However, I did not expect to be called OLD. The first time it happened, I thought it was a fluke. A little kid called me "Grandma" (the Hewa word for Grandma, ironically, is "Papa"). That particular time the mom corrected the little bugger and told her to call me "Ma" (In Hewa you call all your mother's sisters "Mom" and your Father's brothers "Dad." Most of the ladies here call me "Sister" so it is culturally appropriate for their kids to call me "Mom." So basically, I'm everybody's Mom. That is my job.)
The next time it happened, one of the younger moms actually TOLD her daughter to call me "Papa" or Grandma. The mom herself is probably only about 10 years younger than me.
Then I started noticing that all kids and even some teenagers were calling me "Yali Jessi" which literally means "Old Jessi."
This was kinda funny until my body heard them and decided to just lean into that title. Since coming to Hewa, my hair is significantly more gray and my neck is disturbingly more saggy. And worst of all, my hands have all of a sudden decided to develop the bulging deformities of arthritis.
There is the slight possibility that this is just genetics since my Dad went gray early, and my mom has arthritis, and I won't name names as to where the saggy neck came from - you're welcome Anonymous Genetic Contributor! But I would really just like to blame innocent little kids for these attacks on my vanity, because it gives me someone to point my crooked finger at!
I try really hard to hide my cringes when I hear a kid loudly announce that "Old Jessi is here!" when I approach a friend's house, and simply laugh it off because I am supposed to be all things to all men (and little kids) just like Paul said, right?
Even if it means being called the two things that women from my culture hate the most. OLD and FAT. Hate so much in fact, that they spend millions of dollars to make sure they are never called either of those names. Paul just doesn't get it.
But then again, maybe he did. To the Jews he was a Jew, and to the Gentiles a Gentile. I'm sure his thorough upbringing as a Pharisee caused deep hatred for those Gentiles. The Romans especially, who occupied his people's land and defiled it with their idols and controlled those people with sadistic force. But he did it to make God's name known among those Gentiles so they themselves could be called children of God.
So, I guess I can deal with being called fat and old…