Saturday, April 08, 2006

A Phone Call

hello to everyone, today marked the end of our three weeks at MadAboutArt in the township Nekkies- it was a truly amazing, intense, inspiring, and hard experience, as i'm sure you could tell from some of the emails. this past week has particularly felt special, as it truly feels like we are now friends...indeed, in this week after we spent the wekend, i got a beautiful letter from one of the students (ill quote it later), i got to see them filming in action their own film and get so into it (my
favorite part), there was a parents evening where they gave hero awards to their parents and a certificate to melanie and me, they opened up to us. i find myself feeling especially close to beatty, who i have written about in probably every email, and we were talking one day and realized that i am the first white person her age she has ever hung out with. and, we realized as she translated "picking a wedgie" for me in her language (letting the person out of jail in Xhosa if you're interested), that despite our differences, we all get underwear stuck up our butts!

but still, lest i not get too feeling good about life, yesterday when we said goobye, there was a feeling of dread, as melanie visited Beatty's sister Jennifer in the hospital and said that she wasn't doing too well. And today, 20 minutes ago as I sit in the backpackers on my way to Cape Town, overlooking the ocean, she calls my phone (the first time she has), and instead of summarizing the conversation perhaps i should let her/me/it speak for itself...

beaty: Hello, Maital. It's Beaty. I just wanted to let you know that
my sister has died.
Maital: Yes, I heard this morning and tried to call. I am so sorry,
Melanie and I are both thinking of you.
Beaty: Yes, she called us last night to come over, and Olivia (her
daughter), Ebby (her nephew) and I (her sister) went. She was in such
pain. When we got there, she was screaming. But when she saw us she
held it back and just held my hand. SHe even gave us a smile before
she died.
Maital: I am so sorry. (what do you say in situations like these).
At least she is no longer in pain. when is the funeral?
Beaty: It is next Saturday. If we can't afford to pay I will ask
Larry to borrow money from him,because he said he would and he can
take it from my money every week.
Maital; How much does it cost?
Beaty: I don't know , I find out Monday. A lot of people came to the
house today and I didn't konw what to do. It's sad to think she'll
never be here again, I just keep looking at the photos. I don't konw
if you have a sister, but now I realize I am alone (her other seven
siblings have all died, she is the only one left). I'm trying to be
strong but I feel like every in falling to pieces inside. At least I
have the photos.
Maital: And you will always have the memories, and you have her
strength. How is Olivia doing?
B: She's pretty strong, she's here. But Ebby is not, we don't know
where he is and I am worried because when she died he said Two Gone,
One To Go (for those reading that don't know yet, his mother died,
now his aunt, and now Beattyis the only one left, but she too must
battle HIV).
M: And how is your mother?
B: She is strong.
M: And Timmy (Beatty's daughter whom I absolutely adore).
B: She cried hard all yesterday and mom said she woke up in the middle
of the night, crying and crying. And then, at1:30am when my sister
passed, she fell asleep. I only hope I can sleep tonight. And
M: I heard you are wearing red ribbons to the funeral?
B: Yes, because although she died from cancer, it (AIDS) was still a
part, and we want our family to know that it will stop. Also, I want
to film it, to borrow Larry's camera, and I will send you the tape.
But I just wanted to call to hear your voice, and to tell you thank
you for being here and driving us to the hospital.
M: Well, I feel like I should be thanking you. And if it would be
okay we would love to come to the funeral.
B; I just can't believe it. She was in such pain when she came. Her
body already started to smell. Wait, Olivia wants to say hello

(I'm a bit surprised)

Olivia: Hello
Maital; HI olivia how are you?
O: I'm fine thanks, how are you.
M: I'm really sorry about your mother, She was a beautiful woman and
strong like you. We are thinking of you.
O; THank you, bye.

Beaty: Okay Maital I just wanted to hear your voice and say thank you.
M: Okay Beaty, I will call later.

I got off the phone, and felt that I had to come and share this with all of you. I came to South Africa only six weeks ago and after not feeling culture shock the first three weeks, I have now made friends and become close with young adults my age who come from a very different place. 28 million people infected by HIV in Sub-saharan Africa has now become, to me, my friend's family.


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