Domoda: Local Gambian dishes
Koriteh: The Islamic feast of Ramadan when Muslims fast for one month.
Munkoo: A mixture of rice, peanuts, beans and maize roasted and milled into an
easily digestible and very palatable powder that can be cooked and served as
porridge, or pancake.
Tobaski: The Islamic feast after the pilgrimage to Mecca when a ram is
For Fanta, everything was okay from the very beginning. She had lots of nice
clothes and shoes. There was plenty of rice to eat, and lots of meat and fish in
her Domoda, Benechin and Super Kanja. She was never hungry. And since grade one,
she attended Methodist Preparatory School. Methodist Preparatory was a fine, but
expensive private school. Every child in Banjul wanted to attend it, and every
parent whose children attended it boasted with pride, "My children attend the
Methodist Preparatory School."
But then Fanta’s pa, Amadou, who worked as a border guard in Basse, a whole
day’s journey from Banjul, fell ill. And they sacked him!
"He is no longer fit, and can’t guard our borders effectively any more," the
authorities said. "Let him do an easier job."
But they did not find him this easier job. Apart from struggling with his
illness, Fanta’s father also became depressed.
The small money they paid him as compensation soon vanished, nearly all of it
spent on drugs and hospital bills. So things became tough for Fanta. She could
no longer have nice clothes for her birthdays. Tobaski and Koriteh celebrations
became so dull. And the family could no longer afford meat and fish in their
dishes, which was becoming rarer and rarer. Most nights now, Fanta went to bed
without dinner and her stomach growled, and hurt her until morning.
But that was just the beginning of Fanta’s troubles. Not long after her father
was sacked, Fanta’s mother, Yai, fell ill too.
"And her husband is sick as well," neighbors and friends sympathized.
"Oh, poor woman."
"We must help Yai."
"Oh yes, we must. She is a nice woman."
And with their help, Fanta’s mother was able to continue her business of baking
wedding and birthday cakes and making snacks, which people came from far
distances to buy. The local people continued to patronize her too.
From her cake business, Fanta’s mother was able to support the family.
"We can’t afford to pay your school fees anymore," Fanta’s mother told Fanta one
wet, July morning as she prepared for school. "We will have to withdraw you from
the Methodist Preparatory."
Fanta couldn’t believe it, but it was happening. She bit her lips tightly, and
did not feel the fierce pain.
"I understand, mama," Fanta said after a while, rubbing tears. "Pa is ill, and
had just lost his job. And you are ill too, now."
"I knew you would understand," her mother said, hugging her.
After the third term exams, in which she came out 5th in her Prep 4B, Fanta
stopped school. Most nights now, she stared at the ceiling of her room,
"If only I could continue school."
She liked school. When she had gone to collect her exams report card, her class
teacher, Mrs. Mboge, had told her that she had ‘potentials’. She knew it meant
that she was clever.
And she was missing her friends too.
Then one cold, harmattan night in December, Fanta’s pa slept. He did not wake up
the next morning. That was when the neighbors and friends started talking.
"He died of AIDS," they rumored. "We mustn’t have anything to do with that
And whenever she went to buy something at the shop, Fanta caught people making
signs to each other and pointing at her, most stepping out of her way hurriedly.
The shopkeeper would not even let her sit down, or place her hands on his table.
He would bark:
"Lobuga? What do you want?"
"Sucre, benna mboose, balalma …Sugar, one cup please."
"Am, demal …Take, go."
When she looked back, after stepping outside his shop, Fanta would catch him and
others staring at her.
The neighbors then began another rumor -that her mother had AIDS too. They kept
their words and stopped coming around. They no longer came for her mother to
teach them how to bake tasty cakes and snacks. They no longer came to chat and
exchange news about naming ceremonies, and marriages and birthdays, or to invite
her to Confirmations and First Holy Communion parties. Nobody contracted her to
bake cakes and make snacks for these occasions any more.
Fanta’s mother became very lonely and sad. When next she became ill, she went to
the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital in Banjul to do a medical test. Truly, the
test showed that she was sick with AIDS. Fanta’s mother was heartbroken. She
told Fanta’s uncles the result of her HIV test, hoping that they would help her.
But instead they gossiped and told everyone else around the neighborhood. And
things got really nasty for Fanta. One day, she went to the neighborhood
"Let’s play ‘mangai nywo, daydit’ …hide and seek?" she suggested to the other
boys and girls.
"Chim! " one girl exclaimed. "Keep away from us."
"We don’t want to play with you, Fanta," another shouted, moving away from her.
"Our mama and papa said we must not allow you to come near us."
Disgraced, Fanta rushed home crying.
"Mama, no body wants to play with me."
"Even me, my daughter," Fanta’s mother replied. "All my friends have deserted
Fanta’s mother rubbed a tear.
"Don’t worry, mama. I will be your friend," Fanta consoled her mother,
forgetting her own humiliation.
Fanta stopped going out, except when she had to buy something at the shop, or go
to the Albert market for her mother. Mainly she played with her old dolls or
watched television, as they no longer had a video. Her father had sold it when
he was alive to buy drugs. When parents stopped inviting her to their children’s
birthday parties, Fanta didn’t let it worry her.
