Tuesday, January 25, 2011


One of the things I struggled most with at the beginning of service was independence. Constantly having to tell my host mom and sisters where I was going seemed like a giant intrusion of my privacy, an annoying last step before leaving for anything, and a step backward in my journey to being a self reliant human being. Not to mention I had just completed four years of college where I really didn't have to answer to anyone. I could stay up late or go to bed early and no one would ask questions. I could slip out unnoticed. I could subsist on cheese and bread from Zingerman's if I wanted (and I did). I didn't have to explain that all I wanted for dinner was an apple because if I put anymore onion sauce within a ten foot radius of my body I might just lose it. Oddly, this is one of the things that I've truly been able to accept as my service has progressed.

Now, I quickly tell someone where I'm going and then run away before we can have a conversation about it. I know, real mature. Independence has been something that I've thought a lot about in regards to my host siblings. In my house I'm the youngest "adult." I'm defining adult as someone who has finished formal schooling/ high school. Big Ahmed is still in high school so I can understand the restrictions placed on him and mom wanting to know his whereabouts. Mami, Khady, Baye, and Cheikh are all older than me and all living at home and since the house is a full house everyone is starting to chafe.

I noticed that Cheikh was struggling a while ago. He lived in Europe for four years with all of the fabulousness that that entails and is now back in Senegal living with his mom and dad. I feel for him, I really do. Baye is married although hasn't been living with his wife for the past two months (and no I still have no idea about Cheikh's wife) and has instead been sulking around our house. Khady is also married and has Ahmed. Mami is Mami and does her own thing. Mami is the youngest and she just turned 28. When Cheikh first got back he would straight up tell my mom he was annoyed and he was doing this or that and he didn't care what she thought. You can imagine how well this went over. Today it was Baye's and Khady's turn.

After an extremely long day of helping a woman who works for a local NGO make some artisan contacts, I came home to my family at its greatest: a full on screaming match. Baye had gotten some sort of ticket from the police concerning the car he sometimes drives as a chauffeur. My mom was more than unhappy. He was demanding money from her to pay it. Yeah, that wasn't happening. He then tried to leave mid screaming match and my mom stood in front of the compound door to block him. It was epic and no one noticed/ cared that I was standing there listening. The entire family was involved in this brawl and it was highly entertaining.

This evening Khady was all dressed up and had some friends over when they decided to go into town and hang out at a restaurant. My mom was livid. She didn't want Khady to eat out or go out and she most likely didn't want to have to put Ahmed to bed herself. These two instances were really the first time that there's been open tension over personal independence. It was a very entertaining evening to observe.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhhhhhhh I don't think I will respond to this psychological drama.