Field Notes, Tomfoolery

(Petits) Vignettes

Sometimes I like to go out on my porch and see how long it takes before a petit (then ten more) find me. (My record is 30 minutes.)

On this particular day I was attempting to read.

“Dumé?” One petit snatches the book.

“Hookam!” Another steals the book.

“Accu! Hookam!” An older petit takes the book. (There is a hierarchy amongst petits, usually based upon size.)

“Accu!” I take the book back (I am above the hierarchy) and show them the book.

“Images wala.” I present to them the sad fact that this particular book has no pictures, hoping they would lose interest.


(I’d forgotten about the picture of the author in the back.)

“Gorko am.” This excites them. They crowd around trying to see the picture of my husband.

“Noy indé maako?”

“Bruce.” I read the name of my fake husband off the book.


“Kay. Bruce!” I realize the two sound very similar.

“Madame, j’étais en brousse ce matin…”

<<  >>

“Madame! Laru!”

Housseina has a loose tooth.

“Ah nyi’e bebe don dilla, nyi’e manga don wara.”

“Ooho nyi’e bebe.” My neighbor agrees with me.

I decided at that point to explain to them the tooth fairy.

“So in the USA, when you lose a tooth, you put it under your pillow and a fairy comes and takes the tooth and gives you money.” (NOTE: This was explained in a mix of Fulfuldé and charades. Also my village has just started to accept all crazy things their nasara says.)

“Noy?” Houseina asks me.

“Cent cent franc” I reply.

She turns to her mother, “Mi yidi soodugo.”

Her mother laughs.


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