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City of Banjul
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
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Echoes of Fulladu: Forging resilience from adversity

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In the hushed morning ambiance, Borogie’s request lingered in the kitchen, akin to a shared secret. “Nata, could you handle pounding the millet for me today? I need to quickly run an errand in the village,” she conveyed with a hint of urgency. The remnants of yesterday’s clash with Neneh Dado still echoed, prompting Borogie to find solace in the routine of daily tasks.
Nata met her mother’s gaze, trying to decipher the emotions behind her words. Before she could respond however, Matou, her younger sister, interjected, “Mom, I can handle pounding the millet on my own. Please, let me do it,” she implored.
Borogie looked down at her four-year-old with a smile. “Certainly, Matou. But let Nata begin, and then you can take over to finish pounding the millet to a fine powder.”
Matou, a bit skeptical, glanced up at her mother as she gathered the youngest child, Khadja Bobo, and secured her on her back. “Okay,” she responded. “Nata, you’ve heard our mom. Please let me pound today, will you?”
The morning sunlight filtered through the openings in the thatched roof, casting a warm glow on the clay floor. Nata, Borogie’s eldest daughter, nodded in acknowledgment of her mother’s request, her eyes expressing a mix of understanding and concern. As Borogie swiftly assembled her belongings, the weight of unresolved tension settled on her shoulders. Today held the promise of a brief respite in the village, a temporary escape from the lingering animosity at home.
The narrow path leading to the village centre wound its way through fields of swaying grass, creating a gentle melody in harmony with Borogie’s footsteps. The familiar sights and sounds of village life embraced her, offering a momentary refuge from the complexities of co-wife rivalry.
In the heart of the village, Borogie navigated through the bustling market, where vendors peddled colorful hand-woven fabrics and aromatic spices. As she exchanged pleasantries with familiar faces, her thoughts lingered on the events of the previous day. The altercation with Neneh Dado had left an indelible mark, a crack in the foundation of familial harmony.
Borogie’s destination was the modest stall of Aja, the village herbalist and wise woman. Aja, with her weathered hands and keen eyes, was known for her ability to unravel the threads of complexity woven into the fabric of human relationships. Borogie came to seek her counsel hoping to find a glimmer of understanding and guidance in the face of familial discord.
The herbalist’s stall was adorned with bundles of dried herbs and intricately woven baskets. A sweet aroma wafted through the air, a testament to the healing properties embedded in the herbs that lined the shelves. Aja welcomed Borogie with a knowing smile, acknowledging the unspoken troubles etched on her face.
“Sit, Borogie. What brings you to my humble abode today?” Aja’s voice held a soothing quality, inviting confidences to unravel like threads of yarn.
Borogie hesitated, choosing her words carefully. “Aja, the air at home is heavy with unresolved tension. Yesterday, after a clash with Neneh Dado, in which my husband sided with her, and even hit me with a cutlass, I felt an emptiness, a void I cannot explain. I need guidance; I need to understand.”
Aja nodded sagely, gesturing for Borogie to continue. As the narrative unfolded, the herbalist’s gaze remained compassionate and understanding. Borogie spoke of the co-wife dynamic, the complex relationship with her husband, Yerro, and the unexpected intrusion of discord into the sanctity of their home.
“Aja, I’m lost. Last night, Neneh Dado willingly took my place with Yerro. As I tucked my children into bed, I headed to Yerro’s hut, only to find them laughing together inside. The emptiness I felt as I walked back to my own hut was overwhelming. I expected anger, hurt, disappointment, but all I feel is this inexplicable void gnawing at my soul.”
Aja listened intently, her expression revealing a depth of understanding that transcended mere words. After a thoughtful pause, she spoke, “Borogie, the human heart is a complex lump of emotions. Sometimes, when faced with situations beyond our comprehension, it retreats into a space of neutrality. It’s a defense mechanism, a way for the heart to shield itself from the overwhelming weight of conflicting emotions.”
Borogie absorbed Aja’s words, a flicker of realization illuminating her troubled gaze. The herbalist continued, “Your emotions are valid, whether they manifest as anger, hurt, or this peculiar void. What matters is acknowledging them and allowing yourself the grace to navigate through the storm,” she said, her tone gentle yet firm. “Now, let us seek clarity in the realm of herbs and wisdom.”
Aja reached for a small gourd brimming with cowrie shells of different shapes, sizes and colours, as Borogie observed intently. Extracting a woven piece of cloth from a vessel filled with an assortment of materials, Aja delicately arranged it before Borogie. She cupped a handful of cowrie shells, meticulously selecting four distinct ones before offering them to Borogie.
“Reveal your intentions to the cowrie shells and seek guidance from our ancestors on the path of your life. Pose any questions you desire to the cowries,” Aja advised.
