There is too much death, too much sadness.
After months and months of sadness but no tears I finally broke down. Every week here in Botswana there is a funeral, every single week. There is too much death, too much sadness.
As I sit here and write I desperately try and think of how I will put into words the sadness I feel for a student at my school. On Sunday October 10th his Mother passed away from being "sick". I put the word "sick" in quotations because it is the word often used to describe someone living with HIV or AIDS. I do not know if this particular woman died from complications of the disease but I can only wonder. His father already passed a couple of years ago and he is left with an older and younger brother. He himself is 15.
This evening I attended the prayer service which occurs the night before the burial. He lives quite close to me so I made my way to his families house. Batswana women are expected to wear certain attire to funerals so I put on a dress, something to wear around my shoulders and a scarf to cover my head. When I arrived I went to where the females sit because there is a place for men to be and a separate place for women. We all sat and waited for the body to be brought from the capital of Gaborone. Some sat in silence while others spoke softly to one another. When the body arrived everyone stood. As the coffin was unloaded from the car a low, beautiful murmur of a song began to be sung all around. Though the song was sung in Setswana and I couldn't understand the words it didn't matter because I felt the beauty in my heart. I watched as the coffin was brought passed us and placed inside the house. While a pastor prayed inside the house with some relatives everyone outside continued to stand and silently listen to his words through apen door and windos. I turned to the people standing around me and I noticed the boy from my school standing next to a younger boy who I took to be his brother. I couldn't help but watch him. A woman inside the house was sobbing loudly and though I couldn't see a tear among anyone else in the crowd I saw the boy's eyes. They were filled with tears but not once did one drop.
As the relatives and pastor exited the house the singing began again, this time it was louder and filled with heartache. My eyes became blurry but I held back tears, though it would have been ok it just didn't feel right to be crying among people who were not. Especially because my tears would have been for the boy because I never met the Mother. After a prayer some people began to disperse while others waited around for food to be served. I waited a few minutes but I felt out of place and too vunerable so I stood up and started home. I heard my name as I walked past a neighboring home on the compound, "Miss Duggan..." and when I turned to look I saw the boy. He was standing in a doorway with his hand on the younger boys shoulders and he smiled and waved. It was a sad smile, an appreciative smile. I smiled back and softly waved. I will hold his smile in my mind forever. Here is a boy who lost his Mother. Here is a boy who lost both his parents. Here is a boy standing with his younger brother at their Mother's prayer service, being strong, brave, and smiling. Behind that smile there is a lost and scared boy. Behind that smile there is a broken heart. Behind that smile there is a boy who is forced to become a man.
There is to much death, too much sadness.
If you believe in God, say a prayer for Maogisi Koko and his brothers.