Congolese are so fast in communication! Nobody can follow them. Today we enter the Mandible to find our family gathered around one of the tables. Surrounded by people with whom J. claims to have been in China last year, she announces: “This year we are going to America”. At the question where, she says they are going to South Africa. They will travel first to South Africa and then to America. The fourth person, their traditional traveling companion coming from abroad, seems to have forgotten all the foreigners in the service.
You could say a fiery South American beauty approaches to take the order, serves and rejoins the Mandible circle. At one point J. gets up and goes to the fridge nearby to arrange things that we did not remember what it was. After a few jerks she walks away and I try my sometimes senseless interrogating her about the things of life. Now and then missing the ball completely while she is switching between conversations in French and Lingala (I’ve always thought). At a certain moment I felt so much frustrated that I called my friend in Africa. On his “hello” I answered quickly “darling there’s money tomorrow morning!” and hang up. At that moment an alarm sounds. First I thought it came the television so that I didn’t pay attention and continued studying my very first words Lingala. But then I saw the alarm came nevertheless out of her smart phone or related. Earlier the day in the Western Union office the lady at the counter told me about two namesakes from which one of both lived or so in Burkina Faso. Probably that’s my friend also as he traveled to neighbouring countries to get his visa for Belgium. J. observed me a while and continues her talks in both Lingala and French. French without doubt especially for M. Mandibule. Sometimes I could grasp her attention but not always.
While she is still setting some things in the kitchen Mr. Mandibule spoke up and said he liked to drink beer. In the meantime he was pointing in the direction of about three kinds of beers in front of him at the table around which the family had gathered. He never gets sick on the plane and it looks like he can be easily guided around the world and knows even more. He looked as good as ever before a bistro visitor saw him. Then a woman comes in and announces things that probably had to do with the main tour of the evening: another men’s meeting resembling Sunday’s after eight o’clock. It’s really worth it. Some guys come to talk and then when they want to take the place of some women who are also in the bistro the waitress comes ask you to change places or leave your place to satisfy the gentlemen. The only time I participated in such a meeting a lady began to sing the latest Congolese hit. It sounded so sweet and inviting but then suddenly the waiter came in direction of our table making us clear we had to change places to make room for a couple of members of the reunion. My chat mate put herself somewhere against the window and I near the counter from where I had to move once again after which I just left the Mandibule.
– “J. why do you go to South Africa and to America when you don’t talk Zulu, African, or English?”
J. puts then with a metal like sound something on the tables near the counter. “These tables are occupied” she explained. “For a Congolese reunion?”
I ask. “No they’re from Burkina Faso” she answered.