Borogie complied before returning the cowrie shells to Aja. With a muttered prayer and a spit, Aja tossed them onto the cloth and began to speak. She addressed the unseen forces with solemnity, “Cowrie shells, reveal the truth, guard against deception, and unveil the intentions and future of Borogie, daughter of Mariama Jawo, seated before me. Do not hide anything from me.”
With that invocation, Aja delved into her prophecies. Her initial words carried weight, “Borogie, a prolonged conflict looms, one where victory may elude you. Your rival has etched herself into your husband’s heart, a bond that will endure. This truth is immutable.”
Borogie’s gasp betrayed her shock. Aja, sensing her reaction, continued tossing the cowrie shells with unwavering intensity. “Yet, your rival will never taste the joys of motherhood; it remains beyond her grasp. The love of any child she bears will evade her. Her heart will belong solely to Yerro, a lifetime of yearning awaits her.”
After multiple tossing of the cowries, she redirected her gaze to Borogie, her voice softened, carrying a sense of gentle reassurance, “But for you, patience and persistence will blossom into abundant joys – a self fulfilled and a family cherished. Destiny’s course will lead you to unfamiliar shores, where you will carve your place. Along this journey, trials will test your resolve, yet these tempests will dissipate as your children mature. They will bless you with grandchildren, ensuring your twilight years are not devoid of warmth. Your legacy will flourish, nurtured by the unwavering strength of your spirit.”
Aja prepared a concoction, a blend of herbs known for their calming properties and the ability to bring clarity to clouded thoughts. As Borogie sipped the warm elixir, a sense of tranquility washed over her, providing a temporary respite from the emotional turbulence.
The village continued its rhythmic dance around them, unaware of the profound exchange transpiring in Aja’s humble abode. As the sage imparted wisdom passed to her by her ancestors and garnered from years of observing the intricacies of human relationships, Borogie found solace in the guidance offered.
“Embrace this union, Borogie, with unwavering commitment. Stand firm in your resolve, resilient against the tides of despair, and let not doubt sway your determination. Even if Yerro withholds the warmth of your shared bed, find solace in the embrace of your children. As you lay with them, weave tales of the wonders of the world, sharing the magic of nature’s growth, the splendor of celestial bodies, and the artistry of culinary creation from the bounty of plants. Should he spurn the sustenance you offer, recall the depths of suffering you’ve endured. Your father’s cruelty toward your mother was far more severe. In moments of adversity, shield your ears from hurtful words and avert your gaze from the anguish that may unfold.”
As Aja’s words settled into the air, she transitioned from her intense prophetic state to a more relaxed demeanor, inquiring about Borogie’s children. They exchanged small talk for a while before Aja quietly excused herself.
With newfound clarity and a sense of purpose, Borogie emerged from Aja’s stall. In her hands, she carried not only a pouch of healing herbs but also a revitalized outlook on the familial challenges that had weighed heavily on her. The journey back to the compound felt lighter, as if the burden of unspoken tensions had been momentarily lifted. Each step carried her closer to a renewed sense of resolve and understanding, setting the stage for the transformative journey that lay ahead.
Upon returning home, Borogie found Neneh Dado engrossed in her own tasks, the remnants of yesterday’s conflict hanging in the air like dissipating clouds. Borogie approached with a calm demeanor, a residue of the wisdom she had gleaned from Aja.
“Neneh Dado, can we talk?” Borogie’s voice held a gentleness that echoed the newfound understanding within her. The request was met with a hesitant nod, and the two co-wives retreated to a quiet corner.
In the sacred space of conversation, Borogie and Neneh Dado began to unravel the threads of their differences. The exchange was not without its challenges, but the undercurrent of shared humanity bridged the gap that had widened in the wake of the previous day’s confrontation.
As the day unfolded, Borogie and Neneh Dado navigated the intricacies of communication, recognizing the importance of empathy and vulnerability in healing familial wounds. The evening sun cast a warm glow over the compound, a symbolic embrace of the renewed harmony that slowly but steadily found its way into their shared existence.
The following days saw a gradual transformation within the compound. Borogie and Neneh Dado, guided by the wisdom of Aja and the shared journey of coexistence, worked towards rebuilding the bonds that had momentarily frayed. The echoes of yesterday’s discord began to fade, replaced by a newfound understanding and a commitment to navigate the complexities of their intertwined lives with grace.
In the quiet moments between daily chores and shared responsibilities, Borogie found solace not only in the tangible wisdom of healing herbs but also in the intangible strength derived from embracing the complexities of the human heart. The compound, once veiled in tension, emerged as a haven of resilience, where the echoes of discord were transformed into the harmonious melody of shared understanding.

To be contd.

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