Friday, February 28, 2014

Apart from being my groom and riding companion Pudg worked as a ‘chambermaid’; he sometimes helped serving at the table; he helped Boubakar to tend the garden and also became the very best of my bogolan workers. When he arrived he did not speak French and could not read and write. Within a couple of years his French was much better than my Bambara and he was no longer illiterate, having followed M. Diarra’s evening classes assidiuously.
And now he is gone.
First of all we sold Max last year in January. It was a decision arrived at for practical and economic reasons- there were no more tourists and I could no longer afford to keep him. Pudiogou stayed until March, and then suddenly he announced that his mother had called him to his Dogon village: he was to take his sister who suffered from mental illness to a traditional healer far into the bush. I did not deal with his request for leave very well: I was very upset to lose him. ‘But how long is this going to take? ’ I asked, unreasonably. ‘You can’t just leave me like this!’ But of course he could.  ‘I will be back when my sister is well again’ he assured me. But I continued being unreasonable, and said what I now regret: ‘But you owe us money!’ You can’t just leave like this!’  He said I would get the money he owed me. But of course that was not the point...

Noone has heard of him since the day he left in March, almost a year ago now. There are rumours that he has left ‘à l’aventure’ to the Ivory Coast. I do miss him when I look out over the plain far into the dusty  horizon where we used to ride....


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