Today I got up at a normal time and already, at only 10:45, I’m caught up on blogs and facebook. It feels good, but strange. I have many things that need to get done, but I need a slow day, a day to recover from my week of training and child sickness and the splitting headache I woke up with. I’m not going to get this elusive slow day—today includes my first attempt at doing an English Club at the French junior high. But at least I get a slow morning.
Yesterday was an upsetting day.
First of all, I was reading the little free newspaper available at the train station—au fait, it’s called. I was turning the pages and came to a news item about Mauritania—how suspected al Qaeda members were being released. The picture caption said it was taken outside the French Embassy after the suicide bombing this summer (yes the same French Embassy where my children went to school, albeit the other side of it), but it wasn’t. In the picture was the body of our friend who was shot and killed by suspected al Qaeda militants this summer, although not the ones who were just released.
Nothing like idly turning a page and dealing with that.
In the taxi coming home from the train station on my last day of training, I see a commotion in the street ahead—I crane my neck and see a crowd of men and policemen standing in the middle of a 6 lane street, arguing. As we come closer, I gasp in dismay. There is a woman lying in the middle of the street. She’s on her side, and she’s not moving at all. I think she is dead. In front of her are two tangled motos, on their sides. It’s a common sight to see women on the back of scooters, clinging to their husband or brother who’s driving. Less common are two women, but you do see that. It’s also common to see accidents involving scooters since they tend to be in various states of disrepair and yet cut off large swiftly-moving vehicles with a sort of wild abandon that is almost poetic in its disregard of safety and common sense.
This woman is wearing a djellaba and headscarf. She’s probably middle aged, I guess, from her clothing and even body type. Her shoe has been knocked off; I stare at her bare foot with a terrible sense of sadness and waste. She lies there, unmoving, while overhead men shout and gesticulate, and round her on either side the cars and trucks and bicycles and scooters and vans whiz by, parting briefly around her like a river around a stone. She lies like a stone. I am sure she’s dead. My taxi driver is upset too and begins to pray, all mutters and “bismillahs.”
Donn doesn’t think she’s dead, when I tell him about it later to explain why I’m in such a bad mood. “I saw a dead woman lying in the road,” I shout at him. But he asks for details and points out that she was lying on her side, with a bag tucked under her head. “Was her head covered?” he asks me. It wasn’t, at least I don’t think it was. He’s seen that; a scooter driver laid out flat, jacket drawn respectfully over his face.
We end up quoting Bob Dylan…how many deaths will it take till we know that too many people have died? Because these accidents and deaths are totally unnecessary. Just a minor consideration for simple rules of the road would spare so many people, not to mention cars and animals. And I think of my own wild taxi rides this past week, and I am grateful because this could so easily have concerned me. I think of the scooter who missed us by centimeters on a foggy morning. We were just past the big mosque and the orange trees. He had a red light but had opted not to stop, and these scooters are ancient things, not much faster than walking. The driver wasn’t young and impervious, but middle aged, with grey in his beard, wearing a padded jacket against the cold. Why didn’t he stop?
In the evening, Donn has to go out. I make hearty curried lentil soup and cheese drop biscuits for dinner. Elliot complains of a really bad headache and falls asleep on the couch. He is sluggish and I have a hard time getting him to bed. I make the mistake of googling symptoms, and end up reading all about meningitis. Sigh. Never google symptoms—this should be tattooed on all newborn foreheads for their poor over-reactive mothers. I managed to get him out of bed by making these cheese drop biscuits for the first time (I added a soupçon of garlic and herbes de provence and a cup of grated Edam cheese, which is the cheapest and most available cheese round here. I modified Antique Mommy’s recipe, since hers called for impossible items like baking mix, and it was easier to make it from scratch than make a baking mix). He got up, ate a tiny supper, went back to bed, and was fine in the morning. Still, it added to my day.
The twins spent the evening bickering about their music book. They share a book, and Abel has lost it. (They are in separate classes). Ilsa was convinced she’d get in trouble, which is likely. Abel was convinced she was nagging him—also likely.
Ilsa told me she was going to bed, and would most likely be grumpy in the morning. I folded her into a big hug. “I love you even when you’re grumpy,” I told her. And then, thinking realistically about my own state, I said, “Do you love me even when I’m grumpy?”
She scrunched up her face, considering. “I do,” she conceded. “But I don’t recognize it as love when you’re grumpy.”
And on that note, we went to bed.