We set aside one afternoon to visit our host mother in Namaacha.
I’ll admit that I was nervous. We’d lost touch after training, and hadn’t spoken in nearly two years. I wasn’t sure if she would recognize us, or even remember us at all. Some part of me was terrified to set foot in her quintal. What if she had moved? What if she didn’t know us?
All of our worries were put to rest, however, when we pushed aside the sheet-metal gate and tentatively called, “Licensa?”
“Sim?” Said the little woman, poking her head around the corner of the concrete barracca. Then, her face lit up like a sunrise.
“Eeeee,” she said, jumping to her feet and wiping her hands on her capulana. She started clapping and jumping from one foot to the other.
“Leeeesa!” She said. “Daniiiiii!”
For the next hour or so, we sat on plastic chairs, conversing. Mom ran around, procuring food out of nowhere, and urging us to eat.
“You’re too thin,” she scolded, pointing at my jagged shoulders. “It’s because you don’t have a mãe.”
She was exactly the same as I’d remembered; only this time her language was discernible. Was it me who had improved so much? Or had she improved, as well?
We asked about Ajuvencia, and about the baby.
“Ajuvencia’s in the city,” she responded, “working at a job. The baby’s name is Kelson, and he’s staying with her, too. He crawls now. And walks. And talks!”
Together, we marveled at the passage of time.
We talked for a long time, until Dan and I realized that we had to go. The three of us took a picture together with “Pai,” then walked out of the quintal in a slow-moving group. The moment wasn’t sad, however, as it had been with our other despedidas. We were saying a happy goodbye. We were just glad to see her again, and she was glad that we hadn’t forgotten her.
“It’s no small feat,” Mom said, “Two years. You did good work in your service, you two. And by God’s good work, we’ll all meet again.”
|Our host family home in Namaacha|
|With Pai and Mae on the front stoop of the family home|