One of the differences between the West and Mali is how we deal with emotions.
Even though not everybody in the West is feeling comfortable when someone cries, most people do understand that crying is a way of expressing ourselves and a way of letting go of things.
In Mali crying is a no go. ‘Monique, don’t cry’, is the first thing my friends tell me when they see it coming. Even though I am not particularly a crying queen, even every once in a while (which is way more than I’m used to) is too much for them. Yesterday evening, trying hard not to cry I got upset, upsetting everyone around me as well.
‘Monique, you’re in Mali, so you have to deal with things the Malian way!’ Well, it just always doesn’t work that way. Last week I caught malaria and at the hospital they treated me with antibiotics. Unfortunately I only found out about that when it was too late. Antibiotics do not only kill the germs, but my resistance also. So, instead of regaining my force, I have slowly been losing whatever little was left of it.
Luckily, Amadou, my guardien, is a wonderful person, who really cares for my well-being. And, even though he does not at all understand the differences between us, being a real Malian, he does feel like searching for solutions. Not in terms of talking about emotions, but in terms of how to solve the situation as quick as possible, because tears on a Monday morning do not at all bring any good luck.
No friends over here to give me a hug, to say it’s okay that I cry and that I do feel a bit lonely at the moment in this oh so different world. No friends around to talk to in Dutch or English to really explain how I’m feeling when it’s a bit tough. But at least I’m blessed with Malian friends who are willing to give it their best to comfort me in other ways. So today I’ll be eating chicken (not too much looking forward to it…) and hopefully Amadou will find me some iron tablets to regain my physical and emotional strength.
I’m feeling overly blessed with all the virtual hugs that come my way. Having said that, the reminder of the incredible power of a real hug makes me feel like crying… Luckily there’s no-one around at the moment 🙂