I have lots of fake fake-husbands, like the guys that gave me kola in the restaurant, the chauffeurs who inform me that I’m their wife, etc…
But I only have one real fake-husband. His name is Alia and he’s 3 years old (he’s my neighbor). You could say I’m literally robbing the cradle – except that there are no cradles here. But that’s beside the point. It's somewhat of a cultural phenomenon that people say that very young children are their husbands or wives. Even during training, when I was out and about in the market with my little host brothers, if someone asked me to be their wife I could just tell them that I was already married...to the 5 year old next to me, and they would accept that. I suppose, stepping back and thinking about it, it is a little strange, but in fact it’s just another way that Guinean’s like to joke.
My interaction with kids is one of the things that keeps me sane. Rambunctious, dirty, moody, silly, completely self-unaware, children. They’re just like children anywhere in the world, and that’s what makes them awesome; their presence reminds me that we’re all one and the same. And at the end of the day, it’s these kids that will run up to me and hug me on my way back from school, who always want to kick around a ball with me, or who just need someone to pick them up when they’re crying. And it’s the kids who can see past my white skin, who don’t think twice about the fact that I was born and raised in a place and a culture so different than their own. They don’t think of me as an outsider, but just one of their neighbors, their big sister, their teacher…or their wife.
The typical interaction between Alia and me:
Alia comes stomping into my house, wearing a shirt, shoes, but no pants.
Me: Alia, where are your pants (in Susu)?
Alia: At my house.
Me: What are your pants doing at your house?
Alia: …they’re playing.
Alia storms back out and that’s the end of that.