The dawn breaks, full of promise. A hoarse rooster begins his morning calls, the doves shake themselves to drive away sleep from their feathers and a cuckoo takes off singing to call a female hidden in a nest. The man is cold this morning, he puts a wool cap on his head, a cap that one day had to be white, his thread barren old shirt with the logo “The Lakers” on the front, too big for him, in any case, but enough to keep warm. He harnesses the cantankerous old donkey to the cart where the right wheel seems to have lost its usefulness. In the cart, he had his big metal can and several plastic containers in which, one day, contained gasoline. Then, slowly, he sets out on the path for the dam. He travels through the narrow streets, greets his kind neighbors, exchanges a few words about the health of the Grandma, then continues on his way.


By now the sun is fully awake. Not too high in the gray sky, but high enough to begin to require the man to take off his sweater. He had fallen asleep at the slow pace of his donkey and the chaos on the road along the way. That doesn’t really matter anyway, since the animal has taken and retaken this path since the beginning of time and it would go alone, with or without the cart, with or without the man, toward the small dam hidden in the bush. When he gets there, other carts are already parked along the water. The dam is almost dry. The rainy season is just a memory. African sparrows drink and the pigs wash themselves. Our friend will stop coming to this watering hole, it will soon be useless. Then he will sink further into the bush, beyond a day of walking to find clear water and even sometimes green.

 He needs this water to water the vegetables he grows close to home, on a plot of land that his “elder” left him before dying of fatigue. He must hurry because it is not good to water when the sun is too hot. He planted many green salads, a few tomato plants, zucchini, cucumbers, cabbage and okra for the sauce. All this, his wife will sell at the market in a few days, when the beautiful vegetables have reached the required maturity. When he has harvested his crop, he will plant again his precious seedlings he has prepared for several weeks. The garden is protected from grazing animals by thorny bushes and, well, it works.

vegetable garden

The day comes to an end. Our man is tired, his back hurts. The cans and jugs are empty, the vegetables have been able to drink, the donkey is sleeping and it is time to go back to swallow a frugal meal. But not without going to his friend Fula, located in the village for too long to remember. Fulani is known for tea made in the manner of desert people, according to a precise ritual and secular. Then at dusk, under the old cashew, we sit on small wooden stools, and talk till late in the night, we complain a lot and we laugh most of all. And we drink tea, rather sip it. At first it is extremely strong and bitter, then gradually as we add water and sugar, it softens. Tea cups are passed from hand to hand, ensuring that everyone has had thier share of the precious beverage.


It’s getting late, we must return home. Tomorrow at dawn he will tie up the donkey to the cart and return to the dam as there is still a little water. After that there will be another story. At least until one day someone would like to drill a water-well in Bouassa. Who knows?



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