Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sister Anne

Sister Anne. I honestly thought she despised me the first week I was here. I hardly ever saw her around, but when I did, she always seemed annoyed to see me, like I was in her way. She never smiled at me. For a week, we lived in the same house without ever having a real conversation... I always felt like I was being interrogated. For example:

One day, I saw her as I walked back from the school. “Hi, Sister Anne!” I said, deliberately smiling, because in my experience, a smile is the best way to show good will.
“Hi. Where did you come from?” she asked, not returning my smile.
“I was at the school,” I replied.
“What were you doing there?”
“I went to the office to use the internet.”
“Who gave you the key?” she questioned.
“Sister Juliana,” I said, pointing at the house.
“Did the internet work for you?”
“Yes. It’s slow, but it worked,” I explained.
“It was good?”
“Okay. Bye,” and she walked away.

Even when she was trying to be nice, her conversations with me, however brief, still consisted of her questioning me.

“Good morning, Sister Anne,” I said one day at breakfast.
“Did you eat?” she asked, ignoring my greeting.
“What did you have?”
“Some bread and some tea.”
“It was good?”
“Yes, very good.”
“Are you going to the school now?”
“Yes, in just a minute.”
“Okay,” she said, and just walked away.

I sincerely believed she disliked me, and I wasn’t sure why. I hoped that if I continued being nice to her, she’d eventually come around and smile at me once in a while, or talk to me without questioning me. I knew there was the possibility that she’d always dislike me, but I didn’t want that to happen.

One morning, I was with Monsieur Kofi before classes began, and he wanted to buy some books. We went to a classroom that was being used as a little bookstore where students or their parents could purchase the textbooks needed for their classes. Sister Anne, as the person in charge of finances, was in there collecting money from some of the students. She seemed angry, almost. She yelled at the kids, and even had a look of irritation when one of the parents tried to buy some textbooks for his first grader.

After that morning, I was a little bit relieved. Maybe it wasn’t just me. Maybe she acts this way toward everyone. I thought she must be an unhappy person, for whatever reason. Is she harboring resentment toward someone? Does she have a secret that makes her angry and irritable? Maybe she hates being a nun?

One day, I learned something about her that explained the way she was behaving and the reason why I hardly ever saw her. She works at the school from 7AM until about 4PM. She spends the day cooped up in a little office taking money from parents and students or dealing with financial issues. After she closes the office, she takes night classes at a local university. I had no clue! This explains why I never see her at dinner, or at all after school. She doesn’t get back to the house until 9 or 9:30PM, and with homework and everything, doesn’t get to sleep until sometimes 11 or midnight. Then, she has to wake up at 4AM to get ready for the day and to say her prayers (she is still a nun, after all). When I found that out, I suddenly understood why she always seemed to be in a bad mood. I think I’d be, too, if I had her schedule.

Also, I learned that she’s originally from Kenya. I’ve never been to Kenya, so I don’t know what people there are like, but it could be that their culture isn’t quite as welcoming as Ghanian culture.

I wonder if that has anything to do with why it took her so long to warm up to me... yes, I am pleased to say that she has. She suddenly started to be much nicer to me. I don’t know why, but I’m happy she did. Now, she laughs, smiles, and jokes around with me. One of her classes is Business French, and I have become her French tutor. Today was our first session!

I love making new friends!

1 comment:

JMJDave said...

This is great Kate. You make people happy just being with them!