seek and find

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

to: Patrick McLaughlin with Love

So, as some of you already know, Ryan has a 2 year old son, Fisher. due to his amazing and wonderful parenting techniquies, we are with Fish often and thus he poked his pretty head into many a photograph. As I settled into my community in Mali, a polygamist, animist and Muslim community at that, I busted out the old photo album if for anything the ability to show off the fact that I could in fact describe one or two things, be they pretty, tall, black or white, in the local language Bambara. Anywho, most of my favorite pictures of Ryan are of him and Fisher and so, by both default and lack of vocabulary, the people of my community see Ryan, locally known as Wyna Obyna (Ryan O'Brien) and Pisen (Fisher) as my immediate family; meaning, Fish is my son.

Following the multitudes of blessings that follow the assumption of parenthood, women were curiously staring at me below the collar bone. Some happen to get rather close, so close that their noses nearly touch my "clevage" (if we can still call it that - I'm still under 130 trying to recover from an illness in August) and sit up, profoundly, much like judges finding lawyers in contempt of court, and announce that "no, you cannot bear children with little tiny teeny weeny breasts like that" - I truly wish that this was not a direct translation... alas, here we are.

Anyhow, about a week after first showing off my family and beautiful friends from home, I was on my way to the pump as Kontie, a 35 year old female, mother of 15 (not kidding), wife of the community chief, president of the local women's association, three toothed, terror of a woman flagged me down from the near by well. Mid pull (meaning, amidst her 150 foot 1.5 gallon pull of water from the well) she dropped the bag, laughed out loud, shouted my local name "Umu! Umu!", and proceeded to pull her left breast out from underneath her oversized traditional Malian shirt, shover her left nipple into her nearly toothless mouth, and chewed, all the while mocking me, yelling "you couldn't do this if your life depended on it."

Alas, Kontie, this beast is dead on. I will never be able to pull an empty mamory gland 2 feet out of its way to mock an innocent, able and trying American volunteer, and no, I haven't breast fed anyone yet, and no, I can't shut up 9 year olds with my overused nipples as pascifiers. However, I can take this with a grain of salt and will forever think of the reaction that Patrick McLaughlin might have had to this (continuous) abuse and with that, I smile and walk with Kontie to her peanut fields everyday, take the abuse, smile and almost pee my pants every time she whips it out like American moms pull out mp3 players and ADD pills.

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