Monday, February 9, 2009

They're Back

Well, the girls came back. On Saturday. With another friend. Our guard chased them away. Not being aware of the fact that they had spoken with me the previous week, he first told them that they must be mistaken, that the person they were looking for lived somewhere else in the neighbourhood. When they persisted, he began chasing them off. I came out when I heard the noise.

After I’d calmed the guard down and explained who the girls were, he went back inside the courtyard and I sat down outside the gate to talk with them. The girls pleaded to be allowed into the courtyard, but I refused. Not only was this our private space, but I didn’t want to start something that would be difficult to stop later or that could lead to suspicions or accusations of inappropriate behaviour on our part. Better to keep everything out in public view.

Of course, this wasn’t something that these kids would understand. So I just told them that we had nasty neighbours :)

On Sunday afternoon, two of the girls dropped by again. There was no guard to chase them away this time, and I was sitting on the upstairs balcony, so I saw them coming. They’d bought some monkey bread at the market and came by to share some with me before going merrily on their way.

The reaction of passersby is interesting. Some seem surprised to see me sitting outside the gate talking to a couple of kids. Most smile and say hello in passing. A few tell the girls to go away and not bother me. Still others, mostly other children, are emboldened enough to approach me themselves and shake my hand to say hello.

I find it interesting that the only adults that ever come to knock on our gate are those asking for money, or those wanting to sell us something (I guess they’re asking for money too, but at least they’re offering us something for it :) No one comes to say hello or to pass the time of day. Except children. The people of Burkina are traditionally very social, so I find this social reticence a little strange. But maybe there’s something going on here that I haven’t figured out yet…

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