24 Jan 2018 Welcome to your life
05:00 – The call to prayer shudders you from your sleep, darkness still shielding the character traits of day from your greedy eyes. The “Allahuakbar” continues as you turn restlessly, taking this brief moment of consciousness to readjust the strewn blankets for optimal comfort. You lay back, the minarets concluding their call, and drift back to sleep.
07:30 – The gentle remainder of your sleep is interrupted by your pigeon friends failing to activate landing procedures as they crash against the tin rooftop. Jolted and startled, you groggily begin to get up, cursing those fucking devil birds all the while.
07:45 – You emerge from your room to a rooftop overlooking mosques and mango trees, the morning sun casting a dull hue on your neighborhood of compounds. You make your way quickly down the concrete steps, stepping into the vibrant epicenter of your compound. The sounds of your sisters screaming about who took their bread and Chocopain and the stern faces of your two host moms ushers you to your mother’s bathroom.
08:00 – With your morning ritual complete and your face properly washed, you greet your family, smiling while you ask every little kid how their mornings are and how their breakfast tastes. You’ll make your daily trek through sand to the Boutique, where your Aunt Yacine will hand you YOUR baguette with Chocopain. You’ll rush back, slurp down some coffee and prepare to start your day.
09:00 – You’re on your way again, trudging through sand and trash piles to your apprenticeship, a farm on the outskirts of Kër Madaro, where your coworker waits to greet you. He’ll smile and laugh, calling your hair ugly and telling you to shave while saying he missed you. You’ll get to work watering the papaya, tomatoes, and cucumbers while Mormado busies himself with the naana and the salad.
10:30 – The Morning’s work is finished and you’re on your way home. You’ve got no plans for the day other than to return to the farm in the evening. You’ll run into your siblings on their break at school. They’ll laugh and then return to class while you eventually reach the market, greeting your friends the fruit ladies in hopes of getting oranges for the road. You’ll arrive at home.
12:30 – You’ve got free time, maybe to shower or go hangout with your friends Babacar or Pap across the street or to sneak a nap into your day.
14:30 – Boom, lunch time. You’re going to your grandpa’s room for some ceeb u jen (Rice of Fish) with your uncle. You’ll mutter, “Salammalekum,” wash your hands, and take a seat next to the bowl. You’ll make conversation, telling your two uncles and your grandparents what you did that day and that you know different people in the town. Lunch concludes and you’ll wash your hands again to get the spare rice off.
15:00 You’ve got an hour of time again but this time the sun is peaking. It’s way too hot to do anything physically demanding. You’ll sit in your compound while your host mom comes back from selling creme. She’ll settle in for a nap while you watch your siblings.
16:00 – You’re off to work again, making the same trek you made in the morning, through the dunes of loose sand to the vibrant farmlands. You’ll greet your coworker again and you’ll do the same things you did in the morning, watering plants.
17:30 – The sun is getting low. You’ll get home, change clothes, maybe meet up with another fellow in your village or stay home and hang out with your countless host siblings. Either way, you’ll be laughing and joking.
20:00- The sun is setting and it’ll get dark soon. You’ll spread the bassan (mat) and maybe find a quiet moment to open your book or pick up your French notebook. Your host dad will be returning from his farm shortly and you’ll greet him with the Baay Fall greeting, your hand in his pressed to your forehead then his. He’ll smile his toothy smile and retreat into his room to pray. You’ll seize the moment and watch TV with your family in your older host mom’s room. It’ll be in French and you won’t understand much until they switch the channel to the Senegal TV station, which is all in Wolof.
20:45 – Dinner time. You make your way to the edge of the compound and squat with your father’s employees to enjoy some couscous with sauce. You’ll rehash your day yet again, illustrating dull events with flare and attitude. You’ll get up, wash your hands again, and go inside for another dinner of cooked rice with fish parts and peanuts. It’ll be disgusting and you’ll wish you had eaten more of the couscous but you’ll eat some anyway.
21:30 – Dinners over, your compound is settling in for the night. The final TV will switch off and the lights will begin to dim. You’ll bid your family a good night and retreat to your room. Your day will be over but you’ll sit and enjoy a podcast in your mother tongue, relishing the understanding that comes with listening to English.
22:30- Lights out. Your day is done. You’ll be tired and exhausted. You’ll think to yourself that you’ve come so far from the panicked child that arrived in Senegal in September. You’ll realize that you only have 2 months left here in this place you call home. It’ll hit you bitter sweet; you’ll want to return to where you came from but, at the same time, you won’t want to leave. You’ll sigh, share a brief and stressful thought about college admissions before opening your offline Spotify, clicking play and fading into sleep.