There are certain people…
Knowing them, being friends with them, means it’s sorta compulsory to know a bunch of other people and have some sort of nodding acquaintanceship with them.
So, I know this chick, and for some reason she always knows a good number of
white people Caucasians people who turn red when they are embarrassed. At any given time, she knows at least six. A nirvana-bound hippie tourist. A lone-wolfish expat that’s having trouble sleeping at night. A vet on a $500-a-day vacation in Africa Uganda. An engineer without borders. A do-gooder that’s considering cycling from Cairo to Port Elizabeth to raise money for charity. In addition, an ex-supremacist that’s hell-bent on diluting his Caucasian genes by bedding and subsequently marrying a Negro local.
She is like the True North for
white people Caucasians people who turn red when they are embarrassed. They flock to her, I don’t know why. Perhaps it is because she is like one of those éclairs—dark brown on the outside, but creamy white on the inside. Perhaps it is because she is like Eminem, but with the polarities reversed. I don’t know why, truly.
All I know is that hanging out with her and her friends equals hanging out with a range of [dis]beliefs, [non]proofs and [mis]judgements. Sometimes it’s fun. Sometimes it isn’t. Sometimes
white people Caucasians people who turn red when they are embarrassed aren’t so condescending. Sometimes they are. Sometimes they have an actual conversation with you and your face. Sometimes they speak to you only through a certified intermediary, usually another Negro local that speaks their intonation. Sometimes they act surprised when you use a word they don’t know. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they act offended by the fact that you know what a traffic light looks like. Sometimes they don’t.
Usually, though, they just want to know why
the hell we insist on producing more children when there are already so many street children and orphans. That a woman like me would want to have two (or three) children of her own when there are so many parentless children out there is by far their greatest source of bewilderment and frustration. For them, this is something that is inconceivable. Can’t we just adopt children? We are such an altruistic and communal society, anyway—so what’s the problem?—why are we sitting on our haunches, waiting for celebrities to adopt our children? Can’t we see our over-population is a ticking time bomb waiting to go off? If every upwardly mobile generation Y-ish couple with a bit of disposable income adopted a kid, say, wouldn’t we well be on the way to la terra promessa? And so on.
What happens after all the fermented grape juice has disappeared and people have started to lose their inhibitions, is that I take all the aforementioned suggestions, context for context, to the one that must be consulted. (See, I am practicing submission. Come what may, and it often does, I am determined to make a good modern African wife.)
The one who must be consulted will go about the business of setting me straight. Never mind that my usual intention is to have some sort of discussion and not necessarily to effect a coup d’état.
‘What?—raise some other bloke’s child?—this is a joke, right?’
‘It’s not like he’ll be my child with some other man. He’ll be the child of another man with another woman,’ I say, trying to be the voice of reason. ‘Or something.’
‘What’s this about?’ the one who must be consulted will ask. He’ll adjust his spectacles, the way he always does when he thinks I’m pulling one over him. ‘You don’t want to have my children?—is that it?’ he’ll ask, totally missing the point. ‘You’d rather some anonymous bloke’s kids?’
That will be my cue to drop the subject. Starting an orphanage is fine. Funding your ‘Good Hope babies home’ is kawa. Adopting a child? On the whole, a total nonstarter. It would appear that if children are to be saved, they must be saved in bulk. Preferably elsewhere. Just not in our backyard.
Yet I will insist in much the usual way we women have been known to.
‘OK. We shall have three of our own…and adopt one,’ I will say, by way of compromising.
The one who must be consulted will appear to think this through. Then, ‘But…why not have all three kiddos nga they are mine?’
‘Don’t you mean ours?’ I’ll ask, arms akimbo.
‘Same thing,’ he’ll reply quickly. ‘Anyway, why is this adoption thing suddenly so important to you?’
‘Suddenly?—when we have been having this conversation since 2008?’
‘You didn’t answer my question.’
‘BECAUSE,’ I begin, ‘there are children out there that need help.’
‘Pah. People shouldn’t bring kids into this world if they can’t take care of them.’
‘Some of these kids’ parents are dead. It’s hardly their fault.’
‘Some of these kids’ parents are alive…very busy making more babies.’
‘You don’t know that.’
‘Exactly my point.’
‘You do know that you haven’t made a single point yet, right?’
‘Besides, there’s no knowing what this kiddo is about. For instance, he—’
‘—or she,’ I cut in.
‘Good grief. Gender balance?—today, on a Tuesday? Seriously?’
‘Fine. I’ll take it down a notch. You were saying?’
‘I was saying this kid could have—’
‘—an incurable disease?—behavioral problems?—a mental illness?’ I offer.
‘Those are your words.’
‘My words, yes…but your thoughts.’
Then, ‘Listen, babe. I’m kind of in the middle of something.’
‘I can see that.’
‘No. I mean I’m really in the middle of something. Like middle of town. Can we pick this up later?’
Except we will only pick it up later only to drop it.