My Near-Death Experience in Namibia
I was borne into this land of sand and goats on 27 October 2002. Shortly after I had celebrated my first birthday, I had a traumatic near-death experience. I had known from the beginning that my time here was limited; they had told us that the maximum life expectancy of a Volunteer was only 2.2 years. I was aware my life here was transitory, a blink of Vishnu’s eye, only a preparation for my next incarnation, a karmatic debt from my previous life-but knowing this did not prepare me for a premature death. I had not heeded the teachings of the Buddha, I had become attached to my life here. And so I suffered, because I desired to do more.
While I hung in limbo, hovering in the sick bay tunnel, with an obnoxious bright white light at one end and a lot of sand and marking at the other, I waited for doctors and lawyers and insurance companies to decide my fate. I heard harsh voices saying words like multiple dislocations, non-disclosure, admin sep, early termination, reconstructive surgery, medical separation… and my life flashed before my eyes.
I saw clearly what I had done and not done. I had started an AIDS club, but I had not established a reliable counterpart or infrastructure to ensure sustainability. I had started a palaver club, but I had not even gotten permission from the principal and so it remained an underground establishment where renegades met to ask the question, “Why is life like this?” I had taught a few teachers and learners how to use a computer, but I had not done anything with the library. I had taught my learners to shorten the greeting in their letters to just two lines, but I had not been able to teach them the correct spellings of “hallow” (hello) “hai” (hi) and “great” (greet). I had taught my learners important vocabulary words such as justification, free will, optimism, and pessimism, but I had not successfully taught them the difference between a verb and a noun. I had taught my 11th graders the two books required for the HIGCSE examination, but I had not taught them how to write a summary in their own words without just making up their own ideas as well. I had taught for nearly a year, but I had not taught them everything they needed to know.
I pleaded with the angel, Clara, and tried to explain that they couldn’t abort me in the 3rd trimester. I’d done so much, I hadn’t done enough. But they didn’t care. That wasn’t the issue. And so I filed my defense and waited for the judgment to come down from the desk on high. And waited.
Meanwhile the little green melfoquin man sang a taunting song:
Two years is short
And I’m still waiting-neither here nor there and wondering if “here” will soon be there, and “there” will soon be here, and when the Dr. Suessian madness will end.