I’ve always been one to have dreams in my sleep. I’ll remember some dreams the next morning and try to interpret them in search for meaning, others I will forget shortly after waking up, and every once in a while I’ll have a dream that I simply can’t forget.
Recently, I had a dream that I can’t stop thinking about. I can’t remember where I was, when it was, or who was there, but I can recall a simple scene and how I felt.
There was a butterfly flying at me. I knew that this butterfly had power from God and without any invitation on my part or hesitation on its part; it flew inside of me, through my chest, transferring its power to me. I remember my chest expanding and it was almost as if I could explode with this power. It was as if God himself had entered inside of me.
When I awoke, I started thinking of the power that I have being here. In deciding to come to Africa, blog, and share pictures with those of you back in the states, I’ve gained a power that allows me to show a different side to what you can see on CNN or any other news channel. I’ve also become a representative of our country, and have the ability to influence how Gambians perceive America and the people within our nation.
So what’s the point in me saying all of this? Many times, I’ve found myself in predicaments when I want to share information or stories about The Gambia, but I become conflicted because I don’t want the story to come off wrong, give false impressions, or my readers the wrong idea about The Gambia, West Africa, or the people here.
With that said, I have a story that I must tell, because it’s too good not to, but I ask that as you read it that you please do so with an open mind.
Mo Lamin is his name, running around causing trouble is his game.
The little man pictured above is obviously adorable, but sit around a compound with him for 10 minutes and you’ll find that he is quite the handful. He’s always on the run, and screams anytime his mom or sisters try to contain him. He wants to be free. He wants to explore. He wants to keep up with his brothers and sisters, and if something is going on he most certainly wants to be a part of it.
Hawa, his 30 year old mother, not only sees that Mo Lamin’s needs are met, but she also tends to the 7 other children in the compound, 2 that are hers, and 5 that belong to her co-wife, who has been away getting her teaching degree. Hawa cleans the compound, does the laundry and the dishes, fetches water, cooks, and looks after the children amongst many other duties, and she does it all with a smile on her face. She truly is amazing.
It was a night that I was watching Hawa prepare dinner that has inspired me to write. I had just returned from Basse with fresh vegetables to add to the nightly rice and sauce, a treat for the family and myself. Hawa had the vegetables soaking in a large basin as she was stirring the sauce boiling over the fire. Mo Lamin, naked as usual, was running/stumbling around and found himself standing in front of the soaking vegetables. I’m not sure if it was the sight of the water, or if it was just that time, but that little man bellied up to the bowl, arched his little back and let it all out. I squawked out Mo Lamin’s name, and with only a little left in his stream Hawa pulled him away from his target.
I wasn’t too surprised at the fact that Mo Lamin took a leak on the vegetables, after all, I’ve seen movies with babies, apparently they pee in people’s faces all of the time. More of my surprise was what happened after, which wasn’t much.
Hawa scooped up Mo Lamin, laughing at her son, shaking her head at what she had to put up with, and plopped him on her lap so he could nurse. The nursing continued for a good 5 minutes before he was full, which gave me plenty of time to think of what I’d be making as my alternative for lunch as well as a game plan for dinner. Urine marinated vegetables wasn’t going to do the trick. Hawa eventually emptied the pee water mixture from the vegetables, and I’m sure she cooked them to the point that no one would know the secret ingredient.
I started wondering about the food I’ve been eating and the possible secret ingredients it could have contained, and then thought further to what exactly is the moral of this story. Sanitation is an issue? Don’t sweat the small stuff? Boys will be boys? A little pee never killed anyone? You see there are many angles one could take when revisiting the situation. What was important for me was to remember my dream about the power that not only I have, but that each of us has. We have the power to influence others. We have the power to decide how conditions affect us, and we have the power to decide whether a story about pee soaked vegetables makes us disgusted or smile. I hope you choose the latter.