Dear Oulimata

You might find yourself reading this public letter months after I leave or maybe tomorrow morning when you go to the scientific club in school to use the internet only (oops, that was a secret) but what I actually hope for is for you to one day read this all without the help of someone translating. I know how determined you are to learn English and that is something that I admire so much from you, your ability to not conform. The fact that you are a trilingual 15 year old is remarkable. It’s an entertainment seeing you speak Wolof! It is impossible for you to say a word without moving a part of your body besides your mouth and when you’re mad is almost looks like your conducting an opera. Oh ,but you’re whole body changes as soon as you start speaking delicate French, is like if you were a different person although the only times I’ve heard you speak it is only when you’re talking on the phone with your crush(es).

Something that definitely made us closer since the beginning was sharing the same first language. It’s crazy to think that you were raised in Spain until you were nine and you came back to Senegal because your parents thought that you had to learn about your own culture. Not only that we have in common, but remember the day that you complained to me how nobody would understand the reason why you prefer Senegal over super developed Spain? And you told me that how over they had cinema, parks, restaurants, prettier clothes but your amigas and your family were here in Senegal and those special people are worth more than all the attractions that are in Spain. I can now confess to you that the reason I did not say anything after you said that was because of how shocked I was to finally find someone that can understand me. You see, until this day I will sacrifice without thinking twice an American holiday to visit MY home in Mexico. That’s were my older brothers and my real friends like Ely and Margia, live and its always hard to leave them every single time. People usually underestimate the value of your family and assume that you will be happier in a country just because is considered to be more “developed”. Before coming to Senegal, I have read really fascinating things but I did not expect to find someone from a whole different culture that could relate to me in such deep level and whatever has happened believe me when I tell you that I am so grateful I met you.

I remember that two days before I came to the house for the first time Diouga, my team leader, gave me a paper where it showed the population of Tivaoune, the person who is in charge of the household and the full name and age of every person that lives in the house. I clearly remember seeing Oulimata Seck, 15 years old and I said to myselfOh no,I’m going to have to deal with a hormonal, annoying teenager. And yes, I was right. Do you want to know when specifically I realized that? The day that I got home from school extremely tired from the heat and dealing with kids all day and you started to bother me about something stupid that I don’t even remember. We started screaming at each other and I ended up scratching you so hard that you started bleeding. But who was the one who started it? Who was the one screaming that I couldn’t fight cause I was short? You provoked me. And also who was the one that had lost my nail clippers? Its not that I am a wild person for making you bleed, my nails were just really long. Of course your version of the story is that I attacked you for no reason and I am sure that you were laughing in your head at my face of shame when I had to be the older person and tell mom what had happened. And let’s not forget about the times that I would spend all morning cleaning my room and you would come lay your dirty feet on my bed, putting all your dirty clothes every where and at the end of the day you wouldn’t do anything but complain on how the room was dirty! Oh my God, and when we would sleep together you would farton purpose just to make me mad.

As you know, I am the youngest in my family and all of the awful things you do to me are very similar to the things I would do to my older siblings. Having the role of an older sister has also made me experience other things. I dont feel so bad that I got you a scar on your back cause did you forget the scar that is all over my hands. I have told you many times how much I hate to have breakfast inside my room but you being so reckless brought the canes of spice and put it on my bed leading to me being the protective older sister put my hand on the open canunconsciously as soon as I saw you about to sit on it. The pressure of your weight cut my hand and I sacrificed myself for your butt, literally! And all you did was laugh at how I freak out and almost passed out for seeing my own blood.

I also have to tell you that I have screwed things up too. The worst thing that a host kid can do to someone, crack their tablet. It was on accident! Every once in a while, making your clothes bigger from all the times that I wear it and eating all your snacks behind your back.

I could also spend all my afternoon writing all of the funny, crazy, weird adventures like the Sen Petit Galle concert where a bird pooped on me and we danced for hours or the time that we were so tired trying to sleep and out of nowhere we hear a mouse cryingunder my room, oh my god the mouse ringtone that you set in my phone and every time it would ring someone would get scared thinking that there was actually a cat! All the times that we would record ourselves dancing and it wasn’t Sant Yalla. Maybe my pathetic obsession for the pop singer Waly Seck is because his significance in our sisterhood.

Being realistic, I cant promise you that we will stay best friends forever for various reasons. But all of the secrets that you have trusted me with, the memories that nobody will understand besides you and me, all of our inside jokes will remain with me for a loooooong time. One more thing: you are a smart, beautiful, honest girl that has a big heart.Your teenager years will be the best and the worst of your life. I see how you stress every morning on putting on the best outfit, always asking me to help you with your make up. Let me tell you that in the end, the only person that you have toimpress is yourself.Ifyou learn how to value yourself, nobody willhave the capacity to bring you down like the fakery or jealousy that I know you will encounter or even any boys.Learn how to love yourself and you will have romance throughout all your life. DENGA? If someone would’ve told me that at your age I would have saved myself from many mistakes.

With love,

Sadomou ndeyeKhady Gnagna