My chef Tieta has a complicated life. She is in her 30s and already a grandmother. Her teenager daughter became a single-mother last year. When she shows up, I try to help Tieta in the ungrateful task of raising a very young girl with a child. Last time I motherly said:
“Don’t force things to happen. If you are supposed to meet a good guy, he will appear when you less try and expect…”
Tieta was listening and decided to make her point by saying:
“Why should she hurry if even her mother is still waiting for a husband!?”
Later I commented only for her:
“Don’t you have a boyfriend, Tieta?”
“I do have a boyfriend. But a boyfriend is a boyfriend and a husband is a husband!” she replied with a certitude coming from some place I ignore. She had two liaisons resulting in three children and she has now a boyfriend who is married with children. So I concluded that for Mozambican women there’s a clear difference between a boyfriend and a husband, being a boyfriend some kind of inadequate substitute. I have my reservations concerning that theory of hers! They are too complicate to explain to her or here.
It’s easy for me to forget Tieta’s age, mainly because of her grandmother status. She is very mature and reflective too. She celebrated recently her birthday. It was Sunday, so I sent her a message. She replied with a small text without a single correct word. In the end she signed: LA AFRICANA!
That’s how I discovered that my chef has a nom de guerre and uses an universal language which reveals a lot of things, including her age. Taking in consideration that she is not able to master a languages she has been using since birth, it’s very curious how she seems comfortable with new communication signs!