Saying Bye to Naluyele

One of the joys of visiting a Lubuto Library often is seeing familiar faces. The experience is enhanced by interacting with people you’ve seen around but never really got the chance to talk to. Under normal circumstances, this should be a happy experience but my meeting Naluyele for the first time actually had the opposite effect. It made me quite sad.

Naluyele, left, with her good friend Chilala, right.
Naluyele, left, with her good friend Chilala, right.

Naluyele is, I estimate, around twelve or thirteen years old. I had seen her before in a number of LubutoDrama performances. There was something about her eyes which was captivating. It is these same eyes that I can’t get out of my head now and perhaps for a very long time to come. They were wide and glassy when she approached me to say bye.

“I am leaving to go to the village, “she said, “and I just wanted to say bye before I go.”

This news took me aback. “Wait. Why are you leaving and where are you going? Most importantly will you be coming back?” I asked.

There was something about the way she spoke that day which prompted me to ask such interrogative questions.

“My grandmother has summoned me to the village in the Copperbelt and I don’t think I will be coming back.” Naluyele responded.

Pulling her aside from the other children, I asked if there was anything I could do or that the library could do or anybody at all to help her. Of course she said no. “I am leaving tomorrow.” She replied.

The girl didn’t seem to know why she was going back to the village or what she was going to do there. I sensed that she did not want to leave but had to nonetheless because the grandmother had summoned her. I imagine the grandmother must be the matriarch of her family.

Naluyele was enrolled at the Fountain of Hope Community School and her departure meant that she may no longer continue with her education. Nobody knows.

I had to share this story although it makes me sad not knowing exactly where Naluyele went or what she is doing in the village now. I am writing about Naluyele because she is a girl who loved to use the library to simply enjoy a story. She actively participated in the Lubuto Library Programs and made friends with the other children and staff as well.

Her last drama performance was in a play based on a book written by Angela Shelf Medearis titled The Singing Man.

We hope to see Naluyele again. This time bright-eyed and happy when she reunites with Lubuto Library one day.