08 April 2012


Wow, I really don't update this blog very much these days. Blame Facebook. I've been meaning for the last couple days to write something. I've got a fun idea. I'm going to tell the story of my life in a way that is 100% true and entirely misleading. Kind of like that game Two Truths and a Lie, only no lies. That will have to wait though.

Because this evening a Burkinabe friend stopped by, and he said some things I need to make sure are documented for posterity. He's a young guy who used to be a guard at the Peace Corps transit house. He stops by occasionally to chit chat. A couple of times I've lent him my moto, and he's unreasonably grateful about it. So much so that I get embarrassed when he talks about it, and I don't get embarrassed easily*.

As I said, he stopped by this evening. Lucky he did, otherwise he'd have gotten caught in the rain** on his way home.

My friend started talking to me about his life growing up, a topic that had never really come up before. Turns out his mom had him when she was 16, so they were both kind of raised by HER mom, his grandma. He didn't really have a father figure. (The subtext of this conversation, by the way, goes back to how great I am for letting him borrow my bike. See? EMBARRASING.) Now here's where the story gets weird - when he was talking about not having a dad and what he never got that other kids did, he never ONCE mentioned love, or a helping hand, or pride, or anything like that. Nope! Apparently, what he missed out on (and seemed sincerely to regret missing) was someone to tell him when he was wrong, someone to tell him he was gonna get beat if he didn't straighten up.

That was not the weirdest part of the conversation. It got weirder. He started talking about people being kind to each other, and how you shouldn't be mean because if you are then the people you are mean to will be mean to others; same thing for being good to others. (This is STILL all him expressing gratitude. EM. BAR. RAS. SING.) Ok, I can dig all that. But then he busts out this proverb to express it (it's a Djoula proverb, if anyone's interested): "When the sorcerer eats a baby, he'll forget it as soon as it's time to go look for his next meal. But the baby's father*** won't ever forget."

What a weird conversation.

*Especially when the topic is me, and ESPECIALLY when the topic is how great I am.
**Rain! The third in a week! In April. This is too late for the mango rains, too soon for the real ones. I hope it means the season is very wet, but I'm worried it will be even more unpredictable, which is no good to anyone.
***He said the proverb a couple times, and he used the words "père" and "proprietaire" interchangeably. I can't help but think that word choice is pretty intimately tied to his views on fatherhood as implied by his earlier comments.

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