This post is one in a Series. A list of all of the posts in this Series can be accessed here.
We’re walking down one of the cobblestone streets of Santa Maria.
He’s sashaying beside me, in his black lipstick and dark-auburn gown.
We’re definitely getting stares.
We come across Anso.
“Heyyyyyyy Mayowaaaaa!!! Begeeeee!!!”
We exchange pleasantries, amidst excited laughter.
Anso is one of my Senegalese neighbours.
He is also a member of the Baye Fall- an Islamic sect whose meetings I regularly frequent for the free food.
I usually understand nothing that is said at the meetings. Usually they’re just chanting strange things in Wolof.
That is a language we all have in common.
“Bege” is this word the Senegalese guys use when they’re greeting each other. It’s some sort of an expression of regard for the other person.
I don’t know if it’s a Senegalese thing, or a Baye Fall thing. I don’t know.
Anso has his dreadlocks wrapped up in a swollen rastacap which sports the usual Jamaica-colour stripes.
After Anso and I are done exchanging pleasantries, I continue heading down the street with the sashaying trans-woman beside me.
“Hm, you’re very popular.”
It’s the transgender guy.
Well I certainly don’t see things that way. Although to be fair we have come across a good number of people with whom I’ve stopped to exchange excited greetings.
I don’t know. I still don’t see myself as a popular person. I think today is just a good day.
We’re walking by a roadside grocery store. A Mini Mercado.
The Mini Mercado is owned by a Cape Verdean couple. It is situated on the ground floor of their 1-storey home.
The woman is usually seated at the counter- processing purchases with a smile, and counting money with a very remarkable air of satisfaction with life.
Her husband on the other hand, is an extremely annoying guy- I don’t like him. I don’t like him one bit.
He’s this pesky stocky guy that walks about by piercing the air in front of him with his big round stomach. In actual fact there is nothing so annoying about his physical appearance- I’ve just grown very inclined to perceive it negatively because of the pointless hurt and frustration he has made me experience.
Every once in a while I’ll be somewhere in the store- maybe selecting eggs or picking onions. This guy- this despicable edifice of annoyance, just appears from nowhere and begins to accost me. He tries to budge me about with his stocky frame, with a bewilderingly unfounded frown on his face.
And he doesn’t speak English!
So I never understand what exactly his problem is. In spite of the fact that I can speak enough Cape Verdean Creole to get by, his mutterings usually don’t feel sensible enough to make any real meaning to me.
Like, what the fuck is this guy saying please
And then I myself get upset to the point that my limited Creole becomes inadequate as an avenue for verbal expression.
So I switch to English:
What the fuck is your problem, What exactly is the issue, Why in the name of God are you bothering my life, etc etc.
But of course he never understands anything I’m saying.
And so to him I’m just uttering this jumble of unintelligible sounds.
And worst of all, he mimics me.
He pouts his lips and sticks his tongue out in my face and goes “Tfe tfe tfe tfe tfe“, making fun of my English fricatives.
One day at dawn, I was walking by his house. To my pained dismay I looked up and saw him standing at his balcony, gripping the railings with his stocky arms and frowning down at me.
In my head I thought:
“Jesus Christ, this guy again.
The day has barely started for God’s sake.
I’m barely awake.
I’m still navigating the realm of inspiration that exists between sleeping and waking.
What is all of this nonsense?”
I saw Anso hanging out by the road with a number of his Senegalese friends.
I drew his attention to the glaring gargoyle on the balcony.
“Anso, what is this guy’s problem?! He’s always staring at me and trying to make my life miserable for no good reason. What the fuck is his problem?”
“Hahaha! You’re not the only one who experiences that! He does it to everyone! His wife never lets him have sex and so he’s always walking about in a horrible mood.”
Now I had absolutely no idea if what Anso said was true, but it made perfect sense. And it felt good. It was a very enjoyable explanation for the pesky guy’s inexplicable irritability. So I chose to believe it.
I raised my eyes up to the stocky frowning being on the balcony- seeing him then in a very different light. I pointed my finger at him and began to laugh out of spite.
Your wife is completely satisfied by the fulfilment of managing a successful grocery store. The grocery store gives her all of the stimulation and excitement and catharsis she needs in life, and she has no need for sex.
You’re probably bound both by your marriage vows and by the possible societal disapproval of marital infidelity by a man your age, and so that leaves you stuck in a sexless marriage.
Plus, having sex elsewhere will cause problems with your primary source of income- which is the grocery store you both manage.
She probably just turned away your sexual advances. That’s why you’re out here fuming on the balcony at 6 o’ clock in the morning.
We’re still walking down one of the cobblestone streets of Santa Maria- The trans-woman and I.
He’s still sashaying beside me, in his black lipstick and dark-auburn gown.
Something I think I’ll always find strange about seeing a biological man in a gown, are the narrow hips. The gown just goes straight down from the waist. Like it tapers from the shoulders down to the waist, and then poom– just sharply straight down from there. I actually think it’s a bit funny.
We’re still walking down one of the cobblestone streets of Santa Maria.
We’re still getting stares.
Image: Bunch of people gambling somewhere on the streets of Santa Maria.