It is very easy to forget I am living in Kampala when I am in the classroom. It is as if I was in a tiny enclosed capsule, far removed from the world; in a fairy land encrusted with apostrophes and garlands of vocabulary. I am teaching three works of Shakespeare simultaneously to three different classes and I could easily be in Elizabethan London for the words that are uttered unto thee whilst I speak in dainty riddles. One work is the always delightful Midsummer Night’s Dream. When I first presented it to the class there were cries of derision, stamps of protest! “No Miss! Shakespeare is boring and hard! We won’t understand that funny way he talks! Come on!”
Now they beg me each class for more. “Please Miss can we read today?”
They are eager to read more about Puck’s magic gone wrong, Oberon and Titania’s fight over a sweet little Indian boy and the saga of Helena and her unrequited love.
On the other hand Romeo has just met Juliet and in proving himself to be either love struck or ridiculously fickle, has dropped all thoughts of Rosaline and is head over heels in love with sweet Juliet who “seems she hangs upon the cheek of night As a rich jewel in an Ethiop’s ear.”
I have both Indian boys and Ethiopians in my classes. The conversations are most intriguing.
And finally I have discovered that Much Ado about Nothing was really pronounced Noting back in the day so that changes everything from Nothing to Something after all. There is some discussion over why Hero would take back any man who had slandered her so; actually what was she thinking marrying some guy she barely knew? They girls in my class are shocked, the boys sneer.
The conversations are most intriguing.
Then I leave the building and drive up the road past a line of girls wrapped in colour walking in the sun, yellow Jerry Cans atop their heads as they carry water home for the night. They practically skip down the hill tossing the plastic yellow can to and fro, laughing and holding hands, while their burden is light. The youngest carry the smallest cans; the oldest often carry two or three. Up the hill, with their cans filled to brimming they seem not to struggle at all. Their smiles never betray a grimace behind the truth of their day, their load is never questioned. Smile on; climb high, day by day the same.
How many worlds do I live day by day?