She knows about death
10:30 Sanata returns slowly from the fields where she brought food to Aglae, Amadou and the boys herding the sheep. On her way, she picked Kolobe leaves to treat her son Abassou’s malaria, which was diagnosed by the doctors.
Sanata is trying to save her last-born. She looks at her son Abassou with overwhelming sadness. He is a month older than 15-month-old Dialkaridia, the first wife Satou’s son, but he is abnormally smaller than his brother. His stomach is bloated and his legs cannot carry him. He cannot even crawl and hardly ventures a meter away from his mother.
Ladji has been telling her to take Abassou to her mother’s compound, a two-hour motorbike-ride away. Ladji’s cattle are kept near his mother-in-law’s house and there would be milk there for the child. Sanata’s mother would know how to care for her grandchild. Abassou is still nursing but has to make room for the new baby. Soon Sanata will go to Bla, the nearest town, to spend the last month of her pregnancy. There, she will be near a medical clinic where she will get help when she gives birth.
Sanata, sitting on the mat, looks down at her son lying across her knees. She caresses him and says,“Ladji is right, I know it would be best.” But she says no more. Sanata does not want to be separated from her son. She is afraid he will die and today she does not really want to speak about death. She has just come back from her father’s burial.
She knows about death. All of the women do. Satou and Sanata each lost two babies before their second year. And Made, Satou’s son, died at 17, just two months ago. He had gone to repair a family field well, took sick, and died. The well was closed, but this hasn’t eased the pain of losing him.
Just at the mention of his name, Satou’s voice changes to control her emotions. When asked how many children she has, Satou answers: “the dead and the living?”
Maybe it is because Sitan is the same age as her dead son that Sanata says she loves her like her own daughter and has made Sitan feel at home in the courtyard. Satou is a warm hearted person and did the same for Sanata. “Oh! I was so happy to see her, to have someone to share the work with.” says Satou. The three wives get along well. “We know how to live together as co- wives. Often, it is not so and women argue or ignore each other.”