Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Family Tree

This is my attempt to explain my family Lam. But I must say that it is a very US-centric notion to even think that you can explain the relationships to people. Most times when I try to ask people how they are related you either get “he/she is my brother/sister” or “they are my cousins.” It just doesn’t really matter. Family is family. Neighbors are family. At least these are the people that regularly sleep at my house. There are always various additions and often I’ll notice them in the morning.
Here goes:
Baabaa = dad, but he’s super old and retired so I’m pretty sure he’s not actually the dad of a lot of the younger kids
Yaaye = mom, again. Old, probably not the mom of most of the kids.
Binta Jigo = sister-in-law. This I’m sure of. She is married to my brother (whose name I forget) who lives in Dakar who I have yet to meet.
Papa = 1 year old baby boy. Binta Jigo’s son.
Binta = other sister. 17 maybe?
Faamaa = another sister 15 maybe?
Mariata = another sister (my favorite. The ‘namesake’ of my sister at home J maybe 18?
Mamadou Thidiane = 18 year old brother. Actually, the son of my counterpart who is also my sister but lives down the road at her husband’s house. He is sy-sy (player) and always jokes with me that I’m his fiancee. Luckily it’s unheard of for an older women to date a younger man, so I love joking with him that he’s just a kid and too young for me.
Oumar = 13 year old brother. Speaks awesome French. Should be a gymnast. In the states with some training he absolutely could be. But there is no outlet for that here so he just climbs everything and does handstands and backbends and flips all day long in the compound.
Samba=7 year old brother. A cutie. Pretty shy. Doesn’t get into much trouble.
Hapsatou=10 year old sister. A sweetie pie. Also doesn’t get into much trouble.
Nene Bol and Nene Lam = 2 sisters. The littlest ones. Probably both about four. The highlights of my life. Total sassy little things, and exhausting, but also the most lovable and willing to come running full speed into my arms when I come home even though it’s 125 degrees outside.
Acha = a 10 year old who does the vast majority of the washing of dishes and the clothes. She is actually from a neighboring village, but her mother died so Yaaye and Baabaa took her in recently in the past 7 months or so. She has a lot of spunk, but is always the first to hit the other kids. Understandably so. She also has never been to school because she is over the age of 10 and so can’t be admitted this late. I try to shower her with kindness, but it’s so hard when she is so rough on the other kids. Yaaye has threatened repeatedly to send her back to her village, but baabaa always resists.
Other characters whose relationships I haven’t quite figured out yet:
Koran guy: he’s around a lot and sits and recites the Koraan all day. Literally.
A couple of other sisters (names???) who live at their husbands houses but who come around pretty often with their kids.
A brother and his family that live in France. (name?)

This is in no way a complete list, but it will do for now. I bet you’re just as confused as I am!

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