dirty shower, new born babies, and ski magazines


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Africa » Niger » Niamey
February 17th 2006
Published: February 23rd 2006
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2-17-06
it’s hard to feel clean in a shower that earlier today was streaming out rawhide colored niger dirt water. The pipes behind the CFCA are being changed and so our pipes were full of the sandy water until they turned off the water entirely when me and yussef came back from his mom’s house. We peaked our heads over the fence to see how the progress was going and a guy right near the wall, a supervisor type, asked if they were making two much noise as a round saw in the hole drowned out his words. We denied politely. “But,” I said, “the water’s dirty in the house,” in french. He couldn’t hear me because of the welder that had just jumped in the hole, screeching away on the pipe. “You don’t speak French good,” was his contribution, in English. Oh god...
The new born at yussef’s house has a head of hair like no other. It’s not stiff and coarse, it’s silky and bountiful on her head. The mom had a burst capillary in her eye, I wonder if it’s from pushing too hard. The baby was curled up on the couch and I came over to admire and coo, in zarma. The mother was putting perfume on her, from a pineapple flavored food flavoring bottle, I don’t know if it was the same scent or a borrowed bottle. You can see her blackness setting in. Her hands are still light, her little ears are very dark, she was very wrinkly. And of course since there was a newborn, there were lots of other mothers and babies visiting. One little girl toddling around with such purpose, plunking down on a little stool and almost tipping off, slurping out of a yellow bowl of water.
I brought a ski magazine, loving the looking at things times. Five year old Soulai had a story to tell me on every page of the magazine. Most of the time I understood single words, touryan, trees, tondo, mountains, boro, person, tira, book. But most of the time I would just nod into his wide eyes as if I understood him. When yussef was in there he translated for me; one of the pictures was a guy with a big knife who was going to cut down the trees, the knife was a ski. On a funny but official looking poster in an add with glen plake with his huge mohawk, soulai pointed at it saying, “Koran!” he thought jibbers doing jumps and iron crosses were helicopters. I didn’t even try to explain snow, just said "la glace" a couple of times. the only ice he knows is what gets frozen in the freezer, most likely the frozen water in a bag that people sell that slides into metal bowls of water, keeping the form of the bag, round top with baggie corners. How do i even start to explain snow in all it's complexities? in zarma? wow, that's quite the unattainable story to convey. but Soulai is tickled none-the-less and now expects magazines everytime i come.


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23rd February 2006

Back chez vous
Hi Lil, Sweet domestic scenes described. I had similar situations in Senegal with folks, trying to describe mountains and snow. Tim

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