“Women make the best beekeepers, because they have a special ability built into them to love creatures that sting. It comes from years of loving children and husbands,”
— The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
Expect the unexpected when a group of about 45 women get together.
This proved to be the case on March 22 at the launch of The Ambassador’s Book Club, an initiative by Ambassador Michele Thoren Bond, head of the US Embassy in Lesotho.
This event was in commemoration of Women’s History Month, a United States campaign which runs throughout the month of March (www.womenshistorymonth.gov).
It pays tribute to generations of women who made a difference to society and also incorporates March 8, International Women’s Day.
Prior to the meeting, we had each received a copy of The Secret Life of Bees a bestseller by Sue Monk Kidd which was made into a movie starring Queen Latifah and Jennifer Hudson.
The choice of book was perfect.
In a nutshell, it tells the story of Lily, whose life revolves around the memory of the day her mother was killed.
At 14 she runs away from home together with their maid, Rosaleen.
The book deals with the difficult relationship Lily has with her father and the lives of the women who were to change her life forever.
It was an emotion-filled afternoon.
In the process of exploring the book’s themes and characters, some women shared their personal and heart-breaking experiences.
The following were some of the salient points made:
Let go of the past — One of the participants, brought up this point based on June, a character in the book.
June kept alive the memory of a failed relationship and she was failing to move on even when she had met someone who really loved her.
The reader noted that women tend to fall into this trap of holding onto the past and obsessing over someone who has moved on with their life.
This often leads to women missing opportunities when they present themselves later in life.
Change your situation — In her opening remarks, Ambassador Bond mentioned that the book sends a message which says to women facing difficulties, “you do not have to stay in a situation just because you are in it’.
A young woman from the university echoed this point as she recalled the moment Lily decides to leave.
Lily didn’t wait for any special day when she had saved enough money or was older and wiser, she just responded to an inner voice which told her this was her moment to leave.
I must mention here that the group of young women from NUL proved to be energetic, refreshing and at times unsettling for us older women.
Prior to the book discussion, the theatre and drama class of seven students gave a no holds barred performance which explored issues affecting young women today.
The focal point was the relationship mothers have with their daughters.
“You gave me life but you cannot live it for me,” was one of many nuggets.
During the discussion, the young women urged mothers to communicate with their daughters and not to just l–ecture.
They felt that mothers should share their experiences when they were girls especially with regard to boys and relationships.
The students felt this would encourage daughters to open up too.
Redefine family — The definition of family as being only those people one has a blood connection to was discarded by the author of this book.
Lily failed to find love and happiness within her biological family but she later discovered it in the most unlikely place.
It was noted that in many cases, instead of being a safe haven, the modern day family has turned out to be a dangerous place for vulnerable women and girls.
Poignant memories from some of the women added weight to this sad fact.
The afternoon ended all too quickly.
Women continued to have animated discussions over pizza and drinks, with some exchanging details with new found contacts.
That may have been the end of the book club meeting but I got the feeling every woman there took away something special.