Heather in Senegal

Monday, May 22, 2006

April 25
I once dated a boy who insisted on washing my feet. He said it was not an act of affection but one of self-preservation. My feet can smell a bit bad at times. After school today my Senegalese mother looked at my feet, shook her head, and sent me outside to wash them. She may have said something about thinking I should know better, but I’m just going on tone of voice with that, not actual vocabulary. A second after I got outside I was joined by my eleven year old sister who was under instruction to teach me to wash my feet. She showed me where the soap is kept, and she had me fill a kettle with water from the outdoor tap. Next she directed me to the young mango tree and bade me hold my foot over the tree so that the water she poured on my foot would not go to waste. I gently soaped my foot and looked at her expectantly, thinking she would rinse me. Again with the headshaking. Three or four times we went through this for each foot. I would scrub, she would say it wasn’t enough, and I would have to scrub more. When my feet were finally deemed satisfactory she took my hand and paraded me before our mother.


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