|Chadit and her dance troupe (Chadit in the center)|
|Idy's daughter and Chadit's son at the recital|
|Closeup of the beads and fabric|
My roommates left for Poland that night, and I was once again alone in the room. It felt strange, and I had trouble sleeping. The next day I packed my bags and waited for Abdou; we had lunch plans. He drove me out to his house, in a neighborhood where government officials lived. After spending two weeks in the rented house, it was strange to see such relative opulence; his was easily the largest and most ornate house I'd seen. He introduced me to his wife, son, daughter, and grandson. Abdou has four grown children, and two grandsons; about half of them live in the house with him. He kept his earbud on at all times; it seemed Abdou was always on the clock. He took a call while giving me a tour of the house, and wore the apparatus while we ate lunch. I misunderstood something that he said - he asked if I wanted to eat at the dining room table, or with "les gens." I understood this to mean "with the people." I wasn't quite sure what Abdou meant by this, and said that the dining room table was fine. Apart from the time I went to dinner with my cousin's friend Ndeye, it was the only meal in Senegal that I'd eaten at a table with silverware.
We discussed the Alliance Française, where Abdou had taught first my husband, and then me. He asked what my fellow classmates were up to: Kim is now married and has two young sons; Caroline is in graduate school; Carla is studying to become a medical coder. I mentioned my current teacher, Tim, who is American but speaks French like a native. I said that Tim was learning Swedish, to which Abdou replied: "really, maybe he wants to marry a Swedish woman." I almost choked. Tim shows up to class wearing Hermès shirts, frequently breaks into song during class (he heavily favors Céline Dion), and openly discusses his personal life with his students. To even the most casual observer it is clear that Tim does not want to marry any woman, Swedish or otherwise. I marveled - if that's the right word, at Abdou's absolute cultural blindness to what for me is a very obvious fact. Homosexuality is essentially not recognized in Senegal, and Abdou was unable to pick up on the fact that he had a gay colleague at the Alliance Française.
|In Abdou's courtyard - note that he is on the phone|