One day several months ago, she asked me to buy her socks. Socks? I told her she wouldn’t be able to wear socks with the flip-flops she wears. Yes, I will, she countered. She said she wanted socks because, if you wear socks, you will be first place when they do running races at school. “If you don’t have socks, you will be left behind,” she explained. Perhaps socks, instead of sneakers, really are the secret to fast running. When I ran the Parakou marathon, I did finish at about the same time as a young Beninese woman who was wearing only socks, no shoes at all. I beat her, however, so I think the shoes do help.
Another favorite "Nafisa experience" was when we were doing laundry together and she saw the fitted sheet with blue roses that was issued to me by Peace Corps. "That's perfect!" she said. Impressed by the beauty of the sheet, she told me I could make a lot of money if I set it up as a backdrop in the market and charged people money to take their photo in front of it. There was a party in the market with a band the next day, and indeed there were several photo booths with photographers taking photos in front of brightly patterned backgrounds. I didn't feel like going into the photo booth business, but as a compromise we tied my sheet up in our concession and spent an afternoon taking photos of each other.
Nafisa has two good friends, Alia and Abiba. Many months ago, the three of them started coming to my house in the evening to do homework. I never invited them, they just started coming spontaneously. Often I’d be cooking dinner when they came, and I’d share whatever I made – no matter how weird. They eat it politely, even if it doesn’t have enough hot pepper for their taste.