In the Yard
The blood is pouring into a bucket, and then gushes in a final surge. I step aside because I think it is coming past the bucket and onto my feet, but it doesn’t. I’m staring at the blood, transfixed in some kind of surreal reality. I’m feeling detached yet present. I become acutely aware of how very quiet it is. The knife with strong cuts has cleaved open the sheep’s throat, sacrificing it. It goes quietly and lies quietly still……
The Ngeuwel tells me to roll up the window. We turn off the main road onto a smaller one that runs along the yard. Immediately everything becomes very hectic. I understand now why he has told me to roll up the window. Beggars run along side the taxi desperate, hanging on, heads through his window. We turn right into the yard itself, the beggars do not follow.
As we walk my eyes do not leave the path. I am staring at the hooves and horns of sheep and goats that have been discarded there. Bits of bloody hide mixed with dirt.
I’m afraid to look up~to see what else could be in this place. The ground is black, the black of old blood. I am conscious of my white-ness. I thought we were going to a shop but this is something different. Thione and I are Technicolor in contrast. It’s a shanty of death.
A small hill curves up to the left and at the top we stop at a shack. In front, a guy is holding fresh skins, while another is stretching the hides in the dirt by pounding nails in at the edges. I try not to stare. The skins are still wet.
We greet and are invited to sit in the shack to wait.
Flies… flies…. and more flies….. Attaya (tea) boiling and more dripping skins. Sheep and goats bleating, hawks and vultures in the distant sky circling. Fulani men making deals. Others pass by with potty pots, grubby. They must piss in the back behind the shacks. Everything is black, like creosote, hanging on the table black and grimy.
Just there next to the drying skins sheep bed down and chew cud, goats frolic. A few butt heads. It dawns on me that they are not aware of the death around them. I listen for screaming but it is quiet. So quiet.
The flies are on me now. They’re getting to me. We’re waiting a really long time.
Finally, a car rolls up and Ousmane steps out pristine in BouBou and Ray Bans. Greetings and a bit of business deal. I take pictures of Thione and Ousmane and then Ousmane goes to pick a tender one. I divert my eyes. I am not ready to feel this.
The sheep is on the table they are holding it; the knife. I have been asked to take pictures. I am snapping pictures with the lens cap on. I have left my body by now.
Back at the house we share the meat on the bone and again later, marinated, with the whole family.
I am drained, and utterly exhausted but I understand something now even though I can’t put my finger on what it is. The intangible, a blessing.
I saw it in the rush of blood.
::by lynette wich