Thursday, March 29, 2012

Mary Jane

The wonderful thing about babies is that they never feel the need to hide their thoughts and emotions. When I first arrived in my village 18 months ago, Mary Jane was a perfect example of this: she screamed every time I came near her. People would try to tell her that I was her Auntie - her dad's sister - but you just can't fool a 6-month-old and she knew my skin was the wrong color. She was not going to accept that she had a terrifying, pasty relative. I looked different, I sounded different, and by no means was I going to be allowed to come near her. Luckily for me and my mental health, toddlers are also extremely forgiving and willing to adjust their beliefs. You rarely find a one-year-old holding onto a grudge for too long. We've just passed Mary Jane's second birthday and I am happy to say she's now as loving and affectionate with me as with any of her true Aunties.

Mary Jane is built like a little tank - her big head, healthy belly, and sturdy legs give you the impression of a well-grounded square, and when you pick her up it's hard to believe she's only had two years to fill out that solid frame. One of my favorite things is to watch people try to put clothes on little MJ. It is always a tights squeeze to get her massive noggin into the chosen shirt for the day, and perhaps that's why she's much more likely to be found running through the village naked. Not much phases this little one and I've seen her come up dry-eyed from a spill that might have made me cry. Maybe it's her low center of gravity or her substantial figure, but she consistently seems to merely bounce off roots, rocks, and cement stairs. The rare times you do catch tears running down her pudgy cheeks she can easily be distracted and won't stay upset for long. The youngest of five children, Mary Jane lives in fear of being left out and will copy anything one of her beloved siblings does first. The first thing I ever heard her say was her sister's name and long before she could articulate complete thoughts she could point out and name all four siblings. Her easy-going nature makes her easy to have around and luckily for her all three brothers and her sister dote on her - especially 10-year-old Tari.

It's been an incredible pleasure for me to watch Mary Jane grow from a crawling baby to a running, talking, playful toddler. She loves domestic work and will often come keep me company when I was or try to help with the evening meal. MJ has found out that her Auntie Mac has quite a weakness for her and will often take advantage of that for hours of play. She likes hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo, and her own creation, "Butu Sala" (translated as "your shoe's gone!"). In this game the little munchkin will steal your shoe, put it behind her back, show you her empty hands and chant, "Butu sala! Butu sala!" Mary Jane knows only the tribal language and not a word of the national language of Bislama. I am in the process of learning the tribal language also, but currently I probably have about the same vocabulary as Mary Jane and perhaps that's why she feels so comfortable telling me stories about the chicken pecking a coconut, her grandma giving her a banana, or other crucial things that fill up her little world. MJ is not an easy person to win over. Unlike her attention-loving cousing William, Mary Jane needs some time to figure you out first. Even though she's past her screaming-at-every-white-person phase, she will still fix each new acquaintance with a quizzical stare that somehow makes you believe she'll end up knowing all your hidden thoughts. But believe me, it's worth the time it takes to work your way into her good graces. As cautious as she is, once you've been accepted into her circle you are awarded with dazzling smiles, chubby-armed hugs, and a fierce loyalty. If you can count yourself as loved by Mary Jane, you are truly in an elite and delightful group.

1 comment:

  1. Good morning how are you?

    My name is Emilio, I am a Spanish boy and I live in a town near to Madrid. I am a very interested person in knowing things so different as the culture, the way of life of the inhabitants of our planet, the fauna, the flora, and the landscapes of all the countries of the world etc. in summary, I am a person that enjoys traveling, learning and respecting people's diversity from all over the world.

    I would love to travel and meet in person all the aspects above mentioned, but unfortunately as this is very expensive and my purchasing power is quite small, so I devised a way to travel with the imagination in every corner of our planet. A few years ago I started a collection of used stamps because trough them, you can see pictures about fauna, flora, monuments, landscapes etc. from all the countries. As every day is more and more difficult to get stamps, some years ago I started a new collection in order to get traditional letters addressed to me in which my goal was to get at least 1 letter from each country in the world. This modest goal is feasible to reach in the most part of countries, but unfortunately it’s impossible to achieve in other various territories for several reasons, either because they are countries at war, either because they are countries with extreme poverty or because for whatever reason the postal system is not functioning properly.

    For all this I would ask you one small favor:
    Would you be so kind as to send me a letter by traditional mail from Vanuatu? I understand perfectly that you think that your blog is not the appropriate place to ask this, and even, is very probably that you ignore my letter, but I would call your attention to the difficulty involved in getting a letter from that country, and also I don’t know anyone neither where to write in Vanuatu in order to increase my collection. a letter for me is like a little souvenir, like if I have had visited that territory with my imagination and at same time, the arrival of the letters from a country is a sign of peace and normality and an original way to promote a country in the world. My postal address is the following one:

    Emilio Fernandez Esteban
    Calle Valencia,39
    28903 Getafe (Madrid)

    If you wish, you can visit my blog where you can see the pictures of all the letters that I have received from whole World.

    Finally I would like to thank the attention given to this letter, and whether you can help me or not, I send my best wishes for peace, health and happiness for you, your family and all your dear beings.

    Yours Sincerely

    Emilio Fernandez