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Monday, April 15, 2013

Stories: ---of others

Dorothy Allison, Terrific author.
"The thing I'm telling you is true, but it did not always happen to me."
Dorothy Allison

In my life, I have met many, many people, you probably have too. Everyone of them has had a story. I have always found these stories fascinating to listen to. Some are terribly sad, some are terribly happy, but over all, through them, I gain a greater understanding of the human condition.

They are not my story, and frankly, I am glad most of them are not my story.

Every opportunity I am blessed with, I listen. I listen to what others have lived through, and how they have survived or in some cases, maybe have not. It feels to me like I am hearing an audio book with the narrator live in front of me.

One of the best I ever heard was from a driver my husband had while we were traveling abroad. The driver was from an African country and was a "causal worker" where we were visiting. After he completed his stay, he was headed back to his home, wife and four children.

Of course, I do not have a picture of his car,
but it was kind of like this one.
Because we spent a lot of time in the car with him, through conversation we ended up talking about his children. He asked me about my four children and I asked him about his. He told me their names, and he particularly noted that there were  alphabetical.

 I jokingly asked: "are you planning to have twenty-six children?"
His reply: "Why, yes."
Me: "You and how many wives?" (as a joke)
Him: "Most likely I will have four wives, that is what my father has, so do my brothers."

I am fascinated at this point. I just have to know, how does this work?  I ignore the raised eyebrows of my spouse and ask the burning question.

"Okay, do you have to ask your current wife's permission?"

Him: "Yes, but only for the second wife, after that, you can do what you want." (very mater of factually.)
Me: "How do you get her to agree?"
Him: " You figure out what she wants and you withhold it, when she wants it so much, she will give in. Like a house or a car or whatever it takes. I myself, am the first son of the third wife. I will take care to make them all happy."

The rest of our time together was much more mundane, though I frequently thought as he drove me around, how different his life and expectations were from mine.

I also hoped, my husband would not take a page from this man's book.

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