Saturday, March 20, 2010

It is the end of the season once more. The toubabs are gone and Djenné lies deserted, suffocating under a blanket of hot dust. Now and then a spiralling whirlwind makes a pirouetting bid for attention on its way past to nowhere, like an erratic ghost. Then an eerie stillness descends again. There is a feeling of impending doom as if some sort of catastrophe is in waiting to happen. The heat is breathlessly oppressive. What will happen if it gets any hotter? How much dust and heat can humans survive?
Suddenly the Harmattan awakes and whips up the dust on the plain until the Great Mosque is no longer visible, and neither is the sun. All becomes monochrome and drawn in faintest outline only. Only the Djenné Djenno garden still retains some remnants of colour, now turning pastel as the all pervasive dust settles over the leaves and the flowers.
I took Maobi riding into this near apocalyptic landscape an hour ago. We rode by the dried out river bed by Djenné Djeno’s archaeological site, where the pirogue plied the waters when my cousin Pelle and his wife Nanni came to visit in the month of October. We rode past large herds of cattle, barely visible on the other side. The elegant egrets that normally embellish this scene like graceful brush strokes on a Japanese screen have now deserted the riverbed.


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