Massaging her grandmother’s old body
5:30 Allon has washed and changed and settles his gun over his shoulder. It is his turn to sleep in the field hut and protect the harvest from animals and thieves. Darkness settles over the house. Grand pa, Ad jo, Atse and a villager are having dinner on the men’ s side and are talking buffalo. On the women’s side, always more gossipy and lively, the talk is of the day’s work, clothing, marriages, embroidery and the New Year festivities in mid-December. Their dinner finished, the women take off their sweaty, smelly head-dresses to scratch their heads with a needle and comb their long black hair. Every three days they wash and polish the silver coins that adorn them. The amount of silver on their body expresses their wealth.
8:30 Mide lays clown the bark sleeping mats and massages her grandmother’s old body with all her strength so it will relax and allow her to rest better for the night. And as the other women prepare for bed, Bougnhe lights a torch of grass to make her way to the little house where she will meet Atse.
The Zellons have six little huts, three for the couples (Adjo and Mechon, Atse and Bougnhe and Allan and Bunung) and three for rice and corn storage. In the big house, there are separate sleeping and living areas for men and women, as well as separate hearths.
Every evening, Grandma’s betel-nut-stained smile greets the family coming back from the fields. This is the women’s side of the dwelling. On the other side of the wall, the men have their cooking hearth and sleeping place.