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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dog Fightin’s Not Just for the Painfully Wealthy Anymore

Its noon. I woke early, had coffee, wrote happy and healthy letters and felt the good cleansing that comes with lovely, life giving rainshowers and their talking clouds. I took Wurdia water, got my own and now find myself making oolong tea to simulate the comfort found in Chinese Food on gloomy days. I think I’ll pack for Kita and for my trip with Megan Pilli for the 4th of July and I’ll nap and just be here today.

(talking about East of Eden)
This book takes a hold of your soul.
I miss my brother. Bubba. Sky. Skylar.
I miss hugs and snuggling toes under warm blankets while on couches.
I know I’ll miss the time alone, the contemplative hours, passed to sit and
to think and to calculate.
But I miss the reality and physicality and beauty of love. Now. More.
. . . . . . . . . . . .

(in bold, blocked, angry, fat letters)
I just watched in terror as 6 or 7 boys initiated a dog fight, a brutal, to the death dog fight. They brought two packs together with trickery; I watched this as I walked along the main path to Wurida’s house to return my lunch dish. They swung at the dogs, growling and viciously trying to stand their ground, giant sagging nipples flying and flopping, tagged ears bloody and flies buzzing. They beat the dogs to entice anger, they beat them with sticks and with fear-filled kicks, laughing and smiling and cried to me, in one horrid breath the one thing they learn in 7th grade, “hello-sir-how-are-you-I-fine-thank-you.” They squawk this at me when they are feeling tall, when they are feeling undoubtedly wrong. I stood shaking, shocked and scared, tears welling up as pups and puppies fought for their lives against bigger fuller dogs with razor teeth. They were pushed against a hut wall, curved in its circular shape, trying to run, forced into the dirt and onto their backs. Puppies.
I screamed, wailed at them to stop. Stop this. They saw my tears and laughed. It was a gloomy day, the rain had quit but the gray clouds hung around for atmosphere. They only stopped when Karim, the village tailor, heard me crying; obviously he thought I was being bit by the dogs. My brink-of-tears scream was heard by many; they popped their faces out to see what the fuss was about, and popped them back into their huts seeing it was just Oumou crying in the street. Figures.
I gave Wurdia her bowl.
I walked home and broke into a panic, heaving, shaking cry.
Karim scolded the boys, he said they should not dog-war in the street and they should not scare the white girl.
There was no word of the inhumanity, the cruelty, the indecency, the evil or the disgust or the pathetic thing. But because motorcycles couldn’t pass easily and Oumou doesn’t get it.


Puppies whined away, bloody, as I had to walk back through their nasty wolf-packs and try to hold my tears in. Try not to turn on them with their own sticks. Try not to be me.


JesusGodDamnIt. Why do I care what these filthy little boys think? Why does it hurt the soul to be laughed at when you are trying so so hard? Why would they want their dogs to shed blood? Why do I listen to this bullshit, these warring dogs, these puppies crying, these toddlers being beaten and whipped and why do I do NOTHING?
Fear? Embarrassment? What the hell is it? Anger is building, exhaustion and disgust.

. . . . . . . . . . .

1 comment:

Emily said...

Dear Sydney,

We don't know each other, but I stumbled across your blog today and was really interested to read about your experiences and your struggles. I've spent 14 months in Mali, in two different trips, and I can relate to a lot of your stories. I've smiled to think of the tea you're drinking and the rains you're loving, and I've shuddered to hear your stories of violence, loneliness, and having your tears laughed at.

I wrote an essay on the violence I saw in Mali and how I never understood how to respond to it in Mali as a toubabu. If you're interested, here's the link to the essay: I can so relate to your story about hearing the dogs beaten, yelling for them to stop, and having the community react to you and your tears but not the violence itself. It's so disheartening. Allah ka nogoya ke.

Best of luck to you in your adventures and your work. Allah ka su here caya!

-Emily (aka Fanta Traoré) :)