Sunday, March 15, 2009

I visited, yet again, what Birgit called the square root of turmoil and high drama last night, and sojourned at least on the outskirts of the Valley of the Shadow of Death.
I finally managed to speak to Keita last night- he had arrived in Bamako. I had a premonition all day that all was not right. So I asked him: ‘is your wife with you?’ His voice was barely audible.’ Yes’.
I cut off the telephone.
Why? How can we get on with all that we are supposed to do here if I can’t even get near him? Why didn’t he make her stay in Segou as planned?
I didn’t even want to go to Bamako, I certainly didn’t want to go here and hide from his wife! But for love and pity for him, I left the hotel yet again, travelled to Bamako on the hot stinking bus and organized everything then waited for him to arrive. And he arrived with his wife!
I swore this was the end. I phoned Ace, I phoned my ex-enemy Dra, I howled and ranted.
I said I didn’t ever want to see him again- I didn’t care if he died. He could rot as far as I was concerned. I felt totally and utterly betrayed.
I spent most of the hot night tossing around and cursing him. But towards morning there was a calm descending on me. I knew somehow that it wasn’t his fault. In the morning I decided to go to the Military Academy at Kati where his sister Djenneba lives and see him.
I found him lying under a fan in a hot room at his sister Djenneba’s house, his wife sitting by his feet on the bed, and Djenneba sitting in a chair. His face was thinner somehow, and changed. He looked very beautiful but extremely sad and pained. I asked is wife: ‘Mai, would you please be so kind as to leave me for a couple of minutes with Keita?’ She refused. I said: ‘please Mai, it is important’ She didn’t budge. Then Djenneba stepped in and on her insistence Mai left.
She had simply refused to stay behind in Segou, just like she had refused to leave his bedside for 5 weeks in Djenne. This is not some sort of moving wifely devotion; it is more a dogged refusal to give up her position. She does not care that Keita doesn’t want her there. Keita’s feelings are not important.
Keita can’t stand it, but he is too weak to act, and anyway, she has the whole family on her side. It is her right to sit there as much as she likes, even if it kills him.
She has spoken to senior members of Keita’s family; to Lassana the architect and his brother. These are key figures in Keita’s large and distinguished family (above his father as Governor of Segou in the late seventies). She has told them she doesn’t want Keita to go back to Djenne, and she has managed to give me a bad name. They are at the moment on her side, and Keita said they are planning for him to stay in Bamako. Noone asks what Keita wants.
So it is War.
I asked Djenneba to please call a meeting with all the most senior members in Keita’s family within the next few days. I would like to introduce myself and at the same time I have an offer to make the family I said, hoping that this might elicit enough interest for a hearing.
I took farewell of Keita, who said that he would come and see me every day. We would go to the appointments together after all in Djenneba’s car. He wanted to go back to Djenne with me again and he did not want his wife around. He wanted to live at the hotel with me. So this is what we have to fight for. This is the only hope Keita has- let people realize that they have to listen to him!

And then, after my meeting with Keita, I went to spend a lovely happy afternoon at the pool side of the Hotel Amitie in Bamako. I am ready to fight now, I am happy, we will do all we can together to beat this disease and live as normal a live as is possible at the hotel.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul.


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