Literally 'not hear'. Also, 'not understand'. A go-to phrase for me in village. Sometimes I think my language is improving, other times it's not. Recent my cluster monitor told me it hasn't because of my sister, Nyima who always helps me by translating. She moves to Kombo soon for senior secondary school. I think I'll be just as lost language wise. And I'll be bored a lot more often. But enough about language, that will be a constant strugggle. I wrote this post to tell two random, kind of funny stories, about not hearing, listening or understanding.
ONE: It was the last week of school, so nothing was happening-learning wise. We were preparing for an awards ceremony so the students were out and about and there were chairs out all over the school grounds. I was sitting, waiting for things to begin but got antsy. I got up (left my waterbottle behind) to go and try to find something to do... When I came back to the spot, I found my host brother Buba (grade 5, about 11) fighting with another boy. They were shouting a stream of words I did not understand and two I did: 'bottle' and 'drink'. The other student was shouting at me that Buba had drank my water, all the meanwhile they were fighting each other. Being scrawny 11 year old boys, I was able to pull them apart and bring them to the head master's office. I told the head teacher that I thought they were fighting over my water but wasn't sure exactly what happened. He got the full story out of them in Mandinka. In the end, they were both trying to make sure my bottle was not taken or abused in any way. Fighting each other to look out for me. I'll try not to leave my bottle around anymore. Thankfully, my headmaster is great and simply talked to them about how that wasn't a reason to be fighting.
The next story requires knowledge of my least favorite Gambian habit: hissing to get attention. Hate it.
TWO: I was down in Kombo and doing errands on a very, very rainy day. There were puddles everywhere. Gambians, in general are very helpful and friendly. However, in Kombo or bigger villages especially, there is an extent of harassment of getting attention to get something out of you, so I often have my guard up and my 'not listening ears' on. On this particular day, many Gambians were either hissing at me or trying to get my attention in much nicer ways, shouting 'hole; hole'. Sometimes, I listened and walked around where they were pointing. Other times, I didn't, inner dialogue being 'it's just a flippin' puddle, my feet can handle it'. Most of the time I was safe. At one point, I kept avoiding puddles and avoiding puddles but finally had to cross one to get to the street again to cross to wear I needed to be. It seemed there was nowhere else to go and many people were shouting 'hole, hole' at me. I went for it...
I ended up waist deep in water. I got out, kind of hung my head, but also laughed a lot and tried to maintain an "I meant to do that" face. Maybe next time I'll listen, every time.