Feeling a part of something is a high in itself, and recently I peaked in a situation that I’ve never experienced before. Earlier today I worked with my uncle in the local cemetery. This is no ordinary cemetery though; what’s
special about this cemetery is that it has both Catholic and Muslim family members in it. Tourists come from all over Europe and even America to visit my village, due to the sense of unity the burial ground evokes. Oh, also due to the amazing view the two recently developed bridges adjacent to the cemetery provide. To be honest, I’m not entirely sure if other villages combine the dead of different religions. In Dakar, I know for a fact that they’re separated, but in my beautiful town of Fadiouth, they’re buried side by side and with that a sense of peace and tranquility floated through the air.
But back to the topic at hand, the reason why I felt more connected with Fadiouth is because today, all of the males, both young and old, went over to the cemetery and uprooted all the weeds. I understand that this sounds like trivial work, but you should’ve seen the weeds for yourself. Before today, the cemetery looked abandoned. If you had not known about all the everlasting sleepers that inhabited this mini island, it would look more like a forest with cross shaped rocks barely poking out; beckoning for air and to be seen and respected by those who passed through. So that morning myself and many others granted their wish and went to work. Within an hour and forty-five minutes the cemetery was renewed. The grave marks were visible and the beautiful shells lining the ground now shone brightly for everyone to see.
Those who helped were in a joyous state of mind. Most, myself included were smiling and joking, tickling each other with the weeds, as if flies or mosquitos had landed on their neck to take a bite. Others hummed or sang softly to themselves and some even danced. This quickly led to someone tripping and falling over a grave, leading to more laughter from all.
In the end, this laughter is what concluded a hard day’s worth of work with my people. Yes, MY PEOPLE. I know I’m not Senegalese, nor do I have any descendants that come from Fadiouth, but everyone on the island is not related and that doesn’t mean they are not family. For me, yes, the language barrier is still exponentially high. But the wall between me being a foreigner and an outsider is quickly crumbling and what I’ve begun to call “ma maison”(my home) is starting to have a personal meaning behind it, rather than being another, overused word in my limited French vocabulary.