Wednesday, October 06, 2010



THE DIVINE COMEDY ( or the tragicomedy of the Malian football T-shirt)

There are those who see life as a feature film. We are the actors and God is the Director. This is a very loose analogy of course if one also believes in the Individual’s freedom of choice. But perhaps God is a liberal sort of director, allowing plenty of creative freedom of expression to his actors while at the same time not losing sight of the plot and of the overall purpose and denouement?

Ever since Aristotle made a separation between tragedy and comedy in his Poetics it has been viewed as undisciplined to mix up the two in the same work. Shakespeare always did of course and the French Classicists – Racine et al- sniffed at his impure handling of drama.

And why suddenly such musings on dramatic theory this morning?

Because I just lived through a perfect example of the mixing of genres: what I thought was tragedy looked upon at night became comedy when looked at in the morning- and the finest comedy imaginable- the great Director certainly has a sense of humour!

It was like this:

Keita was finally able to leave the Clinique des Berges du Lac- he had a week before being moved to the stemcell transplant hospital. We decided to spend a couple of days at a luxury hotel on the beach. I made the bookings, hoping this time to get it right and to avoid the hokey-cokey-brigade. We chose a five-star hotel right on the beach in Monastir. But the night before leaving for this resort we went through a great crisis which at the time seemed to be rocking the very foundations of our marriage. The night before a Great Argument erupted between us:

I said casually to Keita: ‘ We are going to a really nice hotel. Would you mind wearing a shirt in the restaurant at night rather than your Malian Football T-shirt? (Keita has taken to wearing nothing but his selection of football T-shirts recently) Keita replied that if he wanted to wear a T-shirt he would.
I said he was selfish and that he looked stupid in a football T-shirt at his age and with his pot-belly. He replied that he didn’t care what I thought and that he did whatever he liked. We didn’t speak for the rest of the night, but fumed quietly in our respective corners until sleep finally drew a merciful curtain over our misery. The following morning, before letting Keita know that I was awake, I had a little private talk with The Director. After all, we were supposed to be leaving for a couple of days in a lovely hotel and we just had to get over this seemingly insurmountable problem.
I swallowed and said ‘Good Morning darling. Of course you can wear whatever you like, it really doesn’t matter!’ Keita said nothing, but in the evening he put on a nice shirt for our dinner in the restaurant. It was as simple as that!

We caused a minor stir amongst the staff- Keita was of course conspicuous amongst the all-white holiday makers. One waiter asked him were he came from, and what his name was. When Keita replied that his name was Oumar Keita, the waiter started talking football to him, since the name Keita is a famous Malian foot baller’s name, at present and in the past. Within a few minutes another waiter strolled up to our table and wanted to talk football too. He asked Keita if he played football, and Keita replied truthfully that he had stopped playing. He omitted mentioning that his football career had been limited to playing goalie for the Djenne hospital team against the Campement Hotel. But the ball had now been set in motion (as it were.)
By the following morning when Keita and I arrived for breakfast, (Keita was by now wearing his Malian National Team football T-shirt again) there was quite a stir amongst the assembled staff. The tourists were also glancing surreptitiously in our direction. The Director of the Hotel had been informed by the staff that the famous Oumar Keita was at the hotel. He came and said good morning personally and guided us to the best table. Then he wanted to talk football to Keita. They discussed the famous opening match of the Cup of African Nations which was held in Tunisia in 1994, when Mali beat Tunisia 2-0.
The Director then told us in confidence that the Tunisian National Football team were to arrive at the hotel the following day for 4 days at a nearby training camp. He said that he would be honoured to be able to introduce Keita to the team. Keita declined politely, saying that unfortunately we would already be gone. The rest of our stay we were treated like royalty. And not once, not even once, did Keita actually lie. He just spoke quietly in his modest way, and the imagination of people did the rest.
It was priceless comedy.

4 Comments:

Blogger David said...

Glorious, dahling - a little symbol of your incident-filled life indeed. And good to see Keita (Oumar??) looking so jolly in his rainbow T-shirt.

Dxx

11:34 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

how amazing! that was the quickest ever comment- I have only just finished writing this post! I miss you both- lots love Sophiexxx

11:40 AM  
Blogger Juliette said...

You write so beautifully. What a lovely story. Miss you, miss you, miss you.

7:03 PM  
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