Saturday, January 2, 2010
Love: brides to be 2 of 3
In the tension, Mary's bowels trouble her. Mary believed she'd quietly side-stepped her death sentence; the diarrhea she feared would dehydrate her body has been absent so long. Wasn't I the fool, believing some place is beyond harm---as though we can be good and wish it away!
She crouches, remaining concealed for privacy as she watches more of the new arrivals fleeing the Congo, passing here in Dano. Their wretchedness state of clothing marks the refugees. If only our neighboring countries weren't so torn with greed and killing, there wouldn't be so many still born children. Or refugees. Sick to her stomach with anger, she realizes she must calm herself, ashamed at her unwelcome towards those proceeding to the water, life preserving, without which the tribe passes away.
So that is what it is like to fear the downtrodden.
An image of her friend Thomas---my gay magician buddy---eases her mind, brings an awareness of the fear itself, like the joy, childlike in equal measure. She blinks back tears, resolving to see him after delivering water to her hut.
Unless someone asks, I'll keep this to myself, I can't spread this feeling! How can I greet everyone 'good morning'? Happy things can be said, even when days begin in unhappy things. What of the birds, singing in the baobob tree on the left hand side of the path? Her evaluations shrink quietly, like one of many obstacles an ant might notice upon the ground.
She continues vacillating between sorrow and solace until she reaches the hut, tears welling in eyes lit by dawn as she kneels with the pots and calabashes. By night only, she shares this earthen hut, always safe, hearing, feeling the breathing of the women and children, even when she'd first arrived, when the thilduu, the hearth shrine, was still enfolded in mystery, brightly colored carvings.
In a way, knowing of the ancestors, the closeness of their world, its place in the hearts and imaginations of her precious Dagara only deepens the mystery, though all her alarm over the supernatural---she'd avoided thinking about it 'too much' at first---faded as she saw it naturally incorporated. Life was less sophisticated by a material standard here, yes; did she find, in sophistication's place, an honesty nonpareil, based on love and appreciation? Isn't that worth the hardships we bear?, she implores, to some witness self within. Is it?
She starts the fire for the largest kettle. I can take Sisquekwo warm water. Maybe Wobogo or someone can help me get it there. That's what I love---no one has to do anything alone.
There's a soft tug at her sleeve as she stares into the fire, lofting some hopeful part of her from the ashes, hope that slowly descends, mist-like, her presence comforting Sisqekwo and all her house. She turns from this inner sanctity to find it reflected without, in the face of little Naylan, watching her, awakened by the shoveling of ashes, stirred from dream to hug her unconditionally.
"Mam nanga feom," Naylan Da says.
"Mam nanga feom (I love you!)" replies Mary, stroking his head, shaven for summer.
They speak of their dreams, as Sankanthu Da, who remembers no dreams, arises to play with Naylan and aid in morning chores. They take great delight in Naylan's tale of reptile giants, like crocodiles, shaping the world with new mountains and oceans.
"Maybe you dreamt of the creation of the world," says Sakanthu. "I've never heard it that way!"
Mary dismisses herself from their company and the warming water, departing for Thomas Sankara's hut.
"I think we will go welcome Thurisa today," Naylan says, provoking cooing from Sakanthu. "When she comes, we will all know happiness."
Still sometimes I hurry, Kulinah thinks, grateful to head straightaway to her objective. Early on, she'd beg excuse for the embarrassing irregularities of her condition, only to find no one was particularly bothered, even offering ritualistic health. Her resistance to ritual lessened, and then in time, she found the rituals had replaced the anxieties, even most of the effects!
A quick dismissal doesn't seem appropriate in the presence of Osun, one third of the Hienbe wedding party planned for the next day. They'd first met, chasing the elephants out of the strained rivulets of the cracked riverbed; the elephants tended to keep a trail near water. She'd introduced Mary to "monkey bread," the sweetly, slightly acidic enormous oval sacs, picked off the trees for a delicious jolt.
"Kibari, Kulinah!" says the topless, stately young woman, with the Yoruban first name and Fulani looks. She'd attained baskets of leaves for shea butter from a kerlite tree, doubtlessly to prepare cooking. She puts them down for a hug. Something in Osun's love, thinks Mary, is full of every one's love! She wonders about her, the wedded life ahead. She replies, squeezing Osun tightly as she speaks:
"What joy you must feel, making your vows open to all!" She finds, in the strange language, an eloquence here, after the burdensome clichés piled unthinkingly into most of her life, erased by new talk in this ancient land.
"And you are most welcome, too, my far-away bird!"
"Are you nervous?"
"Oh! Unafraid, but yes, so much attention! What did I ever do to deserve so much, besides follow my path?"
Something deep within Mary-Kulinah stirs, a point of view open between dream and waking, an idea that titillates and comforts simultaneously. Perhaps, she thinks to herself, of something so irrational, yet possibly magical, so long denied.
"Osun, come with me if you want to share conversation. We are going to see our thildar friend."
Osun pauses thoughtfully. "The gateway Thomas?"
"That's the perfect way to say it, yes!" she replies, taking the hand offered, with its aloe scent wafting in the breeze-born rustling.
"Na an bi baro ke (let's hang out)!" Osun says. "Nib'I fe (I like you!) Ed looge (let's go!)"
*Mary listens to Osun's joyous chirping , as she caresses a gaa tree reaching out of sight into the sky. They pad the cool, red earth; a kerlite tree rustles nearby, as Osun hums before speaking.
"Oh, the yolon! My wedding will have a balaphon player! You know, like 'tinka tinka tink-tink'," she says, pantomiming a xylophone, hammering its bars to some danceable rhythm. "I'm sure you didn't know at first how many people have taken on the name Thomas Sankara. That was one rare president! No air conditioner and one refrigerator; an honest, four hundred-fifty dollar a month salary, an all-woman motorcycle honor guard, a guitar, and a mind full of compassion for what all the tribes need."
"He sounds like one of us," says Kulinah. Us.
"He still is one of us," says Osun with cheer. Mary Kulinah contemplates how happiness marks Burkina Faso, is part of its identity as surely as poverty and the danger of malaria.
But why doesn't that joy survive the education process more often? Why couldn't a few more tribes people acquire Western-style skills for improving the quality of life? What could anyone now do for Thurisa? Who could save Sisquewo?