The Egg of the Village
I sat on a small rope-woven stool sipping steaming, sticky sweet tea as sweat trickled down the side of my left temple. My Nubian neighbor smiled at me and said in a very dramatic voice, “We shall call you “Noor” for you are the “light” of the village.
I paused. I was so moved by her statement. These beautiful and kind women had included me into their social circle and were now bestowing upon me a nickname. “Noor,” I mumbled to myself. I liked it.
Just as I was about to call the editor of “Chicken Soup for the Soul,” a lady next to me reached out and grabbed my arm.
“No,” she said, “not ‘Noor.'” I think we should call her, “Baid.”
“Baid?!” I echoed. “Egg? Why egg? Because I’m white?”
“No, you could be a brown egg, too,” she said casually.
“What?! What does that even mean? I ‘could be a brown one, too’?”
The other women began debating the merits of “baid” vs. “noor.” I, of course, was lobbying for “noor” because who in the heck is going to want to write a story about “Pam the Egg of the Village”?
No one, I surmised.
I saw a twinkle in the eye of the matriarch of the group. She began laughing and said, “That settles it. “Baid Bam” it is!” (There is no “p” in Arabic, therefore, I am “Bam”.)
“Noooooooooo!” I protested. This is not a closed discussion. I had already been named “Tomatum” (Tomato) at the front of the village due to my red coloring in the 110º heat.
Seeing that they were getting me riled, they persisted. “Yes, you will be Baid Bam from now on!”
I continued to press for more discussion, but the conversation shifted when one of the children nearby began poking his brother with a stick causing the defendant to run for his mother’s intervention.
I said my goodbyes and relayed the story to John. He couldn’t stop laughing. He said, “Don’t you get it? They’re teasing you. They’re including you as one of their own.”
He was right. You don’t tease a stranger with good-natured humor. You laugh with friends. I belonged.