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Maybe I will get to see her again

I was going through my hard disk looking for a photo to post when this one grabbed my attention. It’s a bit blurry but I will post it anyway. I met her in London while visiting friends about 11 or 12 years ago. Her name was Sylvia Chant. She was a friendly woman who loved to laugh, tell jokes and share stories about her yearly jaunts to The Gambia. She enjoyed being there because of the beautiful scenery and equally beautiful people. “If you ever get a chance I highly recommend that you go. I am sure you will love it.” She said. I think she owned a house there. Her London house was near Finsbury park. It had a really nice garden that felt like an oasis in that part of town. She invited me over to dinner. Her husband was a quiet man by comparison who laughed about the fact that he knew not to interrupt Sylvia when she was talking which was something she really loved to do…talk and collect hats. When she heard my friend Kanna was going to a wedding, she insisted on lending her a hat from her collection. Those fancy brimmed hats must have been fashioned for British heads because they made Kanna look ridiculous. We humored Sylvia as she talked up her hats but when she left to get more of them, her husband whispered to Kanna in a stage voice “It’s ok if you forget to take the hat with you when you leave.” We all laughed. Eventually, everyone had so much wine that nobody remembered the hats were there, not even Sylvia.

Sylvia was such a down to earth person that it completely took me by surprise to learn that she was a professor at the London School of Economics and somewhat famous in her field. She authored a massive tome called “The International Handbook of Gender and Poverty”. Given her love of talking, it was no surprise that the book was a whopping 733 pages long. Sylvia was the perfect example of how flawed it is to judge someone by the way they look. Her tanned skin and bright blonde hair made her look like someone who loves to party. In truth she was the cleverest person in the room. Despite her high status and notoriety she always came across as humble and welcoming. Unfortunately, pancreatic cancer took her away from us too soon. She passed away in 2019. I had always imagined myself going back to London to visit her. It’s funny how time slips away from us until it has all been used up. Wherever she is now. I am sure she is having fun. Maybe I will get to see her again.


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