Monday, November 29, 2010

Deconstruction of a Gambian Marriage [FICTION]

The Nouns

Meeting. Infatuation. Surrender. Retreat. Advance. Ending. Beginning. Ending. Beginning. Progress. Regress.


Honey. Baby. Boyfriend. Introductions. Best friend. Cousin. Darling. Sugar. Neh-nehhhh.

Fights. Make-ups. Dinners. Break-ups. Silences. Words. Patchings-up.




Kola Nuts. Uncles. Mosque. Hew. Griots. Histories. Lavishness. Gifts. Friends. Smiles. Pride. Mothers. Fathers. Joy.

Vans. Buckets. Taasu. Paans. Lockets. Tama-kats. Guewels. Woyaan-kats. Imams.

Work friends. School friends. Old friends. New friends. Felicitations.


Old Women.

White Sheets.


Ceiling Fan.




Inside. Outside. Blood.



Announcement. Celebration. Drums. Singing.


Morning. Stiffness. Limping. Phone conversations.

Nijaaye. Baby. Babes. Love. Chapali Bon Bon. Honey. Big daddy. Mandingo Warrior.

Kitchen. Domoda. Super. Benachin. Meatballs. Dinner Table. Conversation. Bills. Visits. In-laws. Njaykays.

Period. No period. Vomiting. Roundness. Day-sleep. Insomnia. Mood swings.

Pregnancy kit. Confirmation. Joy. Announcement. Phone calls. Congratulations.


Big belly. Kicks. His Names. Her Names. Discussion. Argument. Resolution.


Car ride. Hospital. Midwives. Hospital Bed. Pain. Strength. Pain. Firmness. Pain. Pain. Pain.


Liquids. Solids. Semi-liquid solids.

Incubator. Tears. Assurance.


Prayer. God. Trust. Serign Sallah. Alms. Sowe. Mbuuru. Maalor.



Fever. Trembling. Weight Loss.



Blamings. Shoutings. Fights. Crashings.

Silences. Bed walls. Kitchen walls. Dining Table walls. Wall walls. Word walls. Walls of silence. Walls of stone.


Absence. Ache. Numbness.


The Verbs

Meet. Speak. Discover. To be demur. To be forward. Part. Leave.

Re-meet. Speak. Call. Speak. Text. To brush against. Reply. Flirt. Advance. Retreat.


Hesitate. Convince. To be scared. To be assured.

Withdraw. Advance. Withdraw.


Imagine. Wonder. Call. Fight. Make up. Fight.

Imagine. Remember. Daydream. Night-dream. Fight. Make up. Fight.

Talk. Worship. Fight. Hate.

Make up. Worship. Irritate.



Possess. To be possessed by.

Miss. Call.

To feel bad. Call. To feel better.

Dine. Propose. Cry. Agree. Announce. Call. Buy. Visit. Plan. Buy. Hire. Arrange.

Pack. Cry. Depart.




To cry out. Inspect. To be satisfied. To announce. To celebrate.

To feel stiff. To walk slowly.

Make breakfast. Talk. Make lunch. Talk. Make dinner. Talk. Hold. To be held. Snuggle. Canoodle.

To mess up bed. To change sheets. Remake bed. Repeat.

To miss period. Pee. Look. Read. Call. Surprise. Return. Hug. Cry.

Push! Push! Puuuuush! Scream!

To be happy.

To be worried.

To be sad.

To be numb.

Depart. Forget.


The Adjectives


Attractive. Well-spoken. Well-dressed. Sexy. Curvy. Smart.

Perfect. Flawed.

Crazy. Moody. Temperamental.

Vivid. Vicarious. Various.

Poetic. Burning. Intense.


Gentle. Tender.

Soft. Curvaceous.


Beautiful. Nice. Fragrant.

Masculine. Deep-voiced. Lispy.

Jet-black. White. Dark.

Happy. Sad. Happy. Irritating.

Needy. Needful.

Slow. Fast. Painful.

Peaceful. Delicious. Happy. Chatty. Fulfilled. Fulfilling.

Lush. Filling. Inspiring.


Agonizing. Sad. Devastating.


Friday, November 19, 2010


She is one of the most successful business women in Gambia. Her name is known far and wide, she is a patron of many celebrations.

Come with me to the Serign, her mother says, Chat baahut Ida. Come with me, that he can protect you from wagging jaws and wandering tongues.

