|Cows hoping to get a lift on the way to Amtiman|
Typically the small flock of goats scatter as the vehicle arrives, the dogs turn and run after the car barking, unless its midday, in which case they are sleeping. The donkey, well he was slowly crossing the road, but as the car comes, he stops and turns slowly to look at the car, and causes us to slow right down or even stop, whatever is he thinking of? Its not like he's an elephant and he's showing his power.
Well Ahmat our language teacher shared a tale with us that explains it all, (it also made me feel better as I wondered how he coped with our anthropomorphic children's illustrated books and the talking frogs).
A donkey, a dog and a goat wanted to travel to the next big town to go to market and so they went to the taxi stop and got into a bush taxi. The donkey paid the right money 1000 francs, the dog gave a 5000 franc note and the taxi boy promised him his change as he got off. Finally the goat said he had no money but his brother was meeting him and he would pay later. Once they were all on board they set off and pretty soon they were whizzing along enjoying the breeze, stopping off at villages and eventually they were there. The donkey just sat there, they asked him to get out but he simply said that he was comfortable, had bought the seat and still wanted to sit in it, and so he did. They dog got out and was waiting for his change when suddenly the goat made a run for it, joining his waiting brothers and skipping away without paying. At this the taxi-man put his foot down and shot off after the fast disappearing goats and the dog ran after him barking.
And to this day they do the same, when they see a car the goat runs off, to avoid paying the fare that he owes, the dog runs after it, to get his change and the donkey, he blocks the road so that he can climb on board and sit back down in the seat that he has already paid for.
Well that was the first story that we ever understood in Chadian Arabic, is it useful? As a marker of progress in language learning ,yes, otherwise probably not I tried to make this into a parable and failed miserably.
On another day Ahmat was amazed looking at our calendar of Yorkshire, it was so beautiful and I told him that it wasn't a land of milk and honey but there were problems there too. 'Laban and asal' (milk and honey) is not an Arabic phrase so it had to be explained to him and he then said that in Chad they say 'Yom asal, yom basal' (days of honey, days of onions). It really has the sense of sweet times are followed by tears an all to frequent reality in this country where children die all too often and life is hard.