When I am not in class, the library or the computer lab, I usually sit with the other teachers and create lesson plans or write letters home. The small size of our staff rooms encourages chatter, most often in Sesotho.
Sometimes I will catch a bit of what they are saying and force them to switch to English. Other times, I let the words flow over my head. Once and a while, I will hear my name. I then always demand they tell me what they are talking about.
The other day I heard my name and stopped the conversation.
“’M’e, why did you say my name?” I asked one of the teachers who was looking at the ground.
After a good thirty seconds of laughter, she responded with, “I was talking about your nice food.” I was eating beans and tortillas, but I know that isn’t what she said.
“She is lying,” the other party of the conversation said.
I know people talk about me when I am not around, but I will not stand for those who speak about me in front of me.
I was growing angry as she wouldn’t depart from her food alibi. Finally, the other teacher told me why name was brought up in conversation.
“She said that she is going to take you to the (traditional) doctor to find you a Mosotho husband.”
“We just don’t want you to leave,” said another teacher.
It’s funny how, so many times, I think Basotho are being vicious and mean when I can’t understand them, but they are actually, and most often, being really sweet. Weird, but sweet.
I reminded them that I am not leaving for at least another year, so we still have plenty of time together. And then I told them what I always do when someone suggest I marry Mosotho man.
“My mother in America would cry if I got married without her.”
It always works. And it’s true.