Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Sadik and the Saga


John and Sadik*

Okay.  I'll confess.  I don't understand all of the Arabic that's going on around me during a conversation.  In reality, it's goes something like this:

Bam, ;alksdjfj;la a;lskjdf;lkja;lkjlkfjd house zxncvoiaelk,nadd eat aa;lkdjbpoiautpoit daughter a;lkdjbpoia.zmnc we go alndoiaj.dnvoaijd, yes?

At this point, I have 3 choices.  Choice #1:  I nod my head in agreement.  However, the last time I did that I had agreed to trade my daughter in marriage for 1000 camels.  Choice #2:  Stare blankly until they change the subject. Choice #3:  Ask them to repeat what they just said.

Quiet street in the morning...
All have pitfalls from unplanned nuptials to being perceived as "slow of thought" to sitting through another run at the conversation and perhaps picking up an additional 2 or 3 words.

With this in mind, I bring you today's incident.  Yes, incident.

You see, Sadik, our faithful friend and taxi driver has been telling us for weeks that his daughter (who lives in Cairo) is having a baby.  Since our conversation topics are still rather limited, I try to always ask about his family and his daughter.

"Has she had the baby yet?" I ask.

Insert another confessional note here:  This is after a two week self-imposed translation trauma when Sadik patted his stomach, said something about a doctor and trouble.  My take was a diagnosis of stomach cancer and Sadik would be rushed to Cairo for surgery.  This was NOT the story.  We later found out that he had been patting his stomach in reference to his daughter and a coming baby whom he would visit soon in Cairo.  (Sadik by the way is in fine health as far as I can tell.)

"Lissa, (not yet)" he replies.

"When is she due?" I follow up.

He then goes into a litany of discussion.  Now I will say that a lot of our local friends will purposely slow down their speech and enunciate more clearly because they know we are listening carefully.  Sadik has not adopted this practice.  In fact, his story delivery is in direct connection to his driving style.  Real fast.  Stop abruptly.  Swerve.  Real fast again.

Today was no different.  John talked to him for a while when Sadik brought up the topic of his daughter.  

"Has she had a baby yet?" I asked. 

He shakes his head no and goes into the most detail yet about her situation.  I swear he's making up new words just to keep me guessing.  How hard can this subject be?  She's expecting a baby and the baby will soon come.  Right?  Right, Sadik?  (Insert crickets chirping.)

John ran inside to pay a bill so I waited in the backseat of the taxi.  Sadik received a phone call shortly after.  He smiled broadly and told me it was his daughter.  He talked with her for a while and then handed me the phone.  (This is not an uncommon practice to greet a complete stranger on the phone by request of a friend.)

I spoke with her for a few minutes and then handed the phone back to Sadik.  John returned from his errand and also had opportunity to greet Sadik's daughter.  

We finished our running and was saying goodbye to Sadik.  I went inside while John pulled Sadik aside to get the story on his daughter.  

I peeked around the corner and saw Sadik gesturing wildly.  I laughed and went to put the groceries away.

John came in shortly after and said, "Well, I got the scoop. Finally."

He then went on to relay that Sadik's daughter has been unable to have a baby so she and her husband will be going through IVF next week.  

This is very different information from what we had derived from prior conversations.  John said that this time Sadik's charades helped with his lack of this particular vocabulary.  "Ahhhhh, glad I wasn't there for this discussion," I shivered.

We know now how to pray for Sadik and his daughter.  In this culture, if a woman is unable to have a baby within the first 2 years of marriage her husband is likely to divorce her and marry someone who can.  (It is rarely believed that the husband could be the one with the issue.)


So we continue 5 days a week, 5 hours a day in deep study of Arabic while spending our other hours living life alongside these beautiful, story-telling people.  Just pray that I somehow will I understand the right story...

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