Monday, October 10, 2011

Nighty, the businesswoman

“Miss, how are you? Where are you going?” a woman’s voice hollered in
accented English from afar. While men ask me this all day long, I was
surprised to hear a woman speaking to me.

Nighty is robust and young, with hair cut close to her head and a joyous presence. Her beaming smile and inviting voice drew me to the
side of her homestead, where she waited by her mud wall to talk to me.

After shaking her hand and introducing myself, Nighty proudly
proclaimed that she is a businesswoman. When I asked about her
business, I had a hard time following: something about transforming
liquids, placing things to dry, making mush. With the confusion
apparent on my face, Nighty welcomed me into her mud hut so that I
could see for myself.

Nighty’s small, circular hut serves as the sleeping place for herself,
her husband, and her three small children. Under the only bed, millet
is drying, and big vats of liquid in varying stages of murkiness take
up most of the rest of the ground space. The strong aroma solved the
mystery: Nighty makes alcohol, and the corral she built in front of
her hut—full of drunken men at 2pm—serves as a testament to her
business’s success.

Nighty says she is so happy to have a foreign friend now. She met one
woman from Canada some years back, and loves to admire the beauty of
foreigners. I told her that I think she is beautiful too, which she
responded to by inviting me to visit her during the evenings.

During my first evening visit, I brought her citrus fruit and beans,
which delighted her nearly as much as my headlamp pleased her
five-year old daughter. With my invitation to join for dinner and her
promise to help me practice Luo, Nighty and I are forming a bond that
I hope lasts for the duration of my stay in Pader.

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