Field Notes #4: Alice's Mother

by Pat Yonka

women-waterA Visit to Alice’s mother at her compound: I was greeted by her mother and many relatives, an occasion of much joy and laughter, especially when I attempted to carry an empty bucket on my head as is the custom for women and children. Even when I made a nest for the bucket using my bandana, I could barely keep it on my head. Alice said it is because I have “slippery hair.”

Later I joined a group of women from Bongbini as they plastered the floor of a new hut.  As one woman pours water on the floor the others, using large wood mallets, pound and sing until the surface is smooth.

On our walk home that evening I suggested that we cut through the village. Alice replied that, even though we had visited the people whose huts and compounds we were passing, we would be expected to stop and go through the greeting process again. So we took the long route!

Back in Langbinsi I struggled with our Internet connection, hoping to get another letter off. Before long there was a powerful “braying” of a nearby donkey, so loud I thought he had to be right outside our door, and this was at 10 p.m.! Alice wryly replied that it …”is mating season and maybe the ‘braying’ is more than just braying!”

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