Sure enough I’d noticed that something was going on with Amadou and had asked him a couple of times over the past few days if he was okay and if there was something he’d like to talk about. Yes, he was okay and no, there was nothing he’d like to talk about were the answers. Over time I’ve learned that it doesn’t help being persistent or asking again. Sooner or later he’ll share it, or not.
Today over lunch it was obviously clear that he had trouble eating, fighting of the pain. There being a few other people around he admitted having an aching tooth for some days already. And he was even willing to show the aching back tooth, or at least what was left of it: a tiny little all black stump. I can hardly believe it had only been aching for a couple of days.
When I asked him if there’s a dentist in Ségou, he responded loud and clear: I’M NOT GOING TO THE HOSPITAL! Apparently there’s no dentist and as he added, he’d over the years removed two of his back teeth himself, without having any complications and he’d tried hard to take out this one himself as well.
It’s not the first time I’ve noticed Amadou’s fear for hospitals, doctors and medicines. He has heard too many stories of people not getting out of the hospital alive or with problems way bigger than the ones they entered with. Same for the products of the pharmaceutical industry, he has no confidence in those, it’s just plain poison!
So getting his tooth pulled out in the hospital was clearly not an option to be discussed. Me not being too good with facing people’s pain (it makes my tummy turn…) I ordered him into my office with a wide grin and a wink to the other people being around, announcing that we had serious stuff to talk about.
As they say in Mali: there are no problems, only solutions, so there should be a solution for this problem also. And there turned out to be a quite easy one: there are Chinese doctors in Bamako. They pull teeth and cure wounds with all natural Chinese herbs and substantial: Amadou has faith in them.
It didn’t take a lot of words to convince him; he is already on his way to Bamako, with a shortlist of errands to run, to take away his feeling of guilt for traveling all the way to Bamako, not working for a few days and spending money on bus tickets.
‘You see, Amadou, sometimes a solution is quite easy’, I said with a smile, walking out of the office, ‘If you’d told me a few days ago, you wouldn’t have been suffering that long!’
‘Monique, we’re not used to that’, he replied with a painful grin, refering to earlier conversations in which he, as well as Ibrahim, had explained that Malian men do not talk about their problems, worries and challenges, it’s up to them to solve it or to suffer.
But, even though they are not used to it, habits can be changed Amadou admitted..!