Prix (Thursday, 2012 July 26)

July 26, 2012

So, maybe it was stupid, but I said what I really thought about Marie-Cha on that stupid video that the kids took of me with my camera. (7 minutes. 474 MB. Thanks.) I was diplomatic, maybe we can say that’s something I learned in Cameroon, and I think I just said that while I considered her a neighbor and even family, I don’t think she sees me in the same way. And even worse, I explained it when Parfait asked me, the whole affair with Boris and that she really ripped me off on the things I "sold" her (not that it’s unique to her — Pa-Na, Madame Kamga, and maybe even M. Teukeu have done the same thing). I guess I consider that my fault, since Brondone was implicated. So when Brondone came by at 8 o’clock, an hour and a half ago, asking that I come explain to her what was going on, I did it. I knew it was going to be a shitty discussion but I am a grown man.

So I went to explain why I saw the way I did. Marie-Cha, to her credit, though it was 8 o’clock, explained patiently that she had just gotten back from deliberating exams all day and was exhausted and had just started eating and she hadn’t sent Brondone to go find me and she was figuring to talk to me about it in the morning, and how basically all of this that Brondone was doing, she was just watching for the time being. But then she wanted me to explain it all the same, so I explained about how Boris still owes me 2000 CFA and I’m angry that she hasn’t been raising her kid better, and that I’m feeling taken advantage of because she haggled like a demon over the things she wanted from my house.

"Look, it’s not Boris who wants the Linux O.S. It’s me." [Which I don’t really think I buy.] "It’s not even going to be useful to him, it’s for here in the village, whereas he’s going to be in the city going to university. And it’s so easy to format computers in the city, so it couldn’t even be for him. I never sent Brondone to go ask you to burn those CDs, I just asked them to tell me when you got home so I could ask you this favor. That it’s for Boris is just something that maybe Brondone invented. As for the 2000 CFA, did you ever tell me that he owed you?"

"Well, I told Brondone."

"But you never told me. I figured Brondone was just talking about stuff that didn’t really concern him. If you’d come to me, I’d have told you, well, how can we fix this? As for the things I bought from you, I didn’t understand that you were upset about it. It was, after all, you who accepted."

"You know I don’t know how to haggle."

"You mean, in the States, you don’t haggle? When you buy things, what do you do?"

"It’s like the supermarket, right? All the prices are marked."

"You mean to say that in two years, when you go to the market, you don’t haggle?"

"No. People tell me a price, and I either take it or I leave it."

"And those things that other people bought from you, you didn’t haggle with them? What about that mattress?"

"I sold it to M. Lukong. I said I wanted 20,000 for it, that I’d paid 40, and he accepted."

"What about that thing you sold to Mme. Kamga?"

"I said I wanted 7000, and she took it for 5000."

"Look. If you really think I cheated you, and it’s worth more than what I paid for it, then seriously, anything I have here of yours, please, take it back, sell it somewhere else. I don’t want any problems with you."

But all of this is still fucked up. Even if I haggled for stuff at the market, it was as a buyer for stuff that I knew the correct price for. I never sold anything. And you know after two years that I’m forbidden to turn a profit on anything. I’m not the marketplace. I’m your friend and a volunteer. I trusted you, as my friend, to tell me what the correct price was. You told me I’d overpaid and you weren’t going to pay those prices. And when I said I was only trying to get enough money together to send my suitcase home, you told me that surely my mother would help me. Say what you will, but I don’t see how I can see that as something a friend would do.

And now you’re going to offer me to take my stuff back and resell it? In the two days I have left in this village? That isn’t acceptance, that’s coercion.

Fine. I get it now. Once we’re talking money changing hands, there are no more friends. To the Bamiléké, you become a marketplace. I probably should have figured that out sooner. Oops.

And, here’s the fucking thing. She’s probably even right, to an extent. To some extent, this whole goddamned thing is some cross-cultural miscommunication or something. And I’m figuring it out now when I have 11 days, 14 hours left in this country. I don’t even know whether to scream or cry. I’m sick of this place. Nothing makes sense to me. I can’t cope and I don’t even have Internet access.

I still don’t have time to finish this stupid book for 1ere. I was figuring that it would be on the order of the 3e book, which was around 10 kwords, but I am about to break 11 and I’m about 2/3 finished. Today has just been yet another day of relentless interruptions on the day when, out of all the days, I really did not need it.

I’ve learned an awful lot about being a minority here. I hope I’m not.. I don’t know. Like this.

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