Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Attached to a Picture of a Girl in Labor [FICTION]

- Push!, the old matron screams, nostrils flaring, knuckles straining against the bed, - when you were hopening your legs you did not…push, you bastard! The old matron has a thick aku accent.

Outside Amadou Wurry paces, his prayer beads clicking. Ya Ram-mu, he says, for each first step. Ya Takhaa-fu, he says, for each second step.

- You young girls nowadays, the old matron fumes, - always trying to discover what should be hidd.. push, I said! Gis nga yow bull ma d foyantore deh! Man duma sa morom! Push! The old matron lives alone - she has never been married, and has no children.

Amadou Wurry stands at the end of the bench. A small Peul boy comes up to him, bearing a case of DVDs.

- DVDs, the boy says, cheap DVDS, best movie in America. Shaki Chan, Anull, Raam-bow. Lady Kaka, AC Milan.

Amadou Wurry makes sure not to make eye contact. He looks at the sky, and tells his beads. He begins to pace once more. Ya Ram-mu. Step. Ya Takhaa-fu. Step. How these little currs misrepresent the Peul. He feels a flash of anger whenever he sees them: in their corner shops, breeding year after year, standing at the borpi konyes selling oranges, walking around the country hawking DVDs. Suma Peul bi, people say, as if speaking about pets. And Peuls like him, the successful ones, the ones who have worked hard all their lives to have what they have, are conveniently ignored. He cannot stand it anymore! He stamps his foot. He misses a step. Ya Rahmaan, he says, to account for the misstep. He breathes deeply, to calm himself. Then Ya Ram-mu. Step. Ya Takhaa-fu. Step.

- You Peul girls, the matron says, think sex was invented for your thighs. You let your husbands use you, you… pooosal laa wah! Push! Fog nga poos aferr bi pour mu gayna d - ah yow tam! Next time su sa jaykarr bi waheh let's lie down you will say no - haraa rek! Push!

The Peul boy comes up to Amadou Wurry, and stands at his side. Amadou Wurry ignores him, until it is no longer polite to do so. Then he takes his time, putting his kuruss into a bunch, rubbing it around in a circular motion in his hands, then bringing up the whole prayer in his cupped hands, spitting into it, then rubbing his cheeks, his face. Yes?, he asks the boy finally, in Wolof. What do you want? The boy has lice on his head, and Amadou Wurry takes a step back in disgust. Water, the boy replies, in Peul. I am thirsty. Then why don't you, Amadou Wurry asked, still speaking Wolof, use your money?, indicating the DVDs in the tray. The boy opens a purse he holds, shows Amadou Wurry its internal emptiness. Amadou Wurry's frown deepens.

- Chem!, matron says, sex bu dut jeh rek! Every gudi, every suba. Ham naa sehn taat yi day tire deh. There is sweat on the girl's surface, and her screams of before are small and dying whimpers now, lacking energy. Matron goes up and puts her hand on the girl's forehead. For a moment her eyes twinkle, for a moment the acidity leaves her face, and she is your grandmother, old and kindly. - Just push a little more child, she says, - just a little more.

And Amadou Wurry sees himself coming to the City for the first time, living with an Uncle, high school at Gambia High, friends who made fun of his Wolof, long treks to school in the mornings, when he couldn't get a ride and was saving his money for food. Amadou Wurry sees himsef rising past all this, steeling himself and taking on all the challenges that life had hurled at him, until here he was, and what had it mattered what anyone had said, or believed? He looks at the Peul boy with his almost-white head and something in him melts, water flows in a previously inaccessible part of him. - Here, he says to the boy, in Peul, and he reaches into his wallet and gives the boy a D100 note, - take this and go buy yourself some breakfast.

And inside his first child is born, in a burst of liquids and pulpy solids, and matron receives it in her arms, and she looks at it in her arms and she says, her voice full of sighs - Oh what a beautiful little girl. And she says - You Peul and your many children. But she is smiling, and the new mother is smiling back, and she turns the baby on its back and gives it a sharp pat and it begins to howl and the there's not a dry eye in the room.

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