But she does not listen. If she is not too busy traveling she is too busy meeting, with important men, for lunch.

One day something bad happens. A deal gone wrong, a trust betrayed. She is shocked, to the core. She loses some money. Nothing irrepairable, you understand - after the initial shock she gathers herself again, and past a slight hardening within her, she is herself once more.

If you had come with me to Serign Mbaakeh, her mother begins, but she snaps at her, and gets in her car, and leaves again for the office.

A plane is delayed, a flight is cancelled, and she catches the ferry to Barra the next day, for her reconnection through Dakar. A flight attendant recognizes her at the airport.

Ida Sosseh deye morm, the attendant says to her friends that night as they sit together, she has lost her money deh - she has to take the ferry now. The girls laugh, and high-five each other. And there the rumor is born.

And by the next day the rumor has grown, has assumed magnificent proportions. It travels through the country, covered with a web to which each teller adds their own sticky strand. And it is covered with filth, heavy with it.

That she had tried a business deal, with some mafia members. That she had lost much money, and disappointed them. That she fled, then, into Senegal, filled with shame. Did you see what she wore at the airport - did you see how plain it was? Did you see how she hurried, so no one would see her - as if Banjul dang fi muna nobu! Where is all her class now, is what I'd like to know? She will be arrested if she ever steps foot inside this country again.

All while she sits on a plane, looking out at a Sun that scatters its light across the fluffy surfaces of clouds, and thinks about her meeting in New York.

And now the rumor, fat, pregnant with itself, begins to enter into reality, it begins to assume a tangible form.

And those charged with listening to the mutterings of the people, in order to discern any dissent, come into contact with the rumor. And from the ruptured belly of the rumor they gathered hardened pus, which they call cold hard fact, and run sniggering to present to their superiors.

Ida Sosseh is in Brussels, awaiting her connecting flight. She flips lazily through a magazine. She thinks to call her mum. Then she thinks No, ah, let me wait until I get there, merr bi dafa Barry wah, I am tired...

And the facts (that are in fact only the hardened pus of the rumor) are polished until they glisten, and presented at last to the ones who make the decrees. And the ones who make the decrees think on them, and then present their decisions. Guards are posted at the airport, a holding cell is cleared, an interviewer is put on alert.

And they all wait, for Ida Sosseh.

And her mother hears, in the way mothers have of hearing, and her mother is gripped with terror, and sits by the telephone, waiting for Ida to call.

When Ida Sosseh finally checks into her hotel in New York she is so tired she thinks she will call her mother the next day. Probably asleep anyway, she thinks, as she drifts off to sleep herself, in a haze of jet fatigue, no point in waking the merr…

In the morning she wakes late and has to rush to her meeting. It runs late, and when she finally gets home she has to pack and rush to the airport for her flight home. She does not call her mother. She boards, and has her layover in Brussels. But the plane lands late, and it lasts a mere three minutes, the flight attendant politely hurrying her along.

When she lands at the airport back home she is accosted by a strange man, shorter than her, with a tight haircut. The man takes her arms and asks her to follow him. There is an arrogance in his tone, a hint of violence.

She thinks there must be a mistake. Yow Baaye ma! She pulls away. And when he will not let go of her arm she gets angry, she shouts at him. And then she is terrified - she shouts at the spectators for help, but they will not move, refuse to meet her eye. Then other men come, and she is a limp presence at their center, as they surround her, and walk her away.

I told you many times, Serign Mbaakeh tells Ida Sosseh's mother, to bring her here. Chatt baaxut!

Ndaham I told her... You know these children... You know what they are like nowadays... they believe nothing... nothing...

The old woman's shoulders are slumped, and she looks down at the ground.

She is not beyond saving, Serign Mbaakeh says, in a gentler tone, Now - you must do exactly as I tell you....

She does, of course. She carries out the Serign's instructions to great precision, she gives out each sarah twice. She does more than is asked of her, and she prays, and she fasts, every single day.

And a decree comes, from above, and one day, just like that, Ida Sosseh is freed.

Her mother is given notice, and she travels to the jail in a taxi, and waits for her outside. When she walks out under the Sun, when the glare has stopped burning her eyes, Ida Sosseh sees her mother, where she stands waiting, a kaala draped hurriedly over one shoulder. And Ida Sosseh bursts into tears.

Later, in the evening. They sit in their living room, the news on the television, that they both ignore. They look off into space, they do not look at each other. They have not spoken much all day, and when they speak they skirt around the topic of the imprisoning.

