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  • Annmarie Throckmorton, M.A.

Ramadan Begins Today

In 1980, when I lived in the West African country of Mali, I did my best to meet the expectations of the the Muslim culture that was imposed on everyone living there.  I am fundamentally a modest woman so it was no particular trouble for me to covered my hair and legs.  Being forced to do so and in heat that was often over 100° F was irksome but I complied unfailingly.  However, one day I was anxious to catch a soon-to-depart taxi brousse from the market in the capital of Bamako to go back to work in my village, and I errored.  The "taxi" was actually a ramshackle pickup truck loosely fitted with rough wooden benches upon which I would be crammed shoulder-to-shoulder, hip-to-hip with whomever was riding north that day into the Sāḥil of the Sahara desert.  It was a long, uncertain ride so I bought roasted peanuts to bundle into my handkerchief for emergencies and a small banana for breakfast now.  I was still quite new in-country and I was uncomfortable just tossing the banana peel...wherever, so I ate my banana as I hurried along, planning to toss the peel in a huge rubbish pile that was serving as a waste bin in the market.  From out of nowhere came a wizen old man, cloaked in dirty rags, cackling and furiously switching my legs with a three-foot switch.  It hurt! Some people stared but most turned away from me and my assailant, and I kept running toward the taxi.  I did not stop to discuss anything with my crazed pursuer.  A Malian woman caught my eye and gestured to my half-eaten banana.  I tossed the remains of my banana wherever and the goblin stopped switching me.  I scrambled into the taxi and tucked myself between two Malian women who scooched over for me.  The sanctimonious goblin stood nearby, panting but satisfied, happy to have imposed his religious will on me.  As it turned out the taxi stayed in Bamako for several more hours, until it was packed to capacity, as was the custom then and there.

 

 

Ramadan Begins Today

animation and image by Annmarie Throckmorton, copyright 2024




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