"I think I'm going to cry when you leave." DeeEhNyay said softly. I was trying to absorb this news when to my further amazement he added, "I love you very much!" He'd barely finished saying as much before he ducked back around the corner of the entrance of the hut. It wasn't long before one of his unmerciful playmates gleefully announced, "DeeEhNyay haw (cry)! DeeEhNyay haw!" before dragging him back into the room.
Of course Nicholway, or Namuda, or GiGiThay might be found crying...but not DeeEhNyay. Or would he? It had never really occured to me that he would truly care if I would leave.
I should explain that DeeEhNyay is a very sweet, if, as I knew him, not extremely demonstrative, little boy. Most of the other kids are nearly perpetually hanging on me, sitting on my lap, holding my hands, and hugging and kissing me; but for the most part DeeEhNyay pretty much seems content and absorbed with his friends. Asides from the occasional smile he might throw my way, I really didn't have much interaction with him in comparison to what I had with the other kids. I think I'd pretty much settled on the fact that he was just one of those kids that would either take a long time or I would never get as close to.
"Yuh hih nuh (I give to you.)" he said pulling out his unwashed (in fact, it looked as if it might have missed quite a few washings!) spoon.
For you to understand exactly what significance a spoon as a gift could have, and a dirty one at that, you would have to understand more of the culture here.
To begin with, there's only been one time since I came here to the school that I've ever eaten with a spoon. That was when I was specially invited to a special service and meal with the soldiers. Besides that, it's, well, left to your very handy hands. Above that, DeeEhNyay's family is very poor. With some twelve children (from two different mothers) to feed and clothe I imagine it must be hard to scrape together ends meat. Both he and his little brother, DeeLwehSay, wear some of the most ragged clothes. I would never have expected his family to even own a spoon, much less for Dee Eh Nyay to give me one.
Believe me, that's one gift I have no intention of disposing of anytime soon.
Dee Eh Nyay's the one on the left.