Abidjan Friends Thinking of Getting Out, An Update Part I

M2 stayed in the beach side village Assouinde, where most villagers await the return of the tourist dollar, which she never experienced. Not much seems to move here, but still in the last few years, it seems it has.

M2 had a miscarriage, can’t pay her 20 dollar monthly rent on her salon, that her late old French boyfriend paid to set up, villagers say she doesn’t weave well, another shabbier hair salon does much better business a few sandy yards away, hers does better when her friend takes over, her boyfriend, a well-respected young Muslim electrician who drinks, beats her, leaving visible marks on her face, she caught him once with her friend making love on their shack’s floor mattress, she recently found out her dad had died of AIDS, her mother also has AIDS, but doesn’t like to take medication and her left side is paralyzed.

M2 is in her twenties but suddenly, she seems to have aged, her skin is a glowy orange, from bleaching, leaving new marks much more apparent.

Her little sister goes to school in the family village up north and takes care of the child she had with a rebel who was killed by rival rebels. M2 came to the southern oceanfront as part of a group of lady friends driven in from Abidjan to serve beer in a new village maquis long since closed down. New maquis girls attract a lot of attention in their first few weeks after arrival, and then they fade in like everyone else, into a web of everybody knowing everybody’s business, especially those who show no sign of leaving, like M2.

Along the way, she befriended an old European who opened another maquis, and then set up her salon. She says everybody thought they made love, but she says he wasn’t able to, so they didn’t, but she says, he would ask her to lick his body, all over, like a little cat. When she says that, she curls up her lip, crinkles her nose, and laughs.

The day before he was supposed to go back to Abidjan, she says, and set up a new salon for her there, he said he felt very sick and went back to Europe, where he was married and had kids, and died a few months later of a brain tumor.

M2 asked me, if you are poor in this world, what can you do? She is too afraid, she says, to take an AIDS test. She spends many a night dressing up, and drinking beers and smoking cigarettes with her boyfriend in a maquis, and days weaving one or two clients, getting attieke, small fish heads, alloco and oranges for food.

She says she wants to buy nice long fake eyelashes next time she takes a day trip to Abidjan.

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