A kindergarten student on the floor and working hard on her drawing.

A kindergarten student on the floor and working hard on her drawing.

When I moved to the village, I was given a “place name” which is a local or tribal name. In my case, my name was selected by the village chief (a young woman in her mid 30s and a widow of the former chief) and my name, Mahlako, is after her mother-in-law, the previous village queen.

It has taken a while to get used to being called Mahlako (mah-slah-ko). Wherever I go around the village, people (old and young) say my name as I pass.

The kids who stay after school to draw and color have taken to drawing pictures of me. It’s rather flattering that they would think and want to do so as it is not something I have suggested. They are quite proud of their drawings and they present them to me rather ceremoniously. For note, they also like to draw traffic lights (the closest one is likely 80 miles away), and are equally proud of those drawings. It’s nice to know that I rank right up there with traffic lights as a subject to be drawn.

I’m not really sure what to make of some of the drawings. I’ve never worn pigtails, nor a strapless top in the village, let alone to work. In fact, none of the hair styles or outfits show any resemblance to what I wear. But that’s okay. As long as they don’t draw me with a big stick and looking mean, they can dress me up however they wish.

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