Mark and Morgan* stood in the staff room speaking softly and staring straight ahead as to look at no one. Both have plump brown lips, high cheekbones and big eyes. They are in trouble, their faces say so, but because the conversation between them and the other teachers is in Sesotho I have no idea as to why.
The 20-minute break lapses and I decided to break up the passing of non-understandable words with, “What did they do?”
Mark and Morgan were arguing. She insulted him and he reacted. Despite that I have spent three months teaching these two life skills – making good decisions and handling those who do us wrong – this is how they behave. I curtly remind them of so.
“They were lovers last year,” one teacher offers as explanation for such conduct. Yes, it makes sense now.
When they finally return to class the same teacher gives me the background story and what occurred to cause this fight. It’s not unlike a love story that happens every day in America.
Boy and girl date. They separate. Girl, not over boy, reaches out to rekindle that love. Boy gently turns the girl down in a friendly way. Girl insults the boy’s man parts in her rage, hoping he’ll come around. Boy, not sure what to do, sends the sign that the relationship is definitely over.
Maybe it’s because I lived a some-what sheltered life until the age 22 or I thought culture meant different, but I rarely suspected that people in Africa would deal with the same issues of the heart – the ones that seem insignificant to everyone else but rupture your entire world – we do in the developed world. Sure, both of Morgan’s parents have died and there is little money for her, her grandmother and siblings to live off, but what keeps her up at night is her unreturned feelings for Mark.
That could be me reading into it like romcom staring Kate Hudson, but knowing Morgan the way I do I bet I am close to the truth.
In way I feel better about myself. I’ve played the role of the Girl before. I’ve loved someone who hasn’t loved me. I’ve had my heart broken. Now, here in Lesotho, as I try to navigate between wanting to help and what I can really can do, it’s nice to know that my life experiences aren’t completely foreign to theirs.
Even so, in this third world nation, teenage love is still equally annoying as intriguing. As any lovesick American pupil, I’m sure Morgan and Mark will give over the love gone astray just fine.