Thursday, October 30, 2008

Best friend

Another bio:

I'd say that Fatchi is my best girlfriend in the village, the person whom I feel understands me the best, and with whom I feel really comfortable and natural. She's probably in her 50s, and lives with her husband and kids in a hut way out on the edge of town. I probably wouldn't have ever met her---or at least wouldn't have realized how amazing she is--if I hadn't made myself go out to her far-away hut during my first month. At the time I was determined to push myself and greet as many people as I could. It really paid off: I met Fatchi! From the beginning I felt really good around her; she has this great humor about her, and no matter what you say (no matter how unintelligible your Hausa is) she does her best to understand and make you feel spectacular. As soon as I step into her concession, she shouts out my name with a laugh, like it's the most wonderful, surprising, unlikely thing that I am here. And what I realized sets her apart from most other women is that she is bursting with questions and curiosity about the USA. Other women are definitely curious, but I think that perhaps they don't know where or how to start asking, and they don't want to reveal how little they know or don't know of the differences between here and there. ( And I recognize similarities in myself and other Americans: where do you even begin to start asking questions about the unknown? It's hard!) Fatchi, however, always has something to ask or say. I go over there every other day and usually hang out for an hour, sometimes two. It is always a laughter-filled time, with both of us discovering lots about each other.

Off the top of my head I can recall conversations with Fatchi about: washing machines, bridal showers, obesity, post offices, and of course millet, hunger, cows, marriage, and giving birth (popular topics among village women.) One question Fatchi asks me is "Samsiye, kasanku, da gaskiya baku sha hura?" "Samsiye, in your country, is it really true that you don't drink hura?" (Hura is the millet and milk drink, a staple food, kind of like bread in the states, but more central. Every meal, least in the village.) It's basically impossible to imagine a country surviving without hura. Another question that we've talked about a lot--and man, does it blow me away, and her, too, how different this is--is the question of how women give birth here vs. the US. Here, the women give birth alone, inside their huts, in total silence. No doctor, no family, no one--and no drugs, and absolutely no yelling. I can hardly believe it, but I know it is true. And she can hardly believe that many (most, right?) women in the US give birth in a hospital, with at least a doctor present, and often family, plus their husbands ( no way that would fly here), and they sometimes even yell.
Obviously Fatchi and I have a lot to learn from each other.

No comments: