian, and though it was an important event, I let it slide.
Although Mama Machinga was assigned to another school, her second daughter, Kalela, worked at Saba Saba as a part time physics teacher, and we were just like any other colleagues, a bit of friendliness and bit of distance. I never thought of her as a close friend, which makes the third moment even more surprising.
One day, couple of days after Mama's funeral, I was in the office doing some work. I was called by someone so I went outside to the hallway. It was Kalela. She told me that the family is leaving, with each member going their own paths. We did the usual small talk, and bode farewell. After coming back to the office, I was a bit perplexed. Why didn't she come to the office to say goodbye to the other teachers in the office? She could have just come into the office herself.
I soon realized that the bond that I created with Mama Machinga and her family was a lot firmer than I perceived it to be. After Mama's death, I visited the relatives in her house a few times, and wrote a letter to the family as well. I didn't think of the foreigner/local divide, or my lack of experience with death. I felt that it was just part of what I had to do, as if it's completely normal. In the end, through Kalela's farewell, I saw how these gestures were meaningful to Mama's family. It felt good to be recognized in such a way over the other Tanzanian teachers, and I will treasure this moment as a vote of confidence on my work/life hereonafter.