Below is an excerpt from Uneven Bars...
I place her picture on the easel. As I return to my spot, John Whittington switches on the record player wired into a huge amp and the song Unomathemba booms out.
At first, we all stand stock still, listening to Leslie's song, eyes downcast. Then an enchanted moment unfolds: one of my students--Big Frank, Frank McField, takes my right hand at the same time as Marivel takes my left one, and they begin swaying to the music. We sway in sync. More and more people join hands. The swaying becomes rhythmic, the feet move: step-close-step-close, while more and more classes empty into the yard to join in. By the triumphant end of the song, the entire school population is holding hands and dancing side by side as we play it a second time. Well over a thousand bodies are crammed into the quad, moving rhythmically and smiling at each other. Magic. I am sure I see a Mona Lisa smile pass over Leslie's lips. Leslie loves this. I feel her love in the students' upturned faces.
A spontaneous burst of applause erupts, for Leslie. Everyone turns to their neighbour, exchanging hugs, crying with free-flowing tears. I don't see Greg, but don’t really look for him, in case I do see him. I would run to him at that moment. Rather, I take Jeff's hand. In that act I declare myself his.
Everyone stays standing--there aren't enough chairs anyway--for the Head's eulogy, which is a fair one, given how little he knows Leslie and how often she caused him administrative grief. He avoids mentioning how he often spoke to her for swearing in class and for being late: a bad example to the students. He now extols her inventive lesson plans, as if he actually had some idea about them instead of just repeating other’s praise of her which he heard at cocktail parties. He finishes with asking us to bow our heads for one minute. He dismisses us by simply walking off the cistern.
Just as the crowd begins to disperse, I follow an impulse and leap onto the cistern beside Leslie's picture and, in stage projection voice, I call, "Hold on. Hold it! Stop! Please! Thank you." John Whittington hands me the mike. "Thank you. I just want to say that Miz Milton loved this island, but more than that, she loved the children of this island. You! She loved you!"
A huge cheer! They loved her. They loved Leslie. I knew that and now everyone does. We have all lost someone we loved.
It is so painful, I don't know how I live through it.