Sunday, 19 September 2010

A sorry tale

This is a sad story. It doesn’t yet have an ending, never mind a happy one. If you don’t like sad stories, look away now.

A few days ago, a heavily pregnant woman, let us call her Awa, turned up on the doorstep of the office where I work. Awa is friendly and we exchange greetings and handshakes, but as she doesn’t speak French (and I don’t speak much Dioula) I have had little chance to talk to her. However, the woman in charge of the office certainly has, and the story which has emerged is this. Awa is pregnant with twins. She already has 2 sets of twins and 2 other children – so this will make 8 in all. Her husband, discovering that she is expecting twins again, has thrown her out of the house. Worse than that, he has deliberately broken the water jar by the house, in which they store the cool water for drinking – and that means, apparently, that under no circumstances is he having her back.

They live in Bobo, but most of their other relations are far away to the north, further north even than Ouaga (which is 5 hours by coach). Anyway, now that he has broken the water jar, neither family will intervene on her behalf. Twins, as well as being more work and more expensive, are often considered a sign of bad luck.

Our kind-hearted colleague has been ringing around, trying to find some source of help for her, but there is not much provision for this kind of problem – it is expected that the family will sort it out. Meanwhile, she spends the day sitting on the terrace outside the office, resting – and at night sleeps in one of the rooms at the back of the office. As for what will happen to the twins, who knows?

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