It has been an odd two days. I had a terrible day Tuesday. All of my classes were horrible. The principal was sick, so we went to his house and I went although I was dead exhausted and wanted to go home and cry, because it was a go home and cry kind of day. Then my friends wanted me to watch a football match for a while. I somehow relented. I suppose because I never do anything with them. I just go home. So I stayed for maybe 15 minutes. By then, it was nearly 6 o’clock.
When I went home, I found I did not have my house key. It is a hard thing to lose my housekey. It is either in my purse inside my backpack, or attached to a plastic clip in my backpack. But maybe that day I was carrying it in my hand on the way to school. Anyway, it was gone, and it seemed to me someone had taken it, and I felt deeply betrayed, because I had told my students to take something out of my backpack for me earlier in the day and they could have taken it from me then. I assumed they must have.
I went back to school just to be sure I hadn’t left it on my desk though. It wasn’t there. I met the girl’s school captain as I was coming back from my fruitless search. She was locking up the school gate, and I told her what had happened. She seemed to be worried about me. “Do you have a friend to stay with you?” I don’t know why she thought I needed a friend, but it seemed to trouble her. “I will stay with you.” I told her no, it was okay. Then she invited me into her house. I sat in the livingroom with her parents who don’t speak English, but that I see all the time. I guess her mom likes me. Anyway, I sat there while she did something in her bedroom. Which turned out to be packing her things to stay the night at my house.
Sometimes, there is this weird sense here in Country X of being an adult who is being shepherded about by children. C does this, but she is mostly focused on lint. It is maybe the odd part of being a foreigner. You are somehow inherently incompetent and must be looked after , but the children somehow do it more than the adults. Maybe the children love me more.
That aside, we went back to my flat and she helped me sort how to get the lock off. I sawed it off with a hacksaw blade from my landlord’s shop. Then she made tea and dinner. She had a question about her math’s homework, and she wanted to find a Korean song for a dance performance on Youtube. We did that. I tried to entertain her with some photos. She chatted on Facebook with C (they are good friends). Eventually, it was time for bed. “Where would you like to sleep?”
“With you, madame.”
Evidently, this is done. She slept in my single bed next to me while I mostly didn’t sleep. And in the morning, I got up at five and did my chores while she went on sleeping. She woke up maybe at quarter to seven. She put her National Dress on and then put mine on for me, because actually I haven’t worn National Dress with a belt for a long time, and it’s hard—my other outfits have Velcro and clips. I can’t remember how to do it really. If I did it myself, it would take 30 minutes again. She did it in about 1. Then she ate and we left.
At school, I met C as I was just arriving, and I answered a maths question. The bell rang, and we went our separate ways. Wednesday, unlike Tuesday, was a good day, mainly because I complained to 2 out of 3 class teachers about my unruly classes. I guess it was time to call in reinforcements.
Something else happened, which is that I got really angry at C for being late and not telling me. I think that was Monday. I talked to her about it, but I didn’t really feel better. The following day, it did help, because then it was clear to her what was expected of her so she could do it. I have told her she needs to tell me when she will be late, but maybe not in an entirely clear way or maybe not in a way that led her to understand its importance. And maybe I didn’t take the initiative either, because I was trying to tolerate the fear that she has died when I don’t see her instead of trying to relieve it. Now in the mornings, I ask C if she is coming when she doesn’t tell me—she has been having problems getting her sister ready for school, and her sister cries if she can’t go with C. The communication is reassuring to me. I think maybe it is mostly reassuring because it reminds me that I live in a world where I can be away from people and still know how they are. Leaving Yuri’s place was like leaving nowhere. There was the 7:30 pm call from Nata, but it couldn’t always be arranged, and nothing else but that strict coordination could be done to stay connected. The connection was severed as soon as I drove away in the car.
This brings us, I suppose, to Wednesday. As I said, it was a good day, but I hadn’t slept much and I was again completely exhausted. I was literally on the point of going off to bed when there was a knock at the door. The school captain again. She wanted help with quite a lengthy English assignment. We did that for a while. Then I told her I needed to go to the shops. There was nothing to eat in my house. We went, then on the way back picked up some greasy, fried things for dinner. Which incidentally, had a cockroach crawling around the edge of the dish they were kept while we were buying them. I did not get sick.
Oh, but what I didn’t say is that she came immediately into my bedroom and began to take off her National Dress. She didn’t have any other clothes to wear, so I gave her mine. Going out to the shops, she wore my jacket, because she was cold. It was like a door had opened the first time she came to stay in my house, and now I am her relative or something. It is entirely different from when the other students come to my house, who ask for permission to use the toilet. Which doesn’t mean she is rude. Just she feels totally she knows where the boundary is, and the boundary is in a place where she can use my things.
So it is Thursday now, and I slept better last night, but I’m still so tired. And I wonder what the day holds for me.