As I stare at a blurry photo of me and my family on my very first day of living in my new home, it seems almost as if I am looking at a different person. This person I see certainly looks like me, but she’s standing next to strangers – not her family. She doesn’t speak Pulaar, she doesn’t know how to make attaya, she can’t give malaria tests, she doesn’t even have a name.
This photo that I received from Esther a few weeks ago has been a great reminder lately of how far we have come. One of my main goals for the year was to become as much of a true member of the community as possible. And while I still have a few months left, I feel that I’m accomplishing this. When I walk down the street, when I walk into the health post, when I enter the boutique – people know my name. I am a sister, a daughter, a cousin, a niece, an aunt, a tokara. My family here is really my family. And when I walk to my compound after a day of work, I feel as if I’m coming home.
Perhaps why I feel like this is because I no longer feel like a guest in my home. My family asks me to do chores, doesn’t give me the first glass of attaya (elders or guests first), teases and jokes with me, and so on. My little purple bucket I use for bathing, is another great reminder. From shyly asking my mom for water from her own supply, to struggling to carry it on my head from a nearby well, to carrying buckets three times the size through the center of town while joking with friends along the way.
If I had a picture of myself and my family from today, I would no longer see someone but instead ko ming e bangure an, (myself and my family).