There are a few things that I instantly think of when I think of my dad. One of them is popcorn. For as long as I can remember, my dad has loved popcorn - and for as long as I can remember, I have been sneaking handfuls of popcorn from his bowls.
On Wednesday we took my dad to the isoko (market). He seemed to have a great time watching Pierre and I pick out fresh fruits and vegetables and haggle for the honest price, rather than the Muzungu price. I bet it is entertaining to watch. I’ll point to a pineapple and say “ngahe amafaranga?” which means “how many francs?” The seller will respond in Kinyarwandan. I probably should have learned my numbers first because it does me no good to ask how much and not understand the answer. So that’s where Pierre comes in. He then types the amount onto his cell phone so I can read it. If everyone agrees the deal goes down and off we go with a pineapple (…or 2 if the seller can’t make change).
As we were walking around the market my dad pointed out a huge spread of popcorn kernels on the ground. I asked Pierre if we got some, could he could make us some homemade African popcorn at home. Either he didn’t know how or he had no idea what I was asking him. Regardless, we didn’t get any.
On Thursday as we packed up my dad’s stuff and got him set to go, Pierre moped around the house a bit. When you can’t communicate with words, you learn to read body language – and Pierre was definitely sad to see my dad go. Pierre makes few requests but in his best English he said, “I want photo Mzee.” (Mzee is the Kinyarwandan word for “Old Man” and it is a title of absolute respect and honor. That was my dad’s name for the 2 weeks he was here – we never introduced him as Eldon; always as our Mzee). So we took some pictures, my dad gave Pierre a nice new Columbia shirt, and there were lots of hugs.
When Ryan and I returned to the house from dropping my dad off at the airport, Pierre quietly walked over to us and gave us a big hug followed by an even bigger sigh. That perfectly summed up all of our feelings.
Last night (Friday) Pierre came in and handed me a gift. He bought me a little bag of popped popcorn. The 3 of us shared it and it was a sweet moment that touched me deeply.