Casually attired in a military green T-shirt, blues jean with brown leather sandals, Seitebaleng walked into our conversation – and I just knew it would be a memorable evening. We had waited the whole afternoon. Here she was, just as she looked in the picture, aside from being smaller than I had expected. Otherwise everything else was a perfect fit; full lips that reveal a gap between her upper teeth- when she smiled – and she did it often. The pony tail styled extension emphasizing her peaceful countenance. She became our assurance; she grounded us, at least that day.
Seitebaleng is not physically domineering; she is a small woman with a commanding unexplained aura that can force even the strongest to pause. When she talks you listen and you laugh when she laughs. She is the kind of person you would have a short time with but would leave a lasting impression. Her genuineness was a breath of fresh air, a therapy. She had a distinctly hoarse voice like she had just woken up or was recovering from a bad cough. Her conversation revolved around nature, the everyday people she works with. Seity, as we fondly called her, works with disadvantaged children in some of the remotest villages of Botswana. She helps the most poor – but before we shared our stories, we could not have guessed. The 230pm meeting at the Falcon Crest Hotel that Saturday, was a culmination of weeks of planning, nights of communication on all types of platforms available. The idea of pulling together our high school classmates started early in the year while chatting with an old friend. But it was only in September that we got to work. In less than a month we had 60 ‘Class of 91’ members on our closed Facebook page. Twenty five years later, we were planning to meet, most of us, for the first time. I had expected it to be an exciting time of reminiscing about the past; of laughing at our naivety then; of celebrating life. Thus the crippling anxiety was a shocker. The friendly ambience, freshly cut, lush green grass; the soothing sound of water from the nearby fountain ceased to matter. The very things that attracted me to this place were now inconsequential.
My head had other concerns: “How is it going to be? Who will come? I’m I dressed appropriately?” On and on my head spilled some silly questions? “Will I be comfortable?”
Seitebaleng was the most engaging in the weeks leading to the Falcon Crest meeting, encouraging, almost coercing us to attend. Her excitement was palpable. Surprisingly she also remembered more people than anybody else, so we naturally warmed up to her. I could not remember her from our high school days, but she was the one person I was waiting here for, the person whose coming could have calmed me. Five ladies arrived ahead of her, but it was when she arrived that the tension dissipated.