I was nervous about meeting the girls down at the sewing school. I call them girls. They are mostly in their 20’s. Alima must be in her early 60’s. I think. No clue really. But they matter to me, so much and I felt I had let them down. Guilt is one of my go-to emotions. I can carry it around for ages and you’d never even know. I left and I didn’t come back. No matter the reasons, I felt I had abandoned them. I left them in very capable hands, but I left and entered the easy life and with that comes a certain level of guilt. I suffered just enough in a job I loathed to make it all bearable. But I carried the weight of them. Almost daily I put them in the hands of God and slowly plucked them back and carried them around some more. Their salaries. The money. Payment. Sales. Their livelihood. Broken sewing machines. No electricity. Marketing. Exporting. All my fault. All my responsibility. They remained in capable hands. Hands, actually far more affectionate and detail oriented than mine. Yet, always felt I could have done more.
So when I walked into the sewing school on my first day, I was prepared for cold shoulders, for them to question why I left them, to be interrogated. When I opened the door, they screamed. They ran into my arms and they embraced me. Strangely enough a young Makua boy walked in behind me and he translated all I wanted to say into their heart language. I poured my heart out and apologised for everything. I cried. They hugged me. Then they each took turns, even the new girl, Sonia who I didn’t even know. And they all told me what I meant to them. They each took the floor and told me in their beautiful Makua words how much I had helped them. They admitted they were sad when I left but told me they had been praying for me to come back to them. Every one of them thanked me for teaching them and they all said they would not be where they are without me and how they are so grateful. And right then I knew why I had been carrying them all along, because they were carrying me. Their love was being delivered to me every single day and I was covering them in exhausted night time prayers and afternoon utterances of, “God, help.” And after I finished my confession and they uttered their love and devotion, Marcelina broke out in song and the girls joined in. And I just sat there astounded. I felt the weight of them lift as I watched each of them pick up where they had left off, sewing, ironing and cutting whilst they sang and we all sat there together. And now I know when the burden comes back to simply join them in the songs of prayer and thanksgiving because they are doing the same for me.