Again… another Skype call?!
After years of trying to tutor my family into simple video calling, my sister has finally gotten the hang of it. I live in the Western Cape province, studying at the University of Cape Town (UCT) and she works in the Eastern Cape +2000 km away.
I am leaving for the U.S tomorrow. I will be doing an internship at John Snow Inc. in Washington DC for six weeks. At the start of this year I was selected for the prestigious South African Washington International Progam sawip.org, it is for this reason that I take-off tomorrow. The thought of my absence, living in a different time zone has struck her. She is now taking personal initiative to ensure that we keep in touch. Prior, she could pick up the phone & catch me on Cell C ‘free on weekends.’
She’s– trying– to– Skype– call…Sigh.. Again?!
“I just want to make sure it works..” she shouts…thinking I cant hear her.
I am tempted to roll my eyes in disbelief, its 1:28am, this is her sixth check. I cant keep up with our small talk and I must upload a blog and be up by 6am in time to catch my flight .
“Caaaann YOU see meeee?” she shouts…
“I must go” I shout back, “I mu-u-u-st upload my blog-finish packing-wake up!”
Two days prior, my mother had called (phone call, ofcourse)..to check if I had everything in order.
Sihle! Are you packed?! She proceeded to read from her long list:
Your toothbrush and toothpaste?
Are your toiletries in order? Its hot there, you must have sunscreen..
Your facials? A young lady must have her toner and cleanser.
Pajamas’s? Your sleepwear must be clean, you are going to be living with other people and your Bible? And all the things you can NEVER borrow from others, please.. basics Sihle..
Her list never gets old, I hear it when I leave home for University. I heard it when I was in high school going for youth camps or sleepovers.
This is what it means to say ‘umntu ngumuntu ngabantu’ loosely ‘a person is because of other people.’
It dawns on me that there are certainly many ways to say ‘I love you.’ More-so with family. Right before I board tomorrow, I will make quick “I’m about to take off calls” sending short sms’s xx with kisses written as*mcwaah* and good-byes. These too will be unconscious acts. Natural acts of love.
Similarly, when I come back from the U.S, one or two of them will know my arrival time, long anticipating my return. eagerly anticipating souvenirs and secondary to souvenirs, me. They will sit around me and attentively or not listen to my animated tales, the adventures of the big American life, the people encounters, the sight of the Big Apple. Tale after tale will weave me back into my old life, simplicity and commonness with them. Yet in it all– bound by love and genuine care.
I wrote this post two years ago in 2014.
Its 2016 now and I am living in China. The surety of this agape like love has not changed. Its enduring. In fact, I received an email from my mother yesterday after she had missed our 8pm Skype date.
It read: How do I log onto Skype kanene/ (remind me again)…