The Serigns can see things, her mother begins, that we cannot. And they can protect us against these things. That is all - whatever it is they take from us.

Ya, a Serign could not have prevented this! It is only these hypocrites and liars, and how they will speak against someone in the jealousy that eats at their rotten hearts. That will not mind their business!

She is filled with emotion as she speaks. Her mother sits with expression unchanged, staring deep into the arm of a chair.

You have always been stubborn, Ida. I had no one else, to set against you - this is why I spoilt you. The neighbors talk - the way you will not greet them when you pass. The smoking. One day you came home and said you did not want to go to daara anymore. There was something in your eyes - a fear, a holding back, I did not understand. So I let you stay home.

These things - chatt, gaymaynye, they are merely self-fulfilling prophecies. She uses the English phrase, and it sounds crude, in the midst of the Wolof. They succeed because people believe in them. The antidote to them is to have people shut their dirty lying mouths up. Not giving money to Serigns.

Her mother says nothing after this, and they sit watching the television in silence, where now there is a report of a public ceremony, screaming people and raised dust, red shirts and waving flags, until the night comes in and they each retire to their own bed.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Against a Gambian Monarchy: An Essay

Lately I have been hearing rumors that have left me feeling greatly disturbed, concerning the current system of government in Gambia, and a possible change to it. I religiously stay away from politics in my writing. But this is a big enough change that I feel I cannot in all good conscience hold my peace, as a writer, and as a Gambian.

There are problems, with the method of discourse we have chosen. It is polarizing - a fake distinction has been set up, for every issue: for and against, good and evil. Yet it occurs to me that we must first try to understand our problems, before we attempt to solve them. Insults are free - any idiot can utter them. They change nothing, engender nothing - they are the worst kind of masturbation. Despite all the resources and talent we have in the country, of all the chances at a discourse that will change the nation for the better and at the same time be respectful of each other and bent always toward a useful purpose, we choose Freedom newspaper as our flag bearer? There is something deeply wrong with our body politic, if truly this is the best representative we can find: a half-educated journalist who cannot separate fact from fiction, who delights in the gleeful exposure of the misfortunes of others, in their public embarrassments and humiliations, taking a word that contains hope, and a promise of a future liberty, and twisting it to his own perverted use.

Our so-called "Opposition" is an almost useless entity. They resort to hyperbole, the last refuge of the desperate, on and off the Internet. They bicker with each other, like little ganaar chicks over mere scatterings of rice seeds. They fight, over who amongst them will lead. And our "intellectuals" spend all their time trying to impress us, with how sharp their thought is, how they must be genuises far smarter than the common Gambian man, too caught up in their collective navel-gazing to see reality, or recognize it.

And yet all these groups expect to be taken seriously, they tell us that what we have is bad and they are our last and only hope.on and off the Internet. They tell us we should replace it, and when we ask with what they fumble and mumble and with a fake humility propose themselves.

This is why I do not write about politics, will not be drawn into that fray. Oh I love my country alright - everyone who knows me knows this: I love it with a deepness that follows me around everywhere I go and informs all my future plans, and is the source of all my writing. But our politics (and perhaps politics everywhere) seems of necessity to be a worship of the self, a setting oneself up as the best option at the expense of others. And this requires certain compromises with oneself, that I would rather not make. There are other people who think like this, youths like me, people who are assets to the nation, ready to sweat and toil for it with a pure motive, filled with talent and a generous cleverness.

I did not vote, in the last election, though I got the chance for the first time. Aha!, the overeager reader will yell, how can you then even talk about a democracy? Failing to vote meant you gave up your right to being involved in democratic discourse - if you don't vote you can't complain!

I disagree. Putting colored beads in a box once every five years does not constitute participation in the democracy and development of my country any more than going around chanting party slogans into a loudspeaker does. These are the rituals we have built up, serving nothing more than the egos of the people who ask for our votes, a temporary (and expensive) derailment every five years that does little more than create a tension in the air, an anomie in a previously peaceful people.

The online forums, of course, are going wild. All the "brave" men and women who sit behind their keyboards and trade fiery insults online, and speak with great passion about how The Gambia is being ruined, filled with a self-righteous outrage that infects the people who read their comments and spreads through their websites and mailing lists like wildfire. The language they speak is the worst kind of language: a language whose speaker is not ready to do anything himself, but wishes to rile up others, to drive them to commit violent deeds. It is the language of jahaseh, the language of the coward. It is an unworthy language, of our country and our culture, so full of respect and love for each other. And on the other side of the divide, too, we have the same set of problems: the name calling, the casting of aspersions on people's integrity, the use of force as an enforcer of silence, a remover of sounds that make us uncomfortable.

