Finally, I heard women quarrelling in the next compound last night and it was a relief, seriously. I was beginning to wonder if I was living among humans after all. It was during my evening French class when I heard raised voices and shouting. At first I wasn’t sure if I was hearing correctly, but yes I was right; they were indeed quarrelling! Secretly, I screamed ‘Yeah, and about time too!’ I just looked at the professeur and smiled. Of course I couldn’t tell him why I was suddenly showing my ‘32’. He would have thought of me as ‘psycho’, wanting people to quarrel and all that. Well, who wouldn’t go ‘psycho’ in a town where people do not do ‘people’ things? Abeg!
ANYWAY…I just got back from L’Orphelinat and I had fun. I got there pretty earlier than usual (8.30am). I think I am going to stick to that time from now. It’s a 15 minute walk from la maison to l’orphelinat and leaving home that early means I won’t have to walk that distance under the scorching African sun. And it also means I get to walk back when the sun is just getting a little bit ‘revved up’, so before it starts getting too hot, I’ll be at home. Nice!
So as I was saying, the kids were surprised to see me that early. And after a while they were getting set to prepare lunch. These were the big kids; the little ones were in school. They were going to have a kind of maize (mais) dish for lunch. And I helped them select the maize, by removing the chaff andthe bad ones (by the way, the maize was dried). I shared a big tray with Asmarine a 12 year old girl. The other kids there were Prosper, Ulyrich, Emmanuelle, …While we were at it, they showed their English-speaking skills to me. I also learned a few French words from them like Legume amer (bitter leaf),huile de paume (palm oil), prendre (to take) Prosper was telling me he ‘took’ (scored) 18 in his English test because Emma had helped him. I congratulated him.
When I got home, Roukeya was already cleaning. She also sells fried fish which she fries in the kitchen. Today I decided to buy one of her fried fish. She cuts some and others are whole. The cut ones go for trois cent francs (300) and deux cent francs (200) respectively while the whole fish goes for quatre cent francs (400). I bought the whole fish. I intend to soak garri with it. ‘It av tay dat I drink garri, lol’. Needless to say, drinking the garri was fun (as always, except when it ‘rises’ faster and/or you cannot finish it).
The French teacher, Monsieur Christian Tamegnon (a very, very nice person), took me out this evening on his motorbike (called…). He took me around the town, past all those historic places. I’d gone to all those places before, but I didn’t tell him that because his intentions were well-meaning, and it is always a pleasure to visit those places. Then we went to a bar and he bought me the biggest bottle of Sprite I’ve seen. It felt so big and heavy when I lifted it, each time it felt like I was drinking beer. Not that I have anything against the drinking of beer though; it’s just not my thing: never has and never will, (just saying).
Anyway, this bar was very empty and the professeur said it’s because it wasn’t a weekend (it was a Thursday) and bars were usually full and noisy during the weekends. Wow, these people are something really. So how does the bar owner make his money, seriously, if from Monday to Thursday, there are a maximum of only 3 customers at a time? He might as well not open the bar, except on weekends. I told the professeur that where I’m from, people do not necessarily need to wait for the weekend before going to bars. I’m not trying to say that Nigerians drink a lot, although some guys spend quite a lot, (and I mean A LOT, on drinks) but that’s beside the point. The point I’m trying to make is that, Nigerians do not need to sit at home each evening, counting the days to the next Friday or Saturday or…I should have said ‘weekend’, but you know what I’m talking about, don’t you? They could go out on any day and have drinks with friends. I guess we are more fun-loving and let’s not forget that na-who-dey-alive-dey-spend-money slash all-die-na-die attitude of the Naija man. Oh and let’s not forget the ‘baba’ of them all: the wonderful I-don’t-care attitude, which we take too literally sometimes, it’s appalling.
So the professeur was telling moi about his love for his family (he’s married with two kids) and how he would like to be able to provide more for them. His mum is 59 and she still goes to the farm and it hurts him. If he could get a better job, perhaps in another country, he would gladly pack his bags and flee from Benin because teachers here are under-paid and unappreciated. Well, tell me about it; where in this world are they truly appreciated?After like 2 hours or so, we got back into town. A great portion of those 2 hours was spent by me thinking of the torture of finishing the giant bottle of ‘Sprite-beer’ because I didn’t want to offend him. I really appreciated his nice gesture; it was really sweet of him.