Saturday, January 14, 2012

Sisterly love!

Family takes on different meanings at different times in ones life.  We have our natural family,  friend families, work families, and animal families.  So here in Botswana, I am not surprised to have another family, actually two families, my host family, and my Peace Corps's just par for the course.  I grew up having just one brother who is tall, handsome, successful, quiet, and let's see what other good stuff I can say about him.  Me, I was opposite...short, active, curious, and always in trouble...but successful too!  Brothers do funny things to show their love and affection like hiding in your closet and pretending he's a ghost, or telling me that my bed is from Africa with snakes in it, or tickling me under the chin til I was tortured.  Nice guy, ya gotta watch out for those nice quiet ones.  He even taught my 3 nieces how to torture me under the chin.  Even though those were childhood experiences, it's no wonder I check my bed here every night for snakes, well, it's not really a bed, but I am sleeping in Africa.  Wouldn't it have been nice to have sisters, especially older ones who would show you the way.  Not that I want to get rid of my brother, but hey!  It was so much fun hanging out with my older girl cousins growing up in the old days, as well as watching my grandmother and her 3 sisters go at it all the time.  There just didn't seem anything that could break that bond.  Now in Africa, I seemed to have gotten my wish with 3 sisters I can call my own.  Kesego is 6 and we have an established relationship...she rules the roost, and I turn into a 6 year old, pouting when I don't win a game.  Peo, 23, is sometimes in her own internet world, but we've had some really good, long chats about life.  She has even snapped at me a few times---makes me feel right at home.  Joy, 36, the outgoing one, is living in the UK getting her Ph.D.  She comes homes every so often, but most recently she was in China for several months doing an internship.  Joy hated China, hated it's food, hated it's people, hated it's street life, hated everything.  I'm here drooling over her descriptions of the food, the people who shove you all around, and it's vibrant street life.  Gee Joy, ya couldn't have even brought me an egg roll for the new year!  Joy is great though, and the minute she landed in Botswana, she called me to say hi!  Now that's a nice sister--eggroll or not!

Recently, it was about 4 in the afternoon, when Joy and Mom came knocking on my door in Mmathethe, with a food basket, and telling me to get dressed we're going out a night on the town.  Uh, what town?  There's nothing around for at least 30 miles or so.  What the hey---I ate my late lunch, packed an overnight bag just in case, fed crazy Keoki, and hopped in the car.  "Where we going mom."  "I don't know, we're just going like the birds do."  Great, I love being a free spirit, going to nowhere in 500 degree heat.  She was right, we wound up in the middle of nowhere to watch traditional dancers and singers bringing in the New Year.  It was so beautiful out in the middle of nowheresville.  Mom immediately noticed that so many were greeting me, so she said, "Tshepo, since you are the Mayor around here, can you get us some food."  They only cook for the dancers, but I was served immediately!  It feels good to have Mayor status in these parts!  As soon as I got my plate, Joy shoved her hands in and ate everything.  "Tshep, you better get something for mom."  I get another plate, and Joy shoves her hands in and eats everything.  I slap her vulture hands, embarrassed, I ask humbly for another plate.  "Tshepo, you sure are hungry tonight."  "Yes, I haven't eaten in days, I'm as starved as a vulture." "Well then, you can have anything you want sweetie."  Joy is behind me laughing, and mom is just proud to have a daughter with clout around the food table!  Joy is satiated now, sitting back on the chair, as I sit on the dirt, leaning up against her legs.  She leans over and tells me that as much as misses African food, she misses the smell of the dirt more.  I tilt my head back to watch her proudly sniffing and watching her native land.  I guess no matter where you are, home never leaves you, and I sat wondering how many plates I'll stick my hands into whenever I get home.

That night, the 4 of us sisters sat huddled together, laughing about Joy being a pig, and talking about mom, family, our differences, and wondering why nobody in this town has a pool we can cool off in.  Since it's so hot, we all fall asleep in the only semi-cool room in the house.  I awoke before all with Joy's feet in my face, Kesego's head on my stomach, Peo dreaming of Facebook, and mom at the doorway just looking at this sight.  She motioned for me to get up, and when I did, she gave me a heartfelt look, one of those right through your soul looks, and said to me, "Tshepo, you were meant to come here."  Anxiously waiting for her to tell my why on earth I'm not in Asia where my heart is, she says, "We have been your family for many moons, now go wash your mouth and make us breakfast."  Frankly, I didn't think she had it in her to talk like a far out Californian, but something in her knows that we were meant to find each other.

sister Joy enjoying birthday brownies from the USA
I don't know how my time here will play out, or what's in store, but maybe she's right---maybe this family and I are cosmically tied to one another in some way.  What I do know is that I feel very loved by each and every one of them, especially my sisters, and I feel a sense of peace brewing in me---something I haven't felt in a very long time.  It's funny though, last night when we got home, out of the blue, mom said, "wouldn't it nice if we were in Thailand."  I popped up and started packing my bags!  But no matter, whether in Thailand or Africa, I have 3 sisters and great family ties here in Africa that I have come to love----now only if I had that egg roll--life would be perfect!

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