Sunday, May 22, 2016

Brazilian days and Memories of Djenné

 Splendid days follow one after another like pearls in a necklace here in Brazil, where Andrea and her well-heeled friends and family are regaling me with champagne lunches and rides on their Arab horses through the  rolling hills of  the ravishing country side surrounding  Sao Paulo and Campinas. I am soaking it all up gratefully but there is another layer in me that cannot forget that Keita has gone and will never return.
I am trying out different combinations in my mind to try and make sense of the incomprehensible fact that he no longer exists and to attempt to find something positive somewhere.   I keep telling myself for instance that  it is quite true that all my prayers were answered: I had asked that if he had to die he would not have to suffer as an invalid for a long time which I believe can be the case with Multiple Myeloma patients who may have to live with terrible complications for years.  Keita’s end was quick when it came. I had also prayed that he would not suffer and I believe he did not. He faded away and lost consciousness and there was not even any need for morphine at the end. So I suppose I have every reason to be grateful... 

Last night Andrea and I spoke of Keita’s last time in Djenné. That was a perfect evening and also something to be grateful for. 

The night before he left, on the 28th of January, we had a celebration dinner for the Cataract Team which had been operating in Djenné for a week, achieving more that 120 operations for the population of Djenné and the surrounding villages.  Keita was very proud of this, as I was, of course.  The team  was  also leaving the following day and we had a really enjoyable night in the hotel garden under a spectacular and starry sky.
Around the table  were some of Keita’s most intimate and oldest  friends including Dra, the manager of the Campement hotel; there was Maza their  handicapped friend   and of course Moussa Koné was there as part of the team- Moussa had lived and worked in Djenné with Keita at the hospital when they were all young men together. 

The evening was full of laughter and reminiscence of good times gone by. One by one the stories kept coming and  they were  often about Moussa who had been something of a ladies’ man.  I remember particularly one extraordinary story which provoked peals of laughter and a certain admiration in me and Andrea for the bravery shown by a particular girlfriend of Moussa’s...
This young girl had been in love with Moussa  and he had been fond of her but had never touched her since he thought she was too young for him and he also knew that he could never marry her because   the Djenné population (the Djennénké ) would never accept him since he was a foreigner and from Bamako.  The girl had also been promised to someone else in marriage. Nevertheless she had always insisted that she did not want to marry the young man in question, although no one had taken any notice of her wishes. The  wedding approached like an unstoppable steam train and all was prepared: her dress, her jewellery, her dowry and the marriage feast was prepared with a slaughtered bull.  On the wedding day the bride, the groom and the large wedding party arrived at the Djenné Mairie where the young bride and bridegroom were conducted to the Maire who proceeded with the ceremony in the presence of dozens of witnesses. “Do you take this man  to be your husband? “ asked the Maire.  And the bride said NO!
 It is interesting  to try and visualize  the effect this reply would have had on the assembled crowd. “Whyever not?” asked the astonished Maire. “Because I love Moussa Kone!” said the heroic girl.
The result of this pronouncement was that  poor Moussa was immediately hauled out of his abode   by the girl's family and  brought before the assembled wedding guests where he had to explain himself. He tried not to be too indelicate to the girl but he had to tell the truth: he had never touched her and he did not want to marry her. And the end of the story was that however paternalistic society may be in Djenné,  a girl cannot be forced to marry someone against her will  so the wedding never went ahead. The girl eventually married someone else, and so did Moussa by the way.
That was a fabulous evening and I remember Keita laughing his hearty laugh that I loved so much: he was never to return again to Djenné but we did not know that then of course...

Maza with his new bike.


Blogger Susan Scheid said...

Your Moussa story is a treasure. Such memories are precious, even as they don't and can't entirely fill the gap of loss. You are in my thoughts.

2:27 AM  
Blogger jm.herraiz said...

What a superb story. It would get Cannes Palm d´Or if brought to the big screen...

6:43 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Indeed it is great to have such a treasure chest to dive into Susan...Well, your'e the man for the job José Manuel! And how is the Djeneba film coming on?

10:05 AM  
Blogger David said...

Who's going to play you in the film of your life now? 20 years ago it would perhaps have been Meryl (vix her Karen Blixen), but is there anyone around now quite glamorous enough?

Happy memories indeed - nice warm feeling reading about them and looking at the jolly photos.

10:53 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

thank you darling... back in London now. Hoping to see you tonight at J's Private View?XX

2:13 PM  
Blogger mary said...

You describe the emptiness that you feel so wonderfully well. Life being full of exciting things and yet, somewhere deep inside, a feeling that something is missing. Beautifully expressed.
And ,of course, your Mali tales are always wonderful. The book will indeed be stupendous when published! And the film too..
Greetings from the wilds of Northumberland,

9:20 PM  
Blogger David said...

Beautifully put, too, Mary.

Pace last night - forget Rosamund Pike for the film; how about Joanna Lumley, sweetie, darling? For the Harvey Nix London shopping sequences

9:24 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

yes, thank you Mary you understand the loss very well... and yes darling David do get on to Joanna will you- and tell here to bring the Bolly, sweetie.

11:54 AM  
Blogger Elisabeth F said...

Dear Sophie,
even if I rarely react to your posts, I think very often of you. Thank you so much for sharing your mourning, it touches me deeply, such a great love! It drives me to reflect my life and love. What is important in life? Am I aware that every day is a gift? Am I really aware and grateful for living with Hinnerk in a wonderful garden (das Haus ist immer noch nicht schön)? ... No, not always, too often I am trapped in ridiculous problems of every day life.
I dare to say: I would find it quite disturbing if you did not miss Keita and if you had already organized your life without him. I am sure he protects you and cares for you every day from there where he is.

2:31 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Alas Elisabeth, we can't keep up that kind of heightened awareness of how lucky we are and how blessed to be with the person we love for very long- it would be wonderful if we could. If my reflections have put you in touch with that reality again then I am very happy!.... I would love to think that you are right and that he protects me and cares for me from where he is now. Enjoy that summer garden now with Hinnerk- so sorry Keita and I didn't make it to you in Austria. I will come though, inshallah!

4:28 PM  
Blogger Elisabeth F said...

Thank you Sophie. Yesss, do come whenever you wish! Big hug Elisabeth

8:18 PM  
Blogger jm.herraiz said...

Very true, David. I often think about Sophie as a Karen Blixen. As for my never-ending documentary, I am quite happy with the first 25 minutes of the film! It will contain a humble tribute to Keita. Less than I would have liked, because we met mostly when my camera was off... Anyway, his kind smile will appear on the screen.

5:54 PM  
Blogger toubab said...

Oh, José Manuel, how wonderful! I can't wait to see it! Reading that made me very happy just now- its in the middle of the night in London and I can't sleep...

12:24 AM  

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