«Bonjour Madame – comment ça va?»
«Ça va bien merci Teegan, et toi?»
«Ça va, ça va.»
«As-tu apportes tes livres de poésie?»
I attended French lessons almost every Saturday last year, (my wonderful school could not offer lessons themselves.) I was accompanied by three other lovely “filles” once every second week – they had also been exempted from learning Afrikaans. [South African education law: if a student has been out of the country for 5 years or more, the student is classed as a foreigner. Thus, the student may be excused from learning the country’s national language.] Frankly, I did not mind at, I had been studying French my entire schooling career.
The Saturdays with the rest of the girls had become a social event for me. We chatted (in English) about: school life, personal events and even current affairs. We had our laughs too. I remember we were finishing up a lesson and one of us asked, “Where’s the city of love?”
“Spain is not a city,” Madame retorted.
I burst out laughing.
I have to admit – every second Saturday stayed as my favourite times. I had the privilege to obtain a one-on-one with my teacher (I know some students dread such a situation but I honestly enjoyed them). It was these lessons where we would indulge ourselves in the masterpieces of Charles Baudelaire, Victor Hugo, Boris Vian and Jean de La Fontaine – Well, I found them to be magnificent pieces of poetry.
Madame would recite the poem fully in its written form; she was never monotonous or unenthusiastic, which I had come to appreciate. She would then dissect each line, translating them to English, explain and discuss the possible angles of their true meanings. Poetry, like most arts and all things beautiful, always has space for interpretation. After all, what one interprets in life shows a true image of one’s self.
I never experienced discontent with my literature lessons. I’ve always had an unhealthy fetish for poetry, so imagine a hopeless poetry fan engaging in poetry of a different language? – With green tea and pumpkin cake on offer too.
Madame was an excellent teacher and I am truly grateful for her assistance, because in the end I did well in my French final exam. But I think I am more thankful for her rekindling a passion for the language I had thought I had lost.
«allons cueille cueille
les roses les roses
roses de la vie» – Si tu t’imagines, Raymond Queneau (1903-1976)
“go pick pick
the roses the rose
roses of life”