Sunday, May 16, 2010

Slapped by reality

Every once in a while there is a moment here that delivers a slap in the face. It usually happens when I least expect it, which makes it all the more traumatic.

Since my first visit, Nompumilelo has been a constant shining light of energy and a youthful vibrancy by very few I had come across, especially in Canada. She constantly expressed her wish to be a dentist and to volunteer with African Impact in her community. Pumi, we called her, would go so far as to meet us to help build bricks and paint the church in 2008.

She just graduated school, a feat not easily completed here with such a high dropout rate, particularly among grades 10 and 11.

I drove past a seven-month pregnant Pumi yesterday.

It brings back questions I've received while teaching HIV education. "Why are you not pregnant?" they would ask me, "Why do you not have a baby?"

I know I am to remember that culturally a baby could be very welcome by Pumi's family, especially because the father, also a friend of mine, is taking responsibility for the baby, as far as I can see.

But it still delivers a pang of what may be grief for what Pumi has lost, or guilt that I have never had to deal with what she must be going through.

Or maybe it's relief that it never happened to me.

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