It makes me wonder what kind of country we the youth will inherit, when the time comes. What will be left to us, by these adults, who we look up to but who insist on debasing themselves, on placing themselves on the ground?

A failure of imagination on both sides, this has been one of our central problems. A failure of empathy. Some see the wish to stay on and interpret it as a love of power, a reluctance to let go of it, and the many luxuries it affords. Myself, I prefer a more romantic interpretation, a more forgiving one.

Put yourself, for a moment, in the position of President: you are working hard, night and day, to do what you believe the best for the country. Of all the people in the country you believe you are the only one who sees the big picture, the whole picture, and you see there are things that need to be done that go against popular opinion, that will risk raising the ire of the citizenry. But that in the end these things are the only hope, if the country is to be saved - you do sincerely believe this. And so you work at them, you risk unpopularity, you risk being not liked by anyone. You are insulted, you are called names and accused of all manner of things. Your family is subject to ridicule and public humiliation. Anyone who genuinely loves you and wishes to be friends with you is accused of sycophancy, of seeking only after his own selfish need - in this way society casts you apart, and all associated with you. Your loyalty to the nation - this nation that you have risked your life for - is called into question, again and again your attempts at goodwill are dismissed.

It must be the loneliest job, in the country.

Yet you put up with it, it is a sacrifice you willingly make, because you have a vision, and you wish to see it to its realization. And then, in the cruel and unfair way of democracy (as you see it), the very people you are trying to save, the ones you have given up so much for and who have hated you in return, these people are given the chance to choose or not to choose you, to renew your term or send you packing. A growing fear, that they will at the last betray you (for you see it as a betrayal, after everything you have done for them, and it hurts you deeply, and fills you with an indignant anger).

How could this not be a nuisance? Who would not attempt to remove themselves from such manner of judgement, if they possibly could? Did you see pictures of Obama, after the recent defeat at the polls? Did you see the look on his face, the weariness in his voice and manner? You think if he had had a chance to change that, to make it go away, he would not have?

But what would be easy for us is not always the right thing to do. In fact I have come to harbor a suspicion of facile-ness, a distrust of ready-made solutions.

If you are of the strong opinion that Gambia would be better served with a monarchy, well there is nothing wrong with that. You have every right to your opinions, after all. But you must also be willing to let myself and others disagree with you, without rancor, without casting us as enemies. We all love our little Gambia, in our different ways. We all want the best for it. And no one knows what this "best" consists of. But if we talk, if we join our thoughts, then we can all discover it together. This is the practical value of democracy: that it gives us all voices, that it says - we do not, cannot, bequeath the future of the nation into the hands of one man. Not because we hold anything against the man, but because a country - the land and its people - is not a trivial thing, to be left to the whims and caprices of one person, no matter how kind the person is, no matter how wise.

The state is not a glove, that fits neatly over our people. It is more like an undersized blanket, a saangu that is too small and needs to be stretched out, in order to cover the whole bed. There will always be people dissatisfied with it, discontent with the system. Democracy gives these people a voice, their vote gives them a choice, a means of catharsis. A way to express their opinions in a non-violent manner. A monarchy will take this away, trap us within a system that confines us and takes away the ultimate choice even the least of Gambians has a right to: who we wish to be ruled by. I do not even speak about now. Yes, perhaps we have the leader we need, perhaps you are right and if he were only to stay for the rest of his life we would become a great nation. And then, when he is gone? When the next leader comes, his replacement, and is not to our liking, is selfish and corrupt and misuses the resouces of the country and runs it like his own personal fiefdom? You think a system of government is like a change of clothes: a dagit in the morning, a kaba in the evening, a malaan and T-shirt at night?

Ruling over a land is not a gift, to be handed out. It is a terrible burden.

If we choose this route and later decide we have made a mistake, there will be only one way to undo the mistake, and it is a way that, save for a brief and frightening period of anarchy in '81, our country has never experienced. A way none of us wish, for we are, and have always been, a peaceful people. But peace is not preserved only by an aversion to guns, and a submission to faith - no, the decisions we make now may perhaps not infringe on our own peace, but they will, on the peace of the future.

