⌗AtoZ Challenge, 15th April 2020, M is for Mathilda in New York

Welcome to my blog Life in Poetry.

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Welcome to the 2020 APRIL A to Z Challenge

Half-Way there, Hang On.

Quote of the Day : happiness and satisfaction must come from within. It is a mistake to think it could ever come from money or technology.

Dalai Lama, Gyatso Tenzin, (1935- …)

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 

Q will be a day to answer all your questions on my novel in progress, so feel free to write them down in your comment, on any day till then. On the 20th April, I will compile all the questions and answer each one on my Q post.

My Twelfth extract will appear towards the beginning of the novel. This will be the first encounter with Mathilda.

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. In my previous extracts, Mathilda has travelled to New Orleans, Jekyll Island and Hattiesburg.

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 narrator for this character from his Point of View. His timeframe is the early ’90’s. In my previous extracts, Bartolomé has made a trip up North for his grand-father’s funeral and decided to leave Yaoundé behind for good.

Mathilda in New York City

I am looking over the Western Entrance to Central Park from my 9th story window. I can distinguish among the branches, a few early joggers weaving between the lake and slick boulders. It rained heavily last night and the sky drips mist, dampening the crisp autumn colours of the leaves that glisten feebly in the shy morning sun.

Double crochet and 3 by 4 rhythm. Music transcript analysis. How boring. My least favourite minor at NYU. At least I now have my plan all cut out for next year’s thesis : The Cradle of Jazz. I will be taking advantage of the next Spring Break to go down South and collect data, finally doing some field work. I am so excited. Winter will be very long and tedious this year.

I slam my folder shut and push back my chair, my hair. I grab my suede jacket and clatter down the stairs, stuffing my keys in my jeans. As I rush across Amsterdam Avenue, I’m honked by a yellow cab. Once in the park, I stroll down the macadam path to the small esplanade overlooking the Conservatory Gardens, far from the joggers, cyclists and boom carriers.

The soft beat reaches me just when I stumble on the group behind a shrub. Three tall and stunning-looking Africans in long tunics are tapping intent on goat-skinned drums, toes tapping the soles of their leather sandals. Tam’ em ti tum. Their long fingers seem barely to touch the surface, stroking the tuff of goat hair still crowning the rims. The one in the ochre shirt lifts his eyes and smiles at me.

” Bonjour ma belle, ça va ? ” A deep warmth glows from his features.

” Hi, moi pas parle French, ” I say sheepishly.

” C’est pas grave, on a la music.”

So I listen and am captured by their hands, the swaying of their hips, the beat of their feet. The tallest one in bright patterned colours looks at me through eons, his eyes breathing wisdom.

” T’es d’ où ? ” asked the first one.

” Sorry, “

” Where you from ? “

” Harlem, ” I reply.

” Nous , Sénégal.”

Next to the drums they are playing is a magnificient instrument with strings. I ask,

” What’s that ? “

” a Kora, special Sénégal.”

Back at my room, I dial GrandMa’s number.

” Hello, is that you dear ? “

” How did you guess ? “

” Oh, you know me.”

” I wanted to ask you a favor. Could you tell me more about GrandPa’s family down South.”

” Sure Honey, come over Saturday afternoon, I’m making blueberry pancakes.”

” Great, thanks GrandMa.”

” Anytime for my sweet Mathilda.” ©susanbauryrouchard

Senegalese and Malian Artists, Kora and Ngoni music, listen and watch here

Baaba maal, YELA, 1992, here

Michel Jonaz, Jouers de Blues, 1981, live TV show, watch and listen here

and  lyrics here

Charlélie Couture, Tchao Pantin, 199 , film extract with Coluche, watch and listen here

Alain Souchon, On Avance, 1983, with lyrics, here

Bria Roche, Baby Come Over, 2016, here

                      Disco, here


One of the rare woman players : Sona Jobarteh

Our photos, New York, July 2013.

The house in 2013, where I grew up in Staten Island (1966/71)

View from Staten Island Ferry

Thank you for reading. Congratulations you’re half-way through. keep being inspired.

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