We have moved completely out of Podor. Spent one last night there to pack up all our furniture and remaining belongings. In early January, we had a falling out with our downstairs neighbor over a puppy. Paul and I took in a puppy with several dozen ticks in his ears and oozing eyes. We bathed him, de-wormed him, and nourished him back to health. Sinthiane, as we named him after the quartier name, only went outside for his daily walk along the river and to use the restroom. But as we were growing more fond of him, our neighbor was growing more impatient, urgently returning nightly to our landlord’s house to complain about how the dog violated the rules of cleanliness in Islam. He never once approached us about the issue. The landlord finally found a new home for the dog, but since this problem arose, I have not spoken to our downstairs neighbor except through his wife and little brother. Even after we gave the dog away, he would not talk to us. He refused to help with watering the garden as he had done in the past.
Now when I dream, Sinthiane is my symbol of loss, recurring only in dreams where I lose someone or something–dreams I have over and over again.
This animosity over Sinthiane still hung thickly in the air when we spent our last night and day there. We greeted them upon arrival and Saho would not respond. Even if Paul and I were not moving out of Podor, it would have become necessary to find a new house within Podor. Our relationship with our neighbor had deteriorated to the point that it could become a safety hazard. The garden was dead.
Jam tan? Peace only?
Packed up everything. That house has come to symbolize much of what has been negative of our experience here. Paul’s cough. The neighbor and losing Sinthiane. Calls with bad news. Frustration at work. The house is an enormous two-story house with a roof. Paul and I lived on the second floor and could look out over Podor from our ivory tower of American prosperity. The house was an iron cage with iron bars on all the windows–a place I both loathed yet loved for its ability to isolate me from Podor. The house itself arrogantly proclaimed to all our neighbors that we were more well-off and different. Something that our skin already said quite loudly.
At first I was disappointed to know that it would mean starting over again, but it now feels like a personal rebirth into Senegal–a revival in a new place. Paul and I can wipe our slate clean of everything that was negative about Podor and start anew in Ndioum. Not only is Ndioum primarily Pulaar speaking, but the town feels much more rural and approachable to PC work. I am extremely optimistic.
The quartier that we are moving to in Ndioum is called Sinthiane. Sinthiane reborn and found again. Maybe I’ll stop dreaming of loss.