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5/1/09 Word of the Day: Aqabo

Sleeping Bag Saga, Volume 3. (Scroll down or click to see Volume 1 and Volume 2.)

I got back to Berberville late afternoon today, after about a week away. Walking home, with my mountainous backpack strapped to me, I passed two of my smaller cousins - a boy about 7 and his almost-2-year-old sister Layla. The little boy looked up at me with wide eyes.

"Kauthar! Is tsnt? Illa aqabo-nm ghorngh!"

I caught my name, but after 4 hours of reading in English on the tranzit, I hadn't shifted back into Tam enough to catch anything else. I smiled at him, figuring that he was just saying something routine, like, Oh, look, you have a backpack.

But he stood there expectantly, waiting for my response.

I blinked for a second and tried to remember what he'd said. Nope, it was gone.

I smiled. "Samhi. Nam? Aud, afak?" I'm sorry. What? Can you repeat that, please?

With more poise than most American children as tiny as he is, he slowly and clearly repeated, "Is tsnt? Illa aqabo-nm ghorngh. Aqabo-nm" Did you know? Your aqabo is at our house.

Aqabo, aqabo, aqabo... I racked my brain, and came up empty-handed. A relative? Some piece of paperwork? (His dad--my uncle--is the mayor, after all.) A ritual garment they were hoping I'd wear at the next celebration? I drew a total blank.

"Snnit? Aqabo-nu?" Really? My aqabo? It seemed like a safe response.

He nodded enthusiastically, and turned around to walk back home, still towing his tiny sister. I reached over and took a hand, too. Mmm, babies. :) We walked quickly - swinging Layla over a mud puddle en route - and were at my uncle's house in moments.

"Blatti. Ghorjdum." Wait. Have a seat. He ran up the stairs to their house.

I assumed the instructions were directed at little Layla, who obediently sat down on the curb - just the right height for a seat for her! After a second, though, I leaned over, picked her up, and swung her onto my shoulders, and walked back and forth in front of their house for a minute, bouncing her while holding her tiny hands. And then my cousin reappeared, clutching a giant grey lump. I felt my face light up in a huge smile.

My sleeping bag! My long-lost sleeping bag!

I'd envisioned all sorts of awkward conversations with the mysterious owner of the house next door...but instead, with essentially no effort on my part, it had been returned to me!

Alhumdulillah! (That's the 5-syllable, somewhat more emphatic form of lhumdullah, the 3-syllable, ubiquitous, "Thanks be to God!")

I popped the munchkin off my shoulders and wrapped my arms around a cubic meter of fluffy goodness. Slightly dusty fluffy goodness, to be specific, thanks to the week of daily duststorms, but I wasn't complaining. I thanked him, blessed his parents, thanked God, and acted generally ecstatic.

I opened my padlock and let myself into my house, only mildly encumbered by the armload of down.

Once I was settled in, I shot a text to Jamila. Thanx so much for whatever you did to get my sleeping bag back! My uncle the moqaddim had it at his house-my cousin told me. I'm so relieved! Thanx so much! :-) It's hard to wax rhapsodic with gratitude and convey significant plot development in 160 characters, but I did my best. :)

A few moments later, though, I got this response back: Soooo i um had nothng 2 do w it the sleepn bag gods were there 4 u on that 1. :) She used the rest of her 160 characters to ask a work-related question. We're really *very* efficient texters here. ;)

So now I'm left with a mystery. How did my sleeping bag find its way back to me?

Other than by the direct intervention of the sleeping bag gods, anyway. I have a theory, but I'll spend tomorrow asking around until I get the whole story.

I'll keep you posted...

Oh, and I shot a quick text to my tutor to ask if aqabo means sleeping bag. Answer: Yes, it does. She didn't specify in which language... It's Darija, I suspect, because I can't imagine that the three-thousand-year-old Berber culture has a word for such a modern contraption. But I'll be meeting with her soon, inshallah, and can get it all cleared up. :D

1 comment:

  1. You get 160 characters? We only get 140 in the US. Maybe it's a GSM vs CDMA thing, which puts me out of luck when those other 20 chars would be handy!

    In anticipation of the new Star Trek movie and loving memory of Ricardo Montalban :-),




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