We suffer, as a people, from a queer amnesia. We do not seem to remember the past, and when we do we think of it only as a collection of ancient relics, not in any way related to our present. Perhaps this is necessary, a philosophy of life well suited to the hand-to-mouth existence that most Gambians live. It is even, perhaps, useful - for we are a forgiving people, who hold no grudges, and the greater part of forgiving is willfully forgetting, letting bygones be gone, never to be mentioned again, in polite conversation or remembering.

Yet it is a damaging philosophy, sometimes. It was not the toubab, after all, who brought us democracy. Why would the shepherd promote representation, amongst the sheep? No - history tells a different story: of a growing anger at a power that fed off the land and the people yet did not acknowledge them, left them powerless and like little children needing to be directed and decided for. Of a country that grew agitated as it came into an increasing self-realization, of men and women who made many sacrifices, for the future, for us, so we could be free of the yoke of monarchy.

And the end result of this sacrifice, the democratic government, is not just a toubab ideal that does not fit into our culture, but was shoved down our unwilling throats. To dismiss it as such shows a deep (and, I suspect, disingenuous) misunderstanding of the state, and the exchange we enter into when we all decide to live in it together, as one people.

Some of my friends speak of self-exile. They throw their hands up in frustration, at every setback in our national project, and make plans to move to another country, to attempt to set roots down in another land. But though this may be a solution for some, it does not work, for many. Gambia is our country, it is the land of our birth, and that of our forefathers'. It is the only place in the world we can truly call ours - where would we go, how could we be ourselves, realize our full potentials, in the bosom of a land not our own? This is not a true solution, then.

And so to conclude I wish to say, we are in this together, mu neh mu nahari. I apologize, if this essay has offended you in any way - that was not my intention. I wished only to bring the issues at play to the foreground, so we can think about them, and discuss them and do what is best for our country, and our future.

Now is our chance. I hope, whatever we end up deciding, we do not live to regret it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Love of the Poles

Two poles stand on the street, a distance from each other.

Each outside a Peul shop, each bearing the weight of wires that crisscross the street and head in different directions. Wires that are their only connections to each other.

They have discovered each other gradually, the poles. They have explored each other's thoughts from a distance, rough gems that held up to the sunlight have perfect smoothness.

How one prefers the twilight hour, when the birds that perched on it during the day now fly home. How it warms it with a satisfaction that cools its cold metal. How the other dreams, of going for walks, of meeting and conversing with other poles. How it yearns for legs, that would carry it, instead of a stump trapped in hard Earth.

And placing each other under such scrutiny, the two poles have fallen in love.

Over the years, over time, there has grown in each of them a space that only the other can fill.

And so each pole abandons itself, to the care of the other, becomes dependent on the other for its complete survival.

After a while they yearn to touch. They reach out for each other.

And fall just short - they fail, at the last.

And each withdraws, for a space of time, but it is too painful, and once more signals are sent, across the wires that connect them. Conversations are refilled, with the sweet warmth that makes the nights not so lonely, the stars not so distant.

And once more they reach forward.

And once more they fall short, these poles, once more metal will not budge, from hard Earth, nor the laws of physics be disobeyed.

And again they retire. And again they return.

They reach, they fail, they try again.

And again.

And yet again.

Again and again, over many years, over a decade, over two.

Time does not go past, but accumulates, a heavy weight of sadness that hangs between them.

Because the poles cannot leave each other, because their fates are as one. They cannot be apart.

And yet they cannot be together. It is an effort that will always be frustrated. I am not ready, each thinks. It is an effort that is always doomed to fail.

Houses are torn down in stages around them, each thing that is torn replaced. A metal koriget fence become a stone wall with gates in the center, a small hut become a boys' quarters.

The street level rises as the water level does, a new pavement is built, the drainage system running under it.

Still the poles stand, regarding each other across a distance.

A new Peul shop is opened at the base of the first pole. A new Peul shop is opened at the base of the second pole.

The rain rules the skies for weeks, every cloud containing enough potential for a storm. And then just like that it is gone.

Harmattans depart, Harmattans return.

The poles stand as the baby being named today becomes the bride whose name is being changed, tomorrow.

The poles are more patient, than you and I. The poles are more patient, than chereh, and laalore.

But the poles are not more patient, than trees. And the poles are not more patient, than time.

And so their patience slowly runs out, their strength is sapped, they become irritable, with each other.

