⌗AtoZ, 4th April 2020, D is for Death in the Family

Welcome to my blog Life in Poetry.

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Welcome to the 2020 APRIL A to Z Challenge

if you would like to know more about the A to Z Challenge, founded 11 years ago by Arlee Bird at Tossing Out,  read here

for my theme revealed , go here on Blogger

On WordPress, read here 

This Fourth extract from my novel in progress will appear near the beginning, still concentrating on Bartolomé , most likely.

Brief synopsis of plot and characters :

Mathilda, my first main character, is American and lives in New York City. She is a student at NYU where she is preparing a thesis on the origins and developments of African American Music. She is a first person narrator. Her timeframe is 2005.

Bartolomé, my second main character, is Cameroonian and lives in Yaoundé. He is a professor of Mathematics at the University there. I will be using a third-person omniscient narrator for this character but from his Point of View. His timeframe is the early ’90’s.

D is for a Death in the Family

Bartolomé is gazing out over the lush green hills and deep red of the beaten tracks winding up to the Observatory. the Summer rain has burrowed ridges into the road. They are shadowed like dark scars on the face of the mount. His grand-father died yesterday and Bartolomé is taking the train up tonight for the funeral and a final farewell, with family, friends and the whole village up near Maroua in the North.

” Your ticket please, sir, ” asks the conductor. ” Car 22 cabin 5, there you go, sir. “

” Thank you. “

Bartolomé is boarding the night train from Yaoundé to Ngaoundéré. First class with a double bunk cabin and a small washbasin. He was leaving behind the exuberant vegetation and soft hills of the South, the arbre à pain, banana groves and rusty wet earth. The air is very muggy, his shirt clinging to his shoulder blades.

He wakes up in sodden sheets, the morning light peeps in through the corridor from his right. He opens the shades and slides the window up, huming the cool dry air. The temperature has dropped perceptibly but he can smell the sharp lash of the dessert sands blowing over the peeled stretches to the rocky hillocks. A few cotton fields glisten dusty white away to the left. Bartolomé pulls on a tunic and trousers but keeps his jacket on for the moment. he will need to take a taxi-brousse up to Garoua and then another one to the Logone country beyond Maroua. His grand-father’s village is on a promontory overlooking a vast plane jutted with tall isolated rock formations,  with in the distance the Nigerian border.

The taxi-brousse, a Mercedes yellow mini van drives fast on the dirt road, cutting corners, avoiding potholes, swerving goats and suddenly breaking, sending the six at the back into the front bunks, Bartolomé into the dashboard and those on the roof, lolling towards the windows. Calabashes , grain sacs, earthen jars, packs swing about inside and out, chickens cackle in alarm, and the travellers fill the air with an endless flow of chatter. Men in djellabas , women in rainbow pattern pagnes.

Finally alighting, dusty and shaken, Bartolomé slowly walks up the hill in the now beaming heat. His bag slung over his shoulder, the glare playing on his hair, his feet tread the track, rocks and ruts, shrunken shrubs sprout from the borders. A speckled goat nibbles at the coarse grass and picks dim leaves from the thorny bushes. Grandfather is coming towards him, arms outstretched  and then the image disappears in the shimmer, evanescent. The memory lingers on Bartolomé’ s brow and he is transported back to that day oh so long ago, in another lifetime, when he came for his 11 year-old ritual ceremony, slouching back from the gué, a solitary fish slung over his back, the cane in the crook of his arm. His grandfather had welcomed him with an embrace and a desolate comment on the catch. The past image fades and he sees children running towards him, they take his bag then his knuckles in their hands, gathered around him, patting his arms and thighs. The eldest pecks him on the cheek. They arrive at the cluster of huts, a procession, the sun glancing off the leaf roofs, hotter and glinting in the straggly trees.

” Comment ca va ? Et Tata Nongo, Tata Muele, Tonton Amin and the children ? How they have grown. “



Bartholomew World Maps, Edinburgh .

The North between Nigeria to the West, Central Africa to the East and Lake Chad to the North.

Nigeria to the West

Nigeria, North West; Lake Chad, Chad; and Niger to the North

My photos trip through North Cameroon, Dec.’88- January 1989.

Yaoundé – N’Gaoundéré : night train. Garoua, taxi brousse; then Nissan 4X4 rented then and there.

27-29/12/88 : Garoua-Guider; Peske Bori; river Mayo Oulo, little Mayo, Foufouldé country; KOLA-Kaele; Doukoula-Kalfon-Yagoua.

Yaoundé seen from the Congressional palace (it nearly cost us the film and the camera);

Village Foufouldé and Cotton harvest.

Crossing the Mayo Oulo, not a drop of water in its bed.  Typical Foulbé village.

Visiting the canyon of Kola with our impromptu guides; Little Mayo, with water.


Kaele termites-Doukoula market-Yagoua

Thank you for reading. Please feel free to comment, like, dislike and I will be sure to reply. have an inspiring week-end. Clear skies and warm again today in Toulouse.

6 thoughts on “⌗AtoZ, 4th April 2020, D is for Death in the Family

  1. So when you are on your way to a close one’s funeral it doesn’t hit you. Id like to read what happens once he is there.
    I recall my grandfather’s death. It just didn’t sink in all the while I was traveling back. Once there it was different.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I spent a year in Africa. Travelling to Cameroon from Equatorial Guinea regularly. And 3 weeks in Yaoundé and the North Dec. 88- Jan. 89. Then another month exploring Rwanda and Kenya before coming back to France end of February 1989. We travelled again to South Africa in October 2005 with the three children then aged 10, 7 and 4; my husband, an export manager, was in charge of South Africa at that period. In 1987/88, he was doing his Civil Service, working in the BEAC, the Central Bank, instead of the army.

      Liked by 1 person

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