February 24

I have five running lists in the back of my journal. One of them I titled “Things I Want to Bring Home”.

This list isn’t a collection of items I want to transport back to the States, but instead phrases and cultural customs I want to integrate back into my life permanently. I’d like to share one: muñyugol. This is a verb that doesn’t really have a direct translation but means roughly along the lines of: to keep living. It is most often used when someone passes away, but can also be used in times of a tiny crisis. For example when Kaw complained that there was no money for his sphagetti, his son told him: “Muñyo.” [Just keep living] Or just today when Harouna spilled the attaya, we told him: “Growel, muñyo.” [It’s not a problem. Keep living.]

This year has been all about learning how to muñyugol. I thought the verb most appropriate for moments like when there was a tarantula in my room, a ridiculous amount of patients at the hospital, or when I forgot my Pulaar homework at home. But as my home with my family and friends dwindled down, I am learning the true meaning. Last week my tokara’s son returned to Dakar, in two days my cousin and brother are off to University, in late March my two older brothers/neighbors are going home to see their parents, and soon I’m leaving too. It’s truthfully heartbreaking and completely out of my control. But the best thing to do is to recognize that sometimes there’s nothing you can do and you’ve just got to keep living. I don’t want my finals days and moments here to be covered in sadness but instead full of the happiness that has made me fall in love with Bandafassi. Muñyo.