lunes, 27 de mayo de 2013

Fatou’s wanderings

Author: Mariama Badji
Researcher in History of Social Communication
* Series: Stories about skilled immigration and foreign professional women

Shattered from the loneliness and weariness, Fatou was going back home after working as a cleaner for nine hours.  She had been working in a clinic for nine months. This job arrived as a blessing after several months of job-hunting. A friend who she met in the library was the one who found it for her. Even though it had nothing to do with her education and the degrees she had obtained with great sacrifices, it would help her handle her new life.

Today, all that Fatou could think of while opening the door was the silence that would wait for her inside. That frightened her. As soon as she went in, she noticed the incessant tic-tac of the clock. There was no laughter, no bird singing, nor any noise that one would find in a typical happy home. The windows were closed, the curtains were drawn.
Not even thinking of it for a second, she walked towards the windows and drew the curtains open in order to gaze at the garden.

It was a sad Saturday in November. Suddenly, she found herself shivering. She warmed up with her jacket, tightening it, and, absentmindedly, she gazed into the mirror and sighed. There was no way back. Back. Her memories are flowing.

She remembered that tall woman. She was always cheerful, with bright eyes, despite her difficulties and challenges, willing to fight for her people. As an assistant in a communication company, she worked in collaboration with important NGOs, as well as politicians and professors of the university in the capital city. She had participated in almost every struggle on gender issues and she had been extremely active in the fight against the genital mutilation, a plague that persists until now in the country regardless of its legal punishment. She cared about the most painful aspects of poverty and helped those people to achieve a more dignified future.

Fatou enjoyed every single achievement and arrived home tired but happy to meet her family – her children’s smiles, her mother’s tender gaze behind a quiet appearance, almost trivial, that camouflages a passionate woman; and her husband’s grumpy tone, worried about his health, encouraging Fatou to carry on. She felt loved by her family, by her neighbours and almost all her surroundings. Because the vast majority of them knew that she fought for freedom and good causes. The casserole’s noise disrupted her reverie.  

She woke up so she wear her pyjama on “wax patchwork” (this is a colorful fabric made in various countries in Africa) fabric. Her grandmother had given it to her as a present as soon as she knew that she was travelling to Spain.
Fatou arrived in Spain three years ago anxious to study, especially to improve her knowledge in the area of Communications. Thanks to her desire for perfection, she managed to surpass numerous boundaries in this alien country.

She adeptly practiced her limited Spanish in a way that allowed her to gain the respect of her peers at university. She had courageously confronted the ignorance of certain people about Africa. She learnt how to enter a pub, how to answer wisely to any sort of cruelty towards her. Yet she especially made really good friends. That prompted a better understanding of Spanish people and above all, facilitated her integration into a society that, at the end of the day, cared little about Africa and African people. Not only was her task to learn but also to show, through literature, poetry, dance and the joy, what Africa really was.  

Fatou, unlike most of her countrymen and countrywomen, used to go out to discover new places. She participated in several events and she had no fear in intervening and sharing her point of view. Because she was lucky to have grown up in an open-minded family, where both her mother’s and grandmother’s advice had always been –“if you have a dream, you need to protect it, keeping always in mind who you are and where you come from. Keep your eyes open to life and give always before asking for anything”. This is the reason why she would always answer to those who asked her why she travelled to Spain – “I came here to discover another reality, but I keep my roots strongly tied to my land”.

Her memories are flowing again. As previously, she was overwhelmed by happiness instead of sadness. Streets full of red sand from her grandfather’s hometown, with all those strong, modest women, and mothers and heads of family with very few rights. Greetings, laughter despite poverty, convinced that “in life, every single good thing comes out of a very little thing that grows afterwards; only misfortunes are born in a big scale”.

On this occasion, a song by “El Barrio” interrupted everything. She loves flamenco. Fatou carried the rhythm in her blood and she loved dancing. She had really liked Spanish music since first encountering it. It was an authentic performance to see her moving with the Andalusian rhythm, which made her younger neighbours laugh. She lied on the bed face up and enjoyed the moment… What else could she do?

Oh! By the way, the day after tomorrow is Monday and Fatou is having an interview in a very important company. She had prepared really well to face this new opportunity.
Determined to fight in order to smile, to defend her choice and to show that she could make it, she was certain that her horizons were newly broadening. Therefore, she decided to hold on to her memories preciously and carry on, since she had already struggled against her traumas, anger and phobias.

A smile floated on her lips, and when she overheard the clock striking midnight, she simply thought that somewhere in the world there was an angel that had approved of her decision.  

Brief career summary
Mariama Badji is researcher in History of Social Communication at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid, where she is doing her PhD. She has already finished her university specialization in Communication and Political Management, Communication and Armed Conflicts. Additionally, she has an active participation in various associations; she is the representative in Madrid. She is member of the International Observatory of Afro Women and she has participated in different conferences about gender, migration and politics.


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