To Everything

Janet Sebastian-Coleman - Senegal


March 2, 2016

February 9th

I’ve often lamented that I would not be in Senegal long enough to see another change in season. The start of the rainy season seems far more exciting than its end; I can picture the clouds rolling in, shadows falling across the brown grasses, my siblings suddenly jumping up and dancing, the first fat drop hitting my nose, then suddenly nothing but water, sheets and sheets of it and the rolling laughter of my family to match the coming thunder.

 

I won’t be here to see that moment. I won’t be here to see the burned land turn green, the corn stalks grow fat, and the rivers flow. I leave in less then two months, time is running short, I will not see the rains come.

 

 

But, my god, I have seen a lot.

 

 

I have seen the rains: my Baaba bowed in prayer as the sky flashed purple as the thunderstorm arrived at sundown, an open door framing the yard turning to a sea, the paths speeding under my feet as I rush home.

 

I began my year in a sea of tall green fields, with only the glimpses of gray roofs floating by. Neighbors that I thought were so far away then can be easily called to across the cut fields – I watch my siblings sprint across the field balancing glasses of attaya for Fatou and Assitou.

 

I’ve picked the full golden corn off the glowing green stalks. I’ve seen and eaten of the bountiful harvest of corn, peanuts, and okra. And now, I walk slowly under mango trees watching blossoms fade and fruit fatten.

 

I’ve seen babies only a week old, their eyes closed under heavy crinkled lids; I’ve danced in celebration as they were given their names. I’ve seen proposals and acceptances, marriages, and endless joy. I’ve watched bricks made by hand, plans laid, and prayers made for the construction of new homes.

 

I watch the mountains change every morning. They have glowed pink from the rising sun and have been wrapped in deep blue fog. As the rains ended and the heat grew each tree on the mountain became distinctive: three are white stars branching out round, at the peak there is the glow of red flowering trees, and a silent and strong baobab stands next to the cliffs.

 

I’ve seen the first day of class, when a meeting of teachers was broken up by nervous, smiling faces peaking around the corners, and ended in song and dance. I’ve watched talent grow with every lesson, and I’m sent away on a rolling wave of “Merci Madame!”.

 

I’ve gained siblings and lost fear. I am not called Toubab (foriegner), my name is Safi Ba, and to my siblings I am Diadia (Older Sister). I’ve seen Mari start her first year of preschool and demand every Saturday and Sunday to go to school. Everyday, Mari and Moussa now march into the yard singing “A Demain mes amis! En jango mes amis!”. Rama will read any number placed in front of her and my stumbling Pularr has turned to rapid jokes.

 

I’ve held hands in grief and joy. I’ve been called to come in and dance, and learned to accept the call to the fullest. I have been introduced to countless grandmothers, mothers, aunts, and uncles; and have shared loved with each one.

 

I have seen so many seasons. I will not see the rains again but I can’t even imagine the greater glories yet to come.

 

What a blessing to have seen the seasons I have. For truly, I know now, to everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under heaven.

 

Janet Sebastian-Coleman