セヴェリン/ Cévéline


Cévéline and I are getting closer. When she saw me first time, she distinguished me as "something different," as I did distinguish her from me as "someone poor." It seemed difficult to communicate with her. Maybe she thought the same. I didn't think we would ever get along. I don't remember exactly since when we came to start getting close. 



Kabore's couch, the couch that is facing to the TV, is considered to be the best seat (there are other little old couches too) in Kabore's living room. The first some days, she made me sit there and no other person except Kabore (he hires her to cook) had sat next to me. Even when there are too many people that some didn't get their seats, no one had sat next to me. Maybe they thought I was a temporary guest of Kabore from Europe who came to peek in at their life. But now, they wouldn't give me the best couch, and Cévéline would always sit next and hang on me.


Even the days Kabore isn't here, Cévéline cooks for Kabore's younger brother Salif and me (she and other kids will eat later anyway so she cooks a big amount of meal.) as there are always someone at house, though she tells me to eat, I didn't feel like eating alone in front of some supposedly hungry people. I had asked them to eat together, but they had refused my offers. They'd say, " in Africa, we eat in groups." Then I thought 'so I'm inviting you to eat with me.' But now I know that I misunderstood what they meant by "eat in groups." 


One day at noon, as I showed up there, she said "oh I didn't cook today." (I told her that she doesn't have to as Kabore was away.) And she asked me if I'd want to go to her family's. As I followed her I encountered her family and some other neighbors eating RIZ GRAS under some trees. They were 3to 8people in each group eating from one bowl with right hands. 


I put my right hand into the bowl. The meal was very hot (for my hand.) as I could only eat little by little, Cévéline brought me a spoon but I refused using it. Using a spoon there would almost be like using a knife to eat SUSHI, I thought. Since that day, Cévéline started to use the form "Tu" (not polite) instead of "Vous."(polite) 


Eating from a same bowl, is like a proof of a family. I felt I was accepted. And I guess I also accepted them. The meal was really delicious. And I was happy. 


In the beginning, people were laughing at me trying to say some words in Jula language. But now, they got used to me being like this or maybe they respect my decision of learning Jula, they don't laugh anymore, but instead, teach me Jula everyday. 


The next day at night as I went to Kabore's, Cévéline said "miyu wants to eat with everyone like an African, right?" And prepared a big bowl with rice and sauce. Everyone there, ate with me at Kabore's for the first time. And I remembered what they had been telling me "we eat in groups." To them, each person eating from each one's plate doesn't mean eating together. To them, it had to be this way; eating with right hands from one bowl. As I was having hard time eating, Cévéline started to take some food in her hand and pass it to me so that it's not too hot anymore. I felt her love. Very overprotected I was , but very happy.



That night I taught her English. She says I learn to speak Jula and she learns to speak English. There is a huge income gap between us. I don't know how many times in her life that she ate in a restaurant. She cannot afford to buy a backpack or school textbooks and says a pack of spaghetti that costs 30cents expensive. But I love her with no lies. A friend, I can call her. She knows I grew up watching TV so I am not very interested anymore. She knows I always had a washing machine so I don't know how to wash some big bed sheets properly with hands. She knows I lived in the states. She knows I'm probably leaving here after two years. And she knows even now as a volunteer, I do have a lot more money than her. Knowing all that, still, she respects my decision of learning Jula and being here. So, I'll try my best, too.