Sunday, February 22, 2009

I have talked to Birgit a lot on the phone in the last few days. Always a master of the apt phrase, she described the recent events here as ‘the Square Root of Emotional Roller Coasters’. Indeed. Keita and I had reached a sort of impasse over the last two days and had nearly broken up. His wife did not leave after all, and I lost my cool – not so much about his wife being there, that I could understand, but about me still not being able to even see him. In a bizarre turn of events Dra, who had earlier cursed me became an unlikely ally. He arrived at the hotel one night, as I was sitting alone in a corner, brooding and drinking a glass of red wine. ‘What do you want?’ I snapped unpleasantly. To his credit he kept his cool, then. amazingly, he said he wanted to apologize for the day when Keita left for the hospital. Not only that, but he said that he and Ace had decided to speak to Keita, to pave the way for me to be able to go the hospital and see him.
Then a farcical course of events were unleashed which involved my ex-enemy Dra, Keita’s sister Djenneba, Ace and Boucoum running around in circles trying to arrange a quick marriage and meanwhile Keita, to my great dismay, refusing to get married to me, saying that we would get married when he got better. Apparently it just isn’t done here in Mali- noone gets marred when they are ill. But the whole point of the marriage was of course exactly because he was ill! During all these three years marriage had not been a necessity because there was no need for me to be in contact with his family. This situation quickly became a sort of witches’ brew, with layers and layers of misunderstandings, including my being accused of not understanding or wanting to conform to Malian culture. But that was exactly what I was trying to do, even to the point of entering into a bigamous marriage in order to be accepted by his family!

But today finally I think a solution has been found – a solution of breathtaking simplicity. I went to the local pastor’s place this morning. The tiny little Christian community of Djenne meet on his verandah every Sunday morning; sing hymns and pray. There is a broken light fitting which accidentally forms the cross, although I think I am the only one aware of that detail, otherwise there is no religious accoutrements at all.
‘I am the Way the Truth and the Life’ was the message.

After the meeting I went to see Keita at the hospital for the second time. And this was when the solution was found.
We are NOT going to get married! That is simply not done when people are ill here. But at the same time, Keita will introduce me to his family and his mother etc, and give me a sort of ‘second wife’ status. I will travel to Bamako with him in a couple of weeks, we will meet La grande Famille and I do not have to hide any more. I will probably meet his wife in a couple of days- she has agreed to do so.
If this all works out there is of course no need to marry at all! Keita says we will do it when he gets better, but then reason for the marriage will have lost its urgency.


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