They take out their grievances on each other, their conversation is turned sour, the black wires that run between them thick and heavy with obdurate thought.

And the atmosphere about them becomes tense.

A child hold the first pole. An exposed wire, a rainy day.

The child is flung, propelled forward by a great shock. She is dead before she hits the water of the street gutter.

And the first pole is filled with a grief that makes the second pole breathlessly turn its attention toward it, a feeling that scares it. The second pole cannot bear to see the first pole like this.

And so the second pole reaches, once more, for the first pole.

But this time there is a difference, the nature of the desperation in its reach has changed.

For while before it was an angry desperation, a fierce desperation filled with need, a selfish desperation, now it is a firm but quiet desperation.

One that gives itself completely, to reach for the other pole. And that has accepted that it will fail, and yet still it does not matter. For it would rather perish in the attempt, than not have tried, at all.

That night a storm comes. You know it, dear reader, as the famous storm of '96. A storm filled with fury, and a cold rage.

It raises rooves, and uproots trees. It drowns livestock, and floods rice plains. It excites the Sea, makes it overflow its banks.

And the next morning all about the poles there is all manner of destruction.

And a falling coconut tree has crashed down on the second pole's back, and bent it at a violent angle.

And the second pole leans forward, looking almost graceful.

And the head of the second pole rests on the head of the first pole, and they are joined together as if one.

Can poles dream, can poles sigh?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Land

These are the varieties of love he has known.

Love of mother. Love of sister.

Love of woman, not related to him by blood.

Love of father, and of brother. Love of friend.

Love of country.

It is this last that occupies him, tonight.

Packets of chuura gerrteh, sent across many lands and many seas. A boiling of water, salted first, the pure white crystals settling to the bottom. And then an opening, and a pouring-in, of material created by loving hands in yards next to kitchens, in gaynas worn and hardened by years of use.

Pounded by hands whose hearts are connected to ours, in a parallel world where distance and time do not exist, or if they do they have no effect.

He eats the chuura, and he thinks of Gambia.

A land with a fate tied to a river, tied so tightly that when it came time to decide the shape and size of the land, the deciders used the river, as their starting point, borders rushing away from it on either shore, cannot shot distances away.

He thinks how even now this river is the thread running through the land's center, its heart and its soul, feeding and nurturing its body, on which its people live.

The chuura is a trickling of pink water, that lies in the bowl, with tiny lumps in it. He adds sugar and stirs it. He pours milk on it. He mouths a spoonful.

It is hot.

And when he looks at it where it lies in its bowl, a small cloud of steam rising from it, he thinks of his connection to the country of its origin.

The way the river pulls him back to it, draws him back by a subtle pressure on his dreams, an influence on the direction of their flow, a heaviness in his heart, that is only eased, when he is at home.

To decide to give a life to his country, then, that is the only solution.

A life given to its reforming, its remolding into a finer shape, less coarse. Into a land not only of peace, but of a plenitude.

And to what end? What, then, would such a life have achieved?

He sits over his bowl of chuura, he chews ruminatively, and he sees.

He sees the engines of development, as they traverse the land.

He sees the dirt paths open themselves up to reveal roads, sunlight on shiny tar, barefoot children putting on sandals and getting into school buses that travel the kilometres now free of dust, passing farm women who smile as they turn the handles on taps, their feet no longer torn, or worn.

He sees hospitals spring up where once there were only rocks, and sand, and trees, and children who died, stocked up on sickness, run out of time.

A man and his family, sitting in the living room. The brother from school, his head filled with pictures of falling apples and bewigged men, his first adventures with gravity. The sister thinking about her school trip the next morning, and whether Baboucarr will sit next to her. The mother what to cook for dinner, the fourth meal of the day, from the stuffed fridge.

On the television programs that are of the culture, and promote it, and spread it across the land, bringing the people together.

It is tobaski, and in all the houses there is a bleating of rams. All the children of the land wear new mbubi juli.

Across the land there is a stability of rice, an availability of meat.

The stink of desperation, the odour of need, that has hung in the air so long, has disappeared. And with it has also gone the gnawing in the hearts of the youth, that makes them seek to escape the land in droves, believing there is nothing here for them.

And he sees the beginning of a final goal, one worthy of a life. A social re-engineering, a re-imagining. A rebuilding, from the ground up.

And he finishes his chuura, and getting up puts the bowl in the sink.

And he thinks he knows, what he wants to do with his life.