Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day Ten Sierra Leone: Who's Your Daddy?


Today I wake up with an extreme case of diarrhea. I go to the bathroom like five times in the span of thirty minutes. I'm praying it's not dysentery.

Linds and I are doing some covert spying. There are several children living in the house with us and we are trying to figure out if any belong to my father. It's highly possible considering we had to pry to find out about his second wife. It's also suspicious because  everybody has been introduced with an explanation except the kids.

We've done some narrowing down. It can't be Tolo because he's the servant and is almost a grown man. It can't be Fatmata because she's almost a grown woman and has been introduced as Aunt Sallay's daughter, "his adopted daughter". For a little while, we considered Yebu, this sweet dark-skinned seven year old (who by the way came up to Lindsay, pointed to me, and said, "He's your husband in the States. He's my husband over here.") but pops introduced her as Aunt Sallay's granddaughter and her real name is Salamatu Yebu Carew like her grandmother.

Which leaves Kemoh. He doesn't look terribly like my father, but he's dark skinned and about like nine years old. My pops took a while to introduce him and didn't say anything about his parents. He did say that his name means "old man" in Mandingo, and is often given to a child who bears the name of his father. But who is the old man?

This stay has been great, but it has also been very irritating. I remember how controlling my pops can be. He has all but co-opted my camera phone, asking me to take it out whenever he wants to take pictures. He is dragging us all around town bringing us to events and to relatives' homes. For the last two days, we've left his house in the early afternoon and didn't come back until after nine. We are tired. We are drained. It doesn't feel like a vacation. It feels like a stressful homecoming. On top of that, there's an agenda. My pops wants to show everyone here that he has things under control in America. That he's on good terms with his family abroad. That's not true. While I, as the eldest, am tolerant of my father, Abdul and Seree, my younger siblings don't speak to him, don't answer his calls. This is a charade.

We visit my grandmother's house in Tengbeh Town and my Aunty Sanaa. Apparently she raised my mother and all my uncles and aunts. "You mama, you uncle dem, all suck this one boby," she tell us. (Your mother and your uncles all sucked from this one breast.) She pleads with me to coax my mother to resume sending her money. "Whatever I did, tell her I'm sorry," she says. Later on my mom tells me she stopped sending Aunty Sanaa money because she drinks.

At night, my cousin Aminata surprises Lindsay with a full African dress. It's purple and has everything, the head wrap, the shirt, the lappa (skirt), shoes, and a purse.  Linds looks stunning in it. But my dad messes it up. "Good," he says. "Tomorrow you will wear that at an Islamic event."

No input from us.

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