“I’ll take the radio back to the shop if it’s causing arguments,” I yelled. “I’ve had it with petty gossip and jealousy in this village.
“This radio has caused nothing but problems, and all I want to do is help.”
My host “mother” was shocked to hear me yell at her.
“Take the radio,” she said, pouting.
I never wanted the radio in the first place. It was a gift from the electrical supply store in Maseru where I spent a lot of money on wiring, and a meter box for my school renovation project.
Normally stores give discounts when customers spend a fair bit of money, but this store decided to give me a “free” radio/CD player instead.
Exhausted from my awful bank incident, I was in no mood to argue for a preferred discount, so I took the radio, without realizing the consequences.
My co-teacher, the electricians and the contractor admired the radio, and I did not think twice about it until it caused a problem.
At first, my co-teacher said she wanted to listen to music in bed that evening.
“You already have a large radio and speakers, don’t you?” I asked.
“Yes, but I’m so tired, I just want to have it next to me so I don’t have to get up.”
I laughed, and mentioned I was curious if this radio had better reception than my tiny one.
“Why don’t you take it home,” she said. “I want to sleep.”
I tested the radio in my rondavel, and realized that the reception for BBC World radio was worse than on my small radio, and the new one took up half my table top, so I decided to take it to school.
My host mother saw me with it, and said she needed a radio. Her little one sounded crackly, and so I told her she could borrow it.
“I’ll buy it from you when you leave,” she said.
I did not respond, as I knew that she would hope expect me to give it to her as a “goodbye” gift.
When I reached school, my counterpart teacher asked, “Where is the radio?”
“I left it with Mary,” I said.
“It belongs to the school,” he replied.
“Actually it’s mine to decide what I do with it,” I replied crossing my arms over my chest.
“No, it’s for the school, not for Mary.”
Now I raised my voice and said, “Why should I bring the radio to school? So you can play your music? The holidays are coming and I promised Mary she could keep it until school starts again.”
I’ve become more assertive after one year of living in my village.
When I got home, I told Mary that the teachers wanted me to bring the radio to school, and that I would let her use it during the holidays, but I’d bring it to school after that.
“Those people want it for themselves,” she said.
“Mary, I don’t care. You told me everyone is jealous here, and now you’re acting the same.”
“Yes, everyone is jealous,” she said.
“Take the radio,” she said, frowning.
“I feel like digging a hole and burying it so no one gets it,” I said.
The following day, the young electrician asked me if I had a radio. I said, “No.”
Now I felt bad as the crew is working hard and they know I have the radio from the store. They want to play music while they work, and I hate to disappoint them.
This damn radio has caused so many problems. I hate it. Now I look like the bad guy.
I wish I’d received a discount on the materials. This would have avoided all the jealousy in my village.