The door of the little museum shop at Khwa ttu was closed. The rippled glass pane in the antique double doors confirmed there were people inside. I turned the handle and the door opened to quiet conversations inside.
As if scripted, the lady behind the counter and I exchanged glances and time melted.…the look on her face mirrored mine. Oh, how good is that warm feeling of seeing someone you have so enjoyed in times past. Memories are real! They breathe life into those moments when we touch the past, paging through history to the sentence, the paragraph, the story.
Wrapping each other in hugs and smiles, we revisited the little class of preschoolers at Khwa ttu, of which her child was one. Four years earlier I wandered into the facility intrigued by the call of the billboard on the highway – San Cultural and Educational Center. The story of man, specifically the bushman of South Africa, was compelling.
Khwa ttu was the beginning! A little class of children two to three years old and their hopeful moms was such a treat. The tiny facility, the little shaded play area, the magnificent view of the Atlantic, the willing minds and eager hearts imprinted my world forever. Visit after visit I came to train or teach, as they wanted. Then, the government closed the bit of heaven. Reasons are of little importance. I had lost my heart.
Nonetheless, each trip to South Africa I made my way up the long entry road to Khwa ttu in hopes of seeing the children, hearing the laughter behind the two neatly aligned stick windbreaks. I would ask for the families I had gotten to know. Fewer and fewer of them were at the center. Finally there were none left that I knew.
But still I returned, hoping for an encounter with the past. This time the past was there to meet me, confirming that the time given in that little class had made a difference for a family and their child. The child is 7 now and loves to read. That is the gift.
Memories are powerful, especially when they meet head on with the present. They are the stuff of our stories…our lives!