Monday, July 04, 2016

To Mali

The day before departure to Bamako ...
I am in London, (Portobello Road above) which is  a place reeling as if it has been hit with some natural disaster like an earthquake or a flood. People are dazed and nothing will seemingly ever be the same. A dear friend of mine had dinner with me the other night. She said that on the night of the referendum she had an old friend staying with her- this person told her casually that she had voted ‘out’!  She left early in the morning and they never met and spoke about the result. But my friend- a level-headed pragmatic Englishwoman- tells me she never ever wants to see her friend again and she will not be welcome in her house!  The ‘ins’ and ‘outs’ have opened up gaping and irreconcilable rifts straight through families and no one could have predicted how devastatingly  this vote would slice through the nation and the very union of the Kingdom.

But on to other trials... It is the first time that I will have to  endure one of those nocturnal arrivals back at Senou Airport, Bamako,  without having the joy and comfort of knowing that on the other side of the hassle; the waiting for the luggage; the running the gauntlet between cut -throat ‘guides’ and money changers  there will be Keita awaiting  me patiently with our old Mercedes ready to take me to either the Swedish Embassy Residence or “our” Hotel the Colibris like he has for the last ten years... This will be an unbearable void. There will be Cheik Omar; Keita’s nephew if  all goes to plan, and he will be with the old Merc, ready to take me to Eva’s, but it is not quite the same... especially as Eva leaves for her holiday today and I will be  all alone in the vast  residence which has been the stage for so much- both joy and pain- as the drama of last year unfolded. 

The last stage of my holiday in Sweden  brought another tragic farewell as I was able to pass some precious time with my oldest friend Stella (above trying on MaliMali necklaces) before she  died peacefully last week after years of struggle with cancer. We had youthful, light-hearted  nicknames for each other: they were given at that  teenage moment  when people  consider themselves immortal.  I was called her ‘Dodspolare’ which means in Swedish, literally translated:’ Death Pal.’  To be with her a few days before her death made me fulfil that heavy prophesy. Stella was a beautiful soul and she saw goodness everywhere. Her faith was simple and solid albeit not always doctrinally clear...

She called me to her bedside just before I left and she pointed at the cumulus clouds that passed by on the bright summer’s day: “Look! Do you see the angels coming?” she asked me. I wish now I had said yes. 
She was quite ready to leave and happy to go where she was certain she was destined. And in fact there never was a more deserving candidate for heaven.



Blogger Susan Scheid said...

So much tragedy, and yet with your words, you find the beauty, too. My thoughts are with you on your journey.

12:12 AM  
Blogger David said...

What Sue said. Lovely to see you on the eve of departure. Hoiotoho, show them your Valkyrie fierceness...

7:13 AM  
Blogger toubab said...

Thank you dear Susan and My God those Valkyries did the trick last night David! Hoitoho indeed and with the immortal Birgit Nilsson! Mali here we go, damn it all.

12:14 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home