Friday, September 21, 2012

I sit there for perhaps a hour until darkness descends, just enjoying the spectacle and letting my mind wander wherever it wants to. This evening I thought of the recent stories of Muslim violent reaction to the French cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, and also of something I read about a strong reaction to a new BBC soap opera about a Muslim Family- Citizen Kahn I think it was called. Particularly the latter story had seemed really petty to me, and I had wondered where the Muslim sense of humour had gone? Here there is plenty of evidence to suggest the Muslim sense of humour is alive and kicking.. Yelfa, Grand Marabout de Djenne, perhaps in his late forties and one of the archivists at the library is about to marry a third wife. The girl in question is still at school and only 16 years old. Apparently she is not even aware that Yelfa is intending to marry her! ‘But what if she doesn’t like you Yelfa? ‘ I ask. ‘Why should she want to marry you? You are an old man to her!’ Yelfa looks at me as if he hardly understands my question. ‘ But of course she wants to marry me!’ exclaims Yelfa with unshakeable conviction. ‘She will be honoured! My father was the Imam of Djenne!’ Yelfa and I have a bantering and teasing relationship where I tell him exactly what I think: ‘Ah, Yelfa! Thanks be to Allah the Merciful that I am not married to you!’ I exclaim. ‘You live in the 14th Century!’ This afternoon I walked into the digitization work room where Yelfa happened to be, delivering a manuscript. ‘I am taking a second husband’ I announced. Any candidates? Silence for a few seconds before laughter erupts and two candidates present themselves on the spot. ‘Oh, no Al Hadj, you are too old’ I reply to the first candidate. ‘ I am following in Yelfa's footsteps. I want someone fresh and young- You can send me along your son if you like and I will have a look- I would say 17 years is the maximum age I am prepared to consider.’ The idea of this was so outlandish that the whole workroom was clutching their bellies laughing by now- very gratifying for me who has never even been able to tell a joke properly...


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