Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cups and Kettles

Diabou is now the second-youngest kid on my compound. She’s taciturn, obstinate, and small for her age. She doesn't like new people and refused to acknowledged my existence for my first three months at site. She has a big head and little arms and thick, slightly bowed legs, like a tyrannosaurus. She understands things just fine, but frequently pretends to have not heard when people tell her what to do, and she doesn't speak very often. When she does talk, it’s in this raspy, high-pitched little mouse voice, like a gravel-filled squeaky toy come to life.

Obviously, she is my favorite.

After the initial cold shoulder she warmed to me, and now we're friends. She sits on my feet when I'm trying to read, delivers little piles of mango leaves to my doorstep, brings me her peanuts to shell because she knows I don't like raw peanuts and will not keep a portion for myself.

She calls me “Ada” and she's taken to padding into my hut in the early mornings to perch silently on the corner of my bed and watch me boil water, attempt to sent texts, organize the junk on my table, whatever I happen to be doing. Sometimes after lunch I'll let her come in and play around, like this:

She spent about thirty minutes pouring water back and forth, seeing how high she could lift the pouring cup and swishing things around. She spilled a lot, but nothing disappears faster than water off a cement floor in hot season, so I didn't mind. Also, it was kind of mesmerizing, like a Rube Goldberg contraption.

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