My disability in Niger, I claim over and over to the point it probably annoys others, is language. I can barely get by in French and Hausa trumps me each day, but there is one language that I have mastered with Nigeriens. It’s a dependable fallback when the other two fail me: giggling.
When a woman asks me a question in which not one word is audible, I laugh. A chuckle comes I can’t find the words in my limited vocabulary to make a statement. Instead of crying, I cackle.
Laughter smoothes the language hiccups and allows me to communicate with my villagers in a way we can both understand. I’m a good giggler and, here, it’s the key to my sanity and sustaining friendships. If the crazy white girl can laugh, then she must be alright.