I just had a brilliant conversation with my gardener's father in English.
It all started when he asked how my mom was doing . . . if she had arrived safely in the US . . . how she liked Niger . . . and so on. Then he asked how many sisters I had in the US who would take care of her since I was here. I told him I had no sisters.
'But, how many brothers?' he asked.
'But he has three children.'
'It is better than two. And brother, he has how many?'
'And you have 30?'
'It is the time for marry.'
'I'm thinking about it.' I told him.
'It is not good to be very old without some children. Because, you will be very old when you marry and very old when you have some children and if you are young with some children it is very good to school [raise] the children but if you are very old it is difficult to school the children.'
I thanked him for his advice. But he wasn't finished.
'We have concern for you. You are too alone. It was good when Momma was here, but now you have no one. You find husband now. It is not good for a woman to have the house and the work but no husband.'
I wasn't in the mood for another counter-cultural women's-lib chat this week (and it's only Tuesday!), so I decided to oblige him. 'Okay, I'll think about it.'
'But not an old man.'
I chuckled at the thought . . . and reassured him. 'Well, then I will look for a young one.'
'Maybe 20?' he suggested.
'Oh no,' he said, reconsidering. 'You white people do not like that much. You want man and women [note the singular and plural there!] close. Maybe two three years. But no ten. That too many.'
I laughed again. He continued.
'We Hausa, we like it big difference.'
He paused and thought to himself.
'But then, many times, we have big big problem. Maybe close is good!'