I've been back from dropping my mom at the airport since Sunday. Today is Wednesday. And still hospital employees say good morning by first asking how she is . . . if she arrived safely . . . and when I'm getting married.
Today it was a man who works in the outpatient chart room.
The three employees that pass their days in an oversized walk-in-closet asked me how old I was. When I told them, they gasped. The younger man shot back, 'You need to hurry up!'
The older man in the room laughed at him and said 'And who are you to say that?' And continued to give him a hard time in Hausa about being 40 without a wife.
'You know, we have a saying in English,' I started to say knowing I would have to explain it in the end . . . but it was only after I had started that I realized I only knew of one word I could use in my new Hausa context for which we have multiple synonyms in the US.
'The big pot says to the little pot, hey, you're black.'
They stared at me.
I blinked at them.
'Uh . . . it means that one points out that the other is covered with charcoal from the fire, but doesn't recognize that he too is covered with soot.'
They stared at me some more, then gave me a courteous little nod.
I was surprised because my Nigerien friends are often speaking to me with Hausa proverbs that they translate into French.
I guess the African saying is true: A log can float in a river, but it will never be a crocodile.