Yesterday, Trae told me he needed a haircut. That’s a rare thing. Not that he needs a haircut, but that the idea came from him. You see, he’s sporting a long style these days. Quite long. We have a nice hair salon in Niamey, owned and operated by a Lebanese man. Trae has his own wheels (a cross motorbike) so I began to explain to him how to get there. He said “You don’t want to take me?” Knowing him, and his tendency towards independence, I was surprised. One thing I’ve learned in these teen years it to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself to communicate and spend time together.
Trae usually drives his bike to school, but today, since I was going to pick him up, he rode with us. Tobi went to a birthday party, and Tanika had a piano lesson. We waited for her to finish, and then were on our way to see Roger’, our hair guy. I was proud of myself for remembering how to maneuver through the Grand Marche’ with all the taxi’s, to the one way street. I was happy to find an open parking ‘place’ on the street across from the salon. What I wasn’t happy about was the man on the street waving his arms and making angry faces at me. I assumed I had parked in his way. So I backed up. More angry man. Trae opened the door. “Mom, you drove over his mat – twice!” What was the big deal one might ask? Well, let me tell you, it was a major offense. It was his prayer mat. Of course I didn’t see it, but as far as he was concerned, I drove over it because it was in my way. One can learn much about this culture with what happened next. I felt terrible about the offense I had caused this man. You see, you would never even walk on someone’s mat, prayer or other. If required to walk on it, you would always remove your shoes. You certainly wouldn’t drive on it!! After finally figuring out how to park, I got out of the car to face the angry, offended man. I spoke to him in Hausa, hoping he would understand since that was my only option. (Niamey is a Zarma region, and I don’t speak Zarma). I approached him, apologizing, explaining how sorry I was and that I didn’t see the mat from my car. His countenance immediately changed, and he began to smile. He waved his hand and said ‘ba kome’ (no problem). No problem!!?? Seconds before I should have been put in jail for my offense (not really, but almost!) I apologized again and waved. He waved back like we were old friends. And you know what? If I see him there again, we would be able to chat like we were old friends. If only all of us would be so quick to forgive!
By the way, Trae’s haircut? Turned out great. He’s as good-looking as ever. Though much shorter than he expected, it wasn’t my fault, it was Roger’s. Looks like I’m in the clear all around!