Saturday, March 26, 2011

Senegal Scores

I’m not much of a sports fan, so during the HUGE soccer match tonight between Senegal and Cameroon, and after cooking up a pot of spaghetti sauce, I headed up to the roof with a beer to be with my view.  I missed the sunset and arrived when there was only a hint of orange left in the sky.  I could barely make out the birds flying over the surface of the ocean, but I watched nonetheless, acutely aware that my days with that view are numbered.  Thirty-four days, to be exact.  Sigh.

Elijah came up after a bit and situated himself on my lap, and once again lapsed into talk of video games and home.  And, once again, I asked him to please try to enjoy our final days here, insisting that he would miss it.  I asked him to stop talking and to listen. 

“What do you hear?”

“Prayers and the wind,” he replied.

“You see, Elijah, that’s Senegal.  You won’t hear that back in the States.”

He listened some more.

“And a baby crying.  Two babies crying.”

And all of a sudden:
A SHOUT!  And then a roar, like you’d hear in a stadium.  And it went on…all around us, and I looked at Elijah and his eyes were shining, and he was leaning forward, eyebrows raised in surprise, with a smile on his face.  And I said, “Senegal just scored.”  And he smiled some more, and so did I.  He ran downstairs to be with Daddy and to catch whatever action he could on TV.

I stayed up top and listened to the sounds as the match ended and as Senegal emerged victorious (it was a last minute goal).  The roar had dissipated, but there was still a happy murmur, punctuated by whoops of joy.  You really don’t hear these sounds in the States unless you’re in a sports bar or a stadium.
Anywhere you go, of course, there is soundtrack, a soundscape, maybe, that is part of being where you are.  It’s part of what makes a place particular.  M’Bour has a familiar and unique soundscape.  During the day, it’s people talking as they walk by or sit out front, cars honking, goats bleating, sheeps bah-ing.  At night, it’s prayers and wind and drums and music and, occasionally, the roar of a happy neighborhood. 

Tonight was just one of those nights when the frustrations of being here fell away.  Just one of those nights that it became clear to me what I get from being here and knowing it the way I know it, which is also particular.  I wondered if I will ever again live here the way we have lived here for the past 7 and a half months.  Probably not.  It’s fine, though.  I know I’m in deep here.  So even if this chapter is just about over, the story isn’t.  I’ll be back, and I’ll discover something new each time.  And that makes me smile, too.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Scenes from a Funeral

My ex-husband's mother died last week.  She was 85.  The kids and I traveled to the Casamance region of Senegal to attend the funeral.  And what a funeral it was.  Three days long, it was probably the most emotional event I've ever attended; at one point, just before the lid was placed on the casket, and the casket removed from the house, people were literally falling down with grief.  It was the last time they would see her, and it seemed almost too much for some to bear.

But, there was joy, too.  In addition to lamenting her passing, there was also celebration of her life.  She was very well-respected in her community, most notably for her hospitality and generosity.  It was her hospitality, in fact, that brought me to her household, and, thus, brought her son and me together.  And even though he and I are now divorced, my life is richer for having been embraced by such a wonderful family.