Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mourning for Mary

After learning of Mary's death we travelled to the home of her parents to pay our respects to the family. The family house was in one of the locations not far off the Great East Road. It was a very simple house and the family were obviously quite poor. In fact Mary was the only child of her parents who had been working. Her parents and her siblings had all been completely and utterly depenant on Mary for everything. Mary's death brought the family heartbreak and trauma but also economic ruin.

At the funeral home Betty went into the simple two room structure that was home to Mary's family and I joined the men in the yard. As in Zimbabwe and Botswana a bonfire was buring and all the men were sat around it. Many came and went. Some sat in silence whereas others chatted in Nyanja. Mary's father made me welcome and despite his grief ensureed that I was made to feel comortable at his home. I was almost embarrassed to be given the most comfortable seat in the tard whilst he himself sat on a battered old stool. I knew that to refuse his hospitality would have been to insult him so I accepted his welcome.

Mary's father and I chatted for some time until Betty emerged from inside the funeral house. He told me about Mary and how unselfish she was. She had worked incredibly hard and Hybrid and had reached middle management. Her career was the second most important thing in her life - after her family.

Mary left one young son. He was in his early teens. He was a well balanced and well rounded young man. He was bright, articulate and evidently well educated. Mary had been a single mother so her son was now an orphan. Tragically as well as losing his mother he would have to come to terms with other dramatic changes to his life. With his mothers passing away there would be no one to pay his school fees. The loss of a mother is tragic for any child but the implications of this loss would were immense.

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