Cameras clicking, chairs scraping against the kitchen floor, mumbling in pairs and small awkward laughs filled the room while we were getting ready. The sun shining in through the dirty window, our improvised spotlight. The preparations had been short and concise. The director’s idea had earned instant support and the group immediately started working. Ideas were thrown to all sides, some were caught and used, others were discarded and lost. Single mothers were the subject and our character was Sarah the cleaning lady. She had agreed to the interview and were now seated in a chair facing the sunlight for the camera’s sake. Slightly uncomfortable she sat waiting while we got the last things settled. I were the interviewer and I sat down beside her. The camera started rolling. My tong were unwilling to fully obey the English language in this even for me exposed position. The smell of sweat and dust lingered in the room. After asking the basic questions I could get to the point of the interview; her marriage and the life afterwards. What had happened?
Her mother had been unable to pay for her education after the father’s death and Sarah shortly after married in 2009 because of a pregnancy. She had known the man for two years before the marriage and the two years following were good and caring while their little daughter grew. Sarah looked distantly out the window as to recall the events, her arms crossed on the brown hardwood table. The sound of the camera breaking the silence. The harmony had shattered when Sarah’s husband started drinking increasingly and came home angry and abusive. The fights got worse and worse. The camera had gone silent. She lost a child due to stress and tried getting help from the police and the elder men in the community. She was in despair. Couldn’t they turn her husband back to her? No, they could not. She continued working for the relationship and to provide for the whole family, as her husband had resigned his job. You could hear the resentment in her voice. The rumors of how bad and abusive a wife Sarah was spread through the community. She took a loan in the bank, so her husband could start a business. He fled with the money and Sarah got a divorce. Now she lives with her 8 years old girl and her 3 years old son who survived the turbulent start on life. They are happy and Sarah feels strong and independent again. She doesn’t care how the others see her. She knows she has done right by her children who are everything to her.
Throughout Sarah’s story the whole room had gone silent, all completely absorbed in her words, her voice, her emotions. I barely asked any questions. She answered them without me asking. I was still living the story after it ended. The room slowly awakened after the hypnotic experience. The birds chirping and the rustling noises of people going about their things came in to focus again but then not really.