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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Hercules, in Baby Pulaar

I’m back safe in stifling sweaty Senegal.  It was great to return “home” after my long American vacation.  I came back to a barrage of handclapping, dancing, and children and adults all running to me screaming “Kadiatou’s back!  Kadiatou’s back!” America was really hard to leave, as I expected…but after a village homecoming like that, I was happy to be back here.  Plus, the mangoes are ripe.

After I came back, one of the first things I did with my family was watch Hercules (the 90s animated film, not the Kevin Sorbo masterpiece, regrettably.  If anyone could send me files of Kevin Sorbo or Lucy Lawless, I’m down.)  I was able to explain most of the film using my baby Pulaar…sort of.

I’m far more comfortable speaking than I used to be, but my language is still laughably bad.  It’s like every day I’m working on a 1000-piece puzzle, but I only have 200 pieces.  I’m able to put together pieces that my village can recognize as coherent thought, but sometimes my paltry vocabulary and terrible grammar just doesn’t cut it.  However, even though there are many, many things I don’t know how to say, I’m getting much better at stringing together words I do know to explain myself, so if I have a sympathetic listener, one who is patient enough to work through the puzzle with me, I can get a lot across.

As you read through this, imagine that everything Kadiatou (me, the foreigner) says is in a very strong accent that makes her nearly impossible to understand, and that every 4th word or so has some grammar mistakes.


Kadiatou, The Foreigner, Yours Truly.
Alpha: My 12-year old brother with a heart of gold.
Psydu: A teenaged neighbor boy who didn’t make much of an impression on me at first, but now that I can understand him, he’s hilarious.
Fatou: 14ish sister who is sassy but sweet.

*Credits Roll and Opening Song Plays*

Alpha:  “Kadiatou – is this film scary?”
Kadiatou: “No.  It is a film for children.”
Alpha: “Are there dinosaurs?”
Kadiatou: “No dinosaurs.”
Alpha: “I still see dinosaurs when I try to sleep at night.  The dinosaur film was too scary.”
*general exclamations of agreement, discussion of Jurassic Park*

Fatou: “Kadiatou, who is that?”
Kadiatou: “That young man?  He is called Hercules.  His father is Allah.  But there are many Allahs.  Those animals stole him.  Hercules drank the ‘magic’ drink.”(I stumbled on the word “magic.”  When I don’t know how to say something in Pulaar, I usually just say it in English with a French accent.  More often than not, this actually works.)
Fatou: “Le boisson magic?”  (Yesssss, worked again!)
Kadiatou: “Voila, le boisson magic.  But he did not drink it all.  Now, he is between man and Allah.  His mind is man but his body is Allah.”
*Hercules goes to Zeus's temple*

Kadiatou: “This is the mosque.  That is Hercules’s father, Allah.  He said that Hercules must get the personality and body of Allah.  Then he can come home.”

*Pegasus enters the screen*

Alpha: “Kadiatou, what’s that?”
Kadiatou: “Umm…puccusonndu.” (“horsebird,” literally).

Alpha (confused): “Puccusonndu?”

*rumbled sounds of disagreement and confusion.*

Fatou: “Oh!  I see!  Puccusonndu!”

*general happy grunts of agreement*

Alpha: “Kadiatou, what is that?”
Kadiatou: (hesitates for a minute...how do you say "satyr" in Pulaar?  Decides to let them answer this one on their own.) "You see.”
Fatou: “Mbeewagorko.” (“goatman,” literally.)
Alpha: “Kadiatou, is that an mbeewagorko?”
Kadiatou: “Yes.  His head is man.  His body is goat.  He is a teacher of fighting.  Now Hercules will learn fighting.  Now he has the body of Allah, but he cannot go home yet, because he does not have the personality of Allah.”

*first scene with Megara*

Psydu: “Who is that little girl?”
Kadiatou: “She is a woman.  Is she pretty?”
Psydu: “She has no body.  She needs to eat more mangoes.”

*Megara goes to Hades*

Kadiatou: “Now the woman is going to her boss.  You see, her boss is not good.  Now the woman loves Hercules.  And Hercules loves her.  Hercules gives his power.  Now Hercules does not have power."
Psydu (quietly, as if to himself): “When she goes to the doctor, he tells her to go weigh herself at the boutique instead.  She is less than 5 kilos!”

*The titans start attacking*

Alpha: “Kadiatou, turn the film off, it’s too scary.”

Kadiatou: “Just wait.  It is a film for children.  Everything is at peace.”
Alpha: “But Hercules does not have power. He will die.”
Kadiatou: “Just wait.”

*Pillar falls on Megara and she dies*

Kadiatou: “Now the woman died.”
Everyone: “She DIED?!”
Kadiatou: “Now Hercules has his power.”
Psydu: “Oh!  Because the girl was a witch!”
Kadiatou: “She was not a witch.”
Psydu: “Yes, she died, and now he has his power.  She was a witch.”
*Everyone agrees with Psydu, so I shrug and drop it.*

*Hercules dives in the pool of souls in Hell and rescues Megara’s soul and returns it to her body, which apparently was easy for everyone to understand because everyone happily narrated it to each other as it was happening.*

Kadiatou: “Hercules wanted to help his friend.  He did not think of only himself.  Now he has the personality of Allah.  Now Hercules can go home.  But the woman is only a person.  She cannot go to Allah’s house.”
Psydu: “She can’t go in because she is a witch.”
Kadiatou: “She is not a witch.  But now.  You see?  Hercules loves her so he wants to live with her on Earth.”

Psydu: “Until the wind comes.  Then she will blow away.”

I checked my cell phone clock incredulously as the credits rolled. 
12:06 AM. 

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