Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Testing with a Side of Revenge

It was 109 degrees on the day we went to test Sarah* (a relative of Jasmine,* my neighbor).  Sarah* was at her uncle's house.

Everyone in the family (which seems to be many people in my neighborhood) had been using the uncle's house as a meeting place lately because Jasmine's* mother had been attacked by a stranger, and she was healing there.

We have been told many people visit her at night, and this house certainly had a big enough sitting room to hold a lot of people.

I took a picture from my corner of the room just to show how far it was across and to tell you another story.

We sat in the room with Jasmine*, two of her daughters, her injured mother, her uncle, and a male cousin.  We talked for a long time.  The male cousin (who was older than I) quizzed me on my language.  The injured mother kept saying, "She will learn."  And he kept saying, "She speaks well.  I just want to see what she knows."  (I could actually understand all of this).

He would test me on different objects in the room, and then when he found something I didn't know (like a "cigarette lighter"), he would proceed to teach me, and he seemed to enjoy that.

The family really seemed to like him, even though he seemed big and gruff, and I grew to like him, too.

Jennifer* asked about the framed gun over the fireplace and asked if it had been his grandmother's.  (She meant to say "grandfather," but I know all too well about making mistakes).  They laughed and said, "No, they had bought it."

But then the cousin got up and went to the corner and picked up what looked similar to a Tommy Gun, and said it was his.  Can you see it leaning on the orange pillow?

He said it was for "Daesh." (the Arabic word for ‘a group of bigots who impose their will on others.'  They use that name because it delegitimizes "the organization" and because it is an insult or swearword in its own right).

Then a younger man entered the room, and we all stood up for some reason.  He greeted the other men and then sat down.  Then 7 more men entered the room, and no one stood up.  (We asked later and found out that the younger man was considered a guest (even though he's married to a lady in the family) and the others weren't considered guests).  I don't know what determines all of this.

All of the women (there were more there by now) went to the kitchen when the men arrived, and they beckoned me and Jennifer* to come in the kitchen as well, but Jasmine* was sitting by her injured mom, and she wasn't leaving, so we stayed with our friend.

Do as they do, right?

It was the first time I'd been in a room with this many local men.  None of the women spoke at all except the injured mother.  And in this particular case, one loud man took over the conversation.  He was talking about killing someone.  He was angry.  He said someone was crazy.  He talked about a large sum of money.  He was pointing his finger and aiming at people and hitting the ground with it.  I basically had no idea what was going on, but everyone else was kind of snickering.

He had crazy eyes, and my feelings about him were confirmed when the big cousin across the room, mouthed to us that that man was "crazy."  Crazy enough (pun intended), the word for "crazy" in this country is very close to a cuss word in English.  As a matter of fact, many of the cuss words we have in English are used in everyday speech here as normal words.  It really catches me off-guard when they are used or when I have to use them!!

After all of his ranting, he got up, walked over to the fireplace, and picked up a belt with several clips/rounds of bullets attached to it.  He belted it to his waist.  Then he picked up the gun, and walked out.

No one said anything.

Wasn't this the other man's gun?

I thought we might have some Independence Day fireworks or something.

Then another man that had followed him out, came back and belted to his waist another set of clips that I hadn't seen sitting in the fireplace.

Then someone came back in to report that the crazy man had slipped and fallen as he had left the house, and everyone laughed.

I'm pretty sure laughing at a crazy man with a gun is not a good thing, people!

Anyway, after 2 1/2 hours of this "testing visit," I was exhausted.  We had already mentioned to Jasmine* that we needed to leave, and she said she would come with us.

But we waited for her to make the first move.

Because that's what you do.

It wasn't happening.

After 20 minutes, I texted Doug, and wrote, "Call me."

He got the message thankfully, and he did call.

I said, "Did you need me?"

He said, "Of course I need you."

I got off the phone and looked at Jasmine* and said, "My husband needs me."

And there you have it.  She got up.

Jennifer* and I were hosting a local family at her house that night and we both needed to cook our dishes.

Here comes another late night.

Yep!  4am!

*Names changed

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