Marianne de Nazareth


Vol 0 | Issue 1

They say, ‘patience is a virtue’ but how many of us really practice it? With the stress and strain of everyday living, most of us just rush through life, hurriedly completing the numerous challenges of the day, barely making time for family or friends. That seemed to be the norm with everyone who crossed my life’s path, till I met Masego Tamaku from Johannesburg, South Africa.

Masego said (Masehhhooo with the ‘ho’ being expelled with a rush of air from your lungs) had come to Wales to do her Masters in Community Service. Her skin was as smooth as dark chocolate and she was not tall and heavily built, or loud, like most of the other African women in college. Masego was petite, soft spoken and taught me more lessons as my flat-mate than any else ever did.

We were both in Swansea, in Wales for a year. I was doing Journalism with specialisation in War and Conflict and she wanted to increase her skills with a British degree in Community Service. Like most Indians, I would spend long hours tied to my desk, studying and writing.

My computer was the extension of my arm and the bad British weather was my excuse to avoid getting out of the room. Masego on the other hand always planned her day starting with an early morning walk. Get out and walk, she would say. Clear the cobwebs in your brain and only then start your studies for the day.

Evenings would find Masego in the kitchen, her laptop on speaker mode and as she relaxed cooking a meal from scratch, she would chat with her family on Skype. Say hi to my son, she insisted if we walked into the kitchen to hurriedly concoct a salad or boil up some one minute noodles. Masego made her French fries peeling potatoes and slicing them - nothing ready- made for her with preservatives.

Then she would grill fillets of fish or legs of chicken, drain off the oil and that was her dinner which she would eat by 7pm. No eating after 7pm for her because she believed anything eaten after that is not digested and then the human body tends to bloat. Music filled the kitchen and she relaxed, sometimes dancing along to the music or just humming aloud. Every human being needs time to unwind and relax she said. We do not need liquor for that, we just need to switch off and think of happy things and connect with the family.

Weekends were used to clean up her room, wash her clothes and if it was her turn, clean the kitchen and the baths. There too I learnt from her – no sketchy half done cleaning , everything from the inside of the freezer to below the table was swabbed and scrubbed clean. Garbage was segregated and carried down to the dump.

But where I opened my Indian eyes in cleanliness was the cleaning of the baths and the toilet in the flat. Everything from the shower curtain to the inside of the toilet bowl was scrubbed and sparkled. There was a dignity of labour that she taught us. ‘Don’t expect someone else to clean up after you’ was hammered home by deeds not by words.

Thanks Masego, thanks for those wonderful lessons which you gave so willingly and I was lucky to get.

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