Flashback: February 2008. I'm standing in the paint aisle at CashBuild in Tzaneen... trying to decide if I should get the blue paint in a can or buy the white paint and get some blue color to add to it. It all came down to what was cheaper. My walls were leaking in my room and I needed something to seal the concrete... thought I might have it be a pretty color as well. A man and his wife were all the sudden next to me, speaking in Sotho, asking if I needed help. We ran through all the language I knew and then they switched to English. They said I still needed some practice, but I had done pretty well. They asked how I was getting all the paint home and I shrugged and told them all about the taxi to Metz. It soon came out that they lived in Metz... in the big house, right across the ravine, with the two water tanks, on the way to the post office. The husband said he knew where I lived before I could even tell them.... they were friends with MmaDiapo. He would come see me some time to prove that he was telling the truth. Then we parted ways... and it was one of those days where that whole conversation and their help with the paint made the day just a little bit easier. I hauled three huge paint cans through town and then onto the taxi. I was ready to get my room in some sort of homely shape. I got home that afternoon and started the prep work. Right before the sun went down, MmaDiapo was at the door saying that we had a visitor. Selahle (say-la-clay) was standing in the yard laughing. He really did know where I stayed. We all had a good laugh and I walked back into my room happy to have some new friends. From that day on, I would wave at them when I saw them in their yard on my way to the post office. I'd talk (only in Sotho, they wanted me to practice) to his wife when she was catering a lunch for a meeting at Kodumela. We saw each other off and on.... and pretty soon a year and some months goes by.
This morning I greeted MmaDiapo, shook hands with all the kids in the yard, and turned to head to work. Before I was at the gate, MmaDiapo yelled after me that she had some news. "Your friend Selahle has passed." "What? When?" "Last night, late. He had taken a rope to his farm, right next to mine, and hanged himself. It is sad, clearly I had no knowledge of what he must have been feeling or thinking." And that is it, he has passed. I hope he knew how much I appreciated him talking to me, feeling at ease with me. I hope he knew how much I liked his family. I think he did.