Monday, October 18, 2010

16 October- I have left Keita at the clinic in Tunis where he will stay for another couple of months of treatment, some of it gruelling in the sterile cell. I will go back to Tunis, Inshallah, at the end of December, when my dear old friend Birgit will hold the fort at the hotel.

I am on the road to Djenne.
I feel apprehensive as I am lying on my back in the shade of a great shea tree, (which Mungo Park described as ‘resembling an American oak, and growing in great abundance in this part of Bambarra ‘–sic.) My Toureg friend Abou has stopped for the all-important Malian tea break. He is on his way to Timbuktu and has kindly given me a lift to the Djenne Crossroads, where Ace will be waiting with our old Mitsubishi pick-up.

Every time I return to Djenne after some time away I dust off a cherished old delusion. It features me in a big hat (that is very important), strolling around peacefully saying kind and encouraging things to people and Doing Good. This delusion is based on a wonderful lady I once knew in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Edith Watts MBE had a coffee plantation called Ulya where she lived with her family in a fairy tale mansion made out of pitpit (bamboo) where one drank wine out of crystal glasses and sat up all night having unforgettable conversations. Everyone who passed through that remote corner of the world visited Ulya. The landscaped garden was full of gardenias and Robin, Edith’s daughter always wore one in her long blonde hair. Robin was the most glamorous person I had ever met, and she remains a friend, and may even be reading this blog…

So every time I go back I resurrect my much admired model Edith Watts, a sort of Karen Blixen of Papua New Guinea. I tell myself that this time it has to work. This time I will be kind and patient to the staff. How much more pleasant life would be if I could practice what Keita suggests: every time an infuriating situation arises I go to my room for five minutes to cool down, then I return to deal calmly with whatever needs to be done.

But what will I find when I get back? What disasters are awaiting me? The water will stand high, higher than ever before. The horses have been moved to higher ground because the water has reached the stables, and must therefore be threatening the buildings themselves- not only the stables but my newly built house and the bogolan/weaving studio.

So, here goes. I will try again. I will be patient and kind. I know that I will fail. But what did Samuel Beckett say? ‘You failed? Try again. Fail better.


Blogger gardenia said...

Hi Sophie
I do read your blog every day and was so chuffed that you mentioned us. There is so much of your life now, as you write about it, that reminds me of our life on Ulya Plantation.
Much love

8:00 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Oh, Robyn,
how nice that you read this! And how much I wish you could come and see Djenne Djenno!
I wil come to Australia soon- have decided to do a round the world trip this May-June God willing!
XXX lots love

6:25 PM  
Blogger gardenia said...

Sophie how exciting that you may come to Australia (on a world trip no less!!) - you will be very welcome to stay with us here in Sydney for as long as you want to - and also with my brothers up in Queensland on the Sunshine Coast.

I am definitely going to come to Mali sometime in the next two years. A couple of girlfriends want to come with me - I have shown them your website and told them your story and they are keen!!

I truly hope all is well with you! I wish you a happy festive season and a fulfilling and healthy 2011!!

Much love


7:05 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home