A little boy is running as fast as his short legs can go, while calling my name again and again. His big brown eyes express a mixture of pure surprise, happiness and disbelieve. Even though I am on the back seat of Ibrahim’s motor, little Mohammed grabs my hand and runs along. Luckily Ibrahim had slowed down the instant he saw Mohammed running towards us, followed in his footsteps by a small crowd of youngsters. Most of them from the area where we had our B&B till early February this year. They have obviously not forgotten about me and are excited to see me.
It was our first tour into town, after having arrived in Segou the evening before.
The devout Muslim, sitting in front of his courtyard counting the beads of his chapelain for hours and hours every day, usually friendly nods his head, bringing his hands together before his chest when I pass by. This time he jumps from his chair to shake my hand. With tears in his eyes, he brings his hands upwards, thanking the lord that I am back in Segou
A friend of Ibrahim, who regularly pays a visit to his shop in the town centre, has forgotten all about his habit of not shaking my hand (me being a non-Muslim woman). I have encountered him about three times over the past few days and he has happily shaken my hand on every occasion.
Little Mohammed has often run upon seeing me, but in the beginning it wasn’t towards me. He was scared to death by my pale skin. Many of the neighborhood girls and women thought it very amusing to force him towards me and he has cried his eyes out time after time. Finally they stopped pushing him. Month after month passed by and bit by bit his fear ebbed away, until one day he came running towards me the moment I opened the gate to jump into my arms to be hugged.
Mohammed is not the only one being happy that I am back in town.
I am too!