But, the show must go on and so, to end this day on an up beat, I decided to post a blog entry immediately. Perhaps, this minor journalistic act will stand as a game-changer, a way of moving on without forgetting, of continuing the important work that Vumi started and not letting her down by falling apart. Ujasiri....
The catalyst for all this commotion was my last meeting with Mongi, Vumi's husband and the father of their five-year-old daughter, Grace. Since her death, of course I've met with him several times: to plan the funeral, to follow up afterward, and now to recoup the many, many items belonging to the Project that she kept at her house.
In addition to being an amazing person and an incredible teacher, Vumi was also my entree to the community of Msaranga, and lived fortuitously close to the school and ward office.
Actually, it feels weird to be there without her. Not that I can't handle it or am shy about any of my other relationships there (as if!), but just that we were partners. She was the Robin to my Batman, the Watson to my Holmes, the Sancho Panza to my Don Quixote, the Costanza to my Seinfeld.... You get the picture.
Which isn't to say she wasn't a main dish in her own right. In fact, that *may* be my point here. Without her in Msaranga, with Toa Nafasi, I am the sidekick.
I have no one to (creepily and robotically) attach myself to and I am a bit lost without her. It is a new feeling and, because of that newness, uncomfortable. In my evilest thoughts, I almost wonder if she did this on purpose. To force me to grow up, take charge, and be the leader I am supposed to be. I did rely on her an awful lot....
Anyhoo, Hyasinta (the proper spelling of Madame Mwalimu's name!! And more beautiful than my "Yacinta") and I went round to Mongi's early this morning on a glorious Moshi Monday in which the mountain was just beaming down on us, the sun shining bright in the sky, and I had been jamming to some tunes on my way to work - embarrassingly seen by my friend Ali unbeknownst to me but reported later.... Note to self: MUST REMEMBER HOW SMALL THIS TOWN IS!!
We spoke briefly outside the house and then went in to pick up the various school supplies and other materials that had been in Vumi's safe-keeping. Jamani, she had a lot of stuff!! If I hadn't been the one to keep giving it to her, I would have called her a hoarder!!
Mongi had graciously bagged everything up and had it all ready for us, which was really great, but upon seeing it all there in a big bunch, I kinda lost it.
Which had not been my intention.
The last time I saw him, the dear bereaved man had shed tears, so my blubbering was really poor form, setting him off again. Hyasinta promptly told me to cut it out and thankfully, SHE kept it together, but for me it was like seeing a life in boxes. A life that I had come to take for granted. I mean, who can think of Fred Flintstone without Barney Rubble?? Bedrock could never be the same....
After returning to school and divvying up the goods (more tears as I reminisced over certain items: a book I'd given her, photos we'd taken of the first group of Toa kids, her notebooks - ones I remembered her writing in next to me, taking copious notes on each child's progress....), I calmed down and started paying attention to the Rubbles that I do have.
And I gotta say, my Vooms taught the girls well. Hyasinta is quiet and beautiful, but she is also careful and attentive. Ditto Elinami. Clara and Dorin are more like Vumi - outspoken and fun-loving. Dorcas has left us for the next few months to study in Norway (??!!) and then Guatemala (??!!??!!) on some kind of sponsorship, but I'm hopeful that she'll come along as well.
All in all, it was a good (ish) day. I can't say my eyes are dry as I write this, but my heart is hopeful. And my alarm clock is set - Hyasinta and I gotta be at KCMC bright and early tomorrow morning for more Wax Packers, so I really can't wallow around in the muck. And Vumi would kick my ass if she knew I was behaving thus. Ujasiri!!
Check out the photos below of the lovely ladies of The Toa Nafasi Project in fantastic and formidable action!!
Hyasinta takes charge.
And lil' heads bow to her attention.
In the nursery school classroom, Dorin takes control.
Brava, dada, I had no idea you had commandeered
your own classroom! Excellent use of time and space!!
NOBODY'S escaping Clara's eagle eye.
She is a stickler for perfection!!
(Within reason for slow learners in Grade One....)
(Within reason for slow learners in Grade One....)
Vumi's cache of books back at my crib.
On the left (tear....) a Young Adult novel I had bought in town
back in 2007 and read with her to help her English.
On the right, the first kids' storybook we used for Toa,
Kuku Mrembo (Beautiful Chicken).
She may have read that book a hundred million times!!
The large quantity of toys, games, and educational materials
we had stashed at Vumi and Mongi's. I had no idea!!
Kinda feel like I should have been paying her a monthly service fee a la U-Haul or some other storage facility....
Alas.... Next week, dear readers, I'll be writing you from New York City, where I'll be spending the next coupla months to fundraise and get my bearings back.
Be well, all, and many thanks for all the support. xxxx
PS: Peep this funny vid of Dorin trying to teach the kids the word kunywa (to drink) which is *very* close to the word kunya (to poop). Aahh, one can always count on the young to bring out irrational and inescapable giggles....