Sinthiane

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There is an Art in everything.

I thought about it this morning when I remembered the genuine and beautiful invitation received from Abdoulaye. The most striking aspect of this man is his smile, it is a constant part of his face, something immutable. I met him a week ago during a flash visit to Nouakchott. As soon as Abdoulaye realised my uncontrollable desire to discover Mauritania, he opened his arms and joyfully said: Sinthiane!
It was spontaneously beautiful and I felt already welcomed.
Sinthiane is the name of his native village. It means “new home”. A home in the south of the country near the Senegal river.
Timbuktu (Mali), Gao (Mali), Atar (Mauritania) are legendary cities of the region which have inspired poems, conquests and myths but nowadays they are outreached. These anthological cities are more and more isolated due to wars and rebellions.
Abdoulaye’s invitation offers me some new opportunities of discovery. Like a great artist, he has laid before me a new canvas for my imagination and curiosity.
Soon, I will rejoice at my return to the desert and being welcomed by the smile of my new friend.

The Stone

I looked at him from afar, my first impression was the overpowering sadness coming from his being. I was intrigued to see this man carrying his desperation on this wild beach and on such a glorious day. I noticed that he was gently crying. I didn’t approach him to provide a polite acknowledgement or a comforting smile. His pain was the invisible guardian of his privacy.

Instead, I allowed my imagination to create all sort of reasons to explain his despair. Cruel game?

In all my options, I settled for the separation, the breakdown of his family circle. I supposed it was easier for me to imagine as I went through a similar road. I remembered crying very often under the shower while realising that it was my children’s bedtime. I was not there to read the short story that will transport them towards a night of dreams or plant the last kiss of the day: “dors bien mon amour “, validation of my uncompromising love for them. There was a time, I could have been this man.

As he slowly walked towards me, he picked some beach stones which he threw immediately back to the fury of the ocean. An act of deliverance: setting free his tormenting demons as far as possible. I stopped looking at him as it was time for me to be less invasive and more indifferent. From the periphery of my eyes, I noticed that he was looking at one stone, an ordinary flat, black galet. He was mesmerised by it and he held it against his chest.

I believe the stone will become a reminder of his pain but also the memory of his resolution to be happier and in control of his existence. He will travel through the next chapters of his life, keeping the galet in his pocket. It will be the receptacle of his energy, the filter of his sorrow and an enabler of joy. Ultimately, the stone will have to be returned to this beach, I pray that he will do it at the moment that happiness is more tangible for him. Happiness is not a phase settled in time or in quantity. The beginning of happiness is an impossible concept. Happiness is now… At the moment we are realising the sense of possibilities.