I don’t know what’s happening. I’ve lost the creative juice or the energy or maybe it’s just that “la force” leaves my body due to the heat. Either way, I haven’t written. My parents have suggested I describe a typical day. Each day of the week has a different typical nature to it. Monday has its long work day, Tuesday has it tutoring sessions at night, Wednesday has the glorious market, Thursday’s another long work day and then Friday is left for house chores and an occasional visit to the mosque with Latifa. Saturday is free for baking with Latifa or my favorite mama and Sunday has the best snacks available after mass/ running.
Monday: The first thing I hear is women sweeping their concessions in the dark. Sweeping up remnants from dinner the previous night, the children’s wrappers or toys (read: cans, lids, sticks, bottles, etc.), and animal droppings. Then, the “swoosh” of the sweeping is broken by Mubarack, the stout three year old with the most cheery grin, babbling to his mother as she sweeps. This is soon followed by the scrape of my neighbor Malik’s door opening against the concrete porch that we share. It’s time to get up. I scramble out of my mosquito net and open my back door.
Next, I assess the dish pile. Can I make oatmeal, or are my two pots already dirty? Is a frying pan clean…maybe I’ll make cornmeal pancakes instead? Is there even any food in my house to prepare, or should I buy rice and beans from the mama outside? Usually the answer is doing dishes early in the morning. Oy. When I finally enter my kitchen, Malik, the high school sophomore greets me with “Bonjour Madame” accented with sleep.
I usually make a cup of tea, oatmeal, or gari/sugar/peanuts and sit outside and take in the cool morning air as I stare at the swaying moringa trees. THEN, I gotta get all jazzed up for school with some snazzy earrings (if I don’t wear earrings, people remark “c’est pas bon” haha). I carry a woven plastic beach bag to school filled with lesson plans, drawings of vocabulary words, chalk, duster, and occasionally candy for the students. It’s a very practical bag, but I’ve been told only old market mamas use this style of bag. All the same, I figure that I’m already weird, so I’m embracing the “old market mama” part of my identity.
On Mondays and Thursdays I teach 8-12 and 3-5. During that 3 hour pause I usually eat peanuts and nap. When I finish class at 5 I sit for a bit with a lady who speaks broken English. She sells peanuts and gari (dried cassava) and occasionally frozen bissap (hibiscus) and baobab juice. Recently, an avocado and fish sandwich lady has joined the posse. We sit under the shade of a tree catching the breeze, watching women and children use the foot pump to fill their HUGE basins of water in the middle of the school yard. We generally practice a bit of Idaasha for me and some English for them. On Thursday, I ritualistically proclaim, “I’m a FREE woman.” No class for me on Friday! Free! Free!
After I’ve chilled for a bit, on Thursdays I stop by the Akoridji house to greet, sit, and chat. There’s this one woman, Hortense, who speaks broken French, which we combine with my broken Idaasha. Despite the not-so-eloquent blending of our languages, we always have a blast together and spend the majority of the time cracking up. Later, I head home and see a pack of kids playing empty plastic bottles as drums and dancing in the concession yard. Madame Mariam is usually sitting outside her boutique and starting to prepare dinner for her two children. Next is my own dinner preparation (I eat lots of rice…and btw, onions here are SUPER pungent so I end up teary eyed) and bucket bath time. Then I lie outside and read until bedtime. Unless there’s tutoring or I need to review or create vocabulary drawings for my classes the next day.
A full day is a happy day, ko?