Monday, December 13, 2010

Return from Mecca

Papa returns from Mecca.  The wooden-slat hangar has been constructed just in time (but it doesn't look so long-lasting). An elder woman griot is leading a call-response (I'm guessing religious inspired) song with rhythmic clapping as the beat.  Its sounds good and draws me over.  I was actually on my way out the door to ride around town to make some errands when i saw the goings-on.  I wants even told Papa was back (thanks, 'family'), so I'm a little put-off.  But, i decided now that they've seen me and I've seen it, I better go over. I don't go up and welcome papa though because he's sitting high up and in front of everyone, and I'm there with my bike and helmet on, and not dressed in festive attire.  I see the 2nd wife has a prominent seat on the couch next to papa's brother, (this is the first time I've seen her, because she has her own separate house in Conakry) and then papa - there are only 3 on the couch.  Papa is wearing an all white Muslim robe with a headdress with a black tie wrapped around it, looking very 'Saudi Arabia.' Mama's sitting at the far side of the hangar with the other women.  I have a hard time getting my head around how there can be so many prayers, benedictions, and well wishing when on opposite sides of the hangar one clearly sees the 2 poles of the cosmic creative universe:  wife number one and wife number two.  The elephant in this closet is HUGE.  Allah help us. 
       In front of the couch is a table with a plastic bouquet and a large bowl full of money - the latter seeming to beg the question that if you go to Mecca you become rich ?? right?  (or is that spiritually rich?)  A muezzin chants prayers and attendants of this celebration begin to come up and give him money, too; and more money with each prayer he chants (peer pressure).  Then even before he's completely stopped, a female griot decides she has to have her turn, and cracks into her 70's megaphone.  The first couple minutes she has no tone, no rhythm , and no style, its painful.  But then she works her way into  a song everyone knows and people help her out with the chorus.  I know its a welcoming party, but I've had enough.  I head out via bike to run my errands (i.e. things i cannot live without like pb snacks, bananas, and going to visit my favorite tailor).
       En route, I stop to visit Adrissa but see his door's locked shut (I call and he says he's on his way home).  I borrow a pen from a passerby and sit and write.  A group of marauding enfants runs up the street with homemade instruments of infant war - tin cans on sticks and strings with odds and ends on the ends that rattle when they drag them.  It looks like a fierce, ferocious, and rambunctious party - I'm thinking of joining them! A group of herons fly overhead signalling that night is coming. 
      A few hours later the motley crew of kids is still out making a commotion, partying without care under the light of the moon.  My friend tells me that when the moon's out like this, kids are expected to be out socializing  and having fun.  Not a bad way to grow up.  I walk down the dark street, led by the sound of the group, and over to give them a shout-out.  Keep livin' little ones !

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