But then, her uncles became very cruel to them. By now, her father had been dead
just three months.
"Go away with your daughter," Fanta heard them shouting at her mother in the
sitting room one hot afternoon. She was in the corridor plaiting her doll’s
hair. "You killed our brother, you passed the terrible disease to him."
Fanta knew it was not true, and her heart ached. Her mama did not kill her pa.
She left her doll and ran to the sitting room.
"I did not kill my husband," she heard her mother wail, sick as she was.
"Oh yes, you did."
"Oh no, she did not," Fanta saw herself facing her uncles and shouting. Then she
rushed to her mother and hugged her.
Her uncles ignored her.
"That house you are staying in has been sold and everything in it too. We spent
all the money trying to cure our brother. Now you must leave our compound and
find somewhere else to live. "
"Why, why?" Fanta’s mother cried. "Please have mercy on me. Have mercy on my
"You want to keep shaming us?" they roared. "If you remain here, people will
stop speaking to us. No, you must leave. Pack and go."
Fanta thought her uncles were joking. But one night, they really showed they
were not. They held a meeting to which her mother was not invited. After the
meeting, they came to the house and flung them out.
"Where do you want me to go this cold, dark night with my daughter?" her mother
"We don’t care. Go anywhere you like. You sinful woman."
"Please uncle, let us stay," Fanta pleaded, crying.
But her uncles did not listen to her. Instead they called her a worthless child.
That night, Fanta and her mother left. Fanta shed lots of tears because she
would miss their fine house. Especially, she would miss her dolls. Her uncles
had only allowed her mother to take a small bag, and the small bag couldn’t hold
"That is all you are worth," they told her mother. "And don’t ever come back, we
don’t want you anymore. Neither your worthless daughter."
They found a place near an abandoned lorry in the garage to sleep. It was
Fanta’s first time of sleeping outside, and the blackest night she would ever
know. She was terrified as the dogs barked, and cats chased each other and mewed
angrily every now and then. Once, in the dead of night, a man came mumbling
loudly towards where they were huddled up, sleeping. His mumbles woke Fanta up.
Fanta threw a rock at him and he ran away, mumbling more things, none of which
Next morning, Fanta’s mother discovered that the bag containing all their
belonging had disappeared.
"It must have been stolen by that mumbling man," Fanta told her, and narrated
how she had flung a piece of rock at him, sending him back into the starless
night. After wiping her eyes of all the tears, Fanta’s mother took Fanta and
they visited some really nice friends her mother used to have, hoping to get
some help. But the friends wouldn’t have her come closer.
"Don’t come near me and my children," one of them cried. "We don’t want to get
ill and die."
"It’s so unfair, mama," Fanta cried as they walked sadly away, empty-handed.
"They used to come to the house everyday and get free cakes and snacks."
Fanta’s mother toyed with the idea of going to her family in Senegal, but she
was ashamed of her illness. And because she didn’t know how they would treat her
and her daughter, she changed her mind. Besides, she had no money to make the
five-day trip by road.
"Mama, where do we sleep from now on?" Fanta asked.
"God will provide my daughter."
And so, they roamed the street, searching. After several days, sleeping wherever
night caught them, Fanta’s mother found a dilapidated building, which had been
abandoned by the government. It was in Brikama, two hours from Banjul in the
crowded gele-gele bus.
Very poor people lived in this run down three-story building, but Fanta and her
mother were too exhausted to mind. Not that they had a choice. They just wanted
a roof over their heads. Luckily, nobody knew their story in Brikama. There was
a room on the ground floor of the abandoned building where junks like bicycle
tires rusted zinc sheets, broken bottles and so on were packed.
Together, Fanta and her mother removed the junks, keeping what bits they thought
they would need. And with time, this junk room became their home.
It was in this place that Binta, Fanta’s little sister was born six months
Two and a half years have since passed. Fanta has now turned twelve, but
already, she looks like an old woman. Her fingernails are stubby, from too much
scrubbing and washing of dirty pans and clothes. Her hair is equally unkempt, as
she has no time, or money to plait them. And she has no friends to help her.
She is also bent and tired, from too much bending fetching water, cooking,
sweeping, and gathering firewood. And of course, from carrying Binta, her now
two year old sister constantly on her back, scavenging for food in the refuse
dumps, just as she was doing this Friday afternoon.
"Who is that little girl and whose child is she carrying?" asked Mrs. Ceesay as
she purchased rice for the weekend from her favorite customer in Brikama market.
Fanta was upturning something wrapped in a newspaper at the rubbish dump.
"Her name is Fanta, and the little girl on her back is her sister," the trader
replied. "They live in that abandoned government house way yonder. Her father
died of AIDS and his brothers threw the wife and the kids out."
"Oh, fate can be so cruel!" Mrs. Ceesay cried.
"Now the woman is too sick to do anything and this little girl has to beg and
scavenge the rubbish heaps for their daily bread."
Mrs. Ceesay winced at what she heard, nudging her husband, who was carrying the
two heavy plastic bags of foodstuffs they had bought.
"I just wish I could help that little girl," Mrs. Ceesay, wiping a small tear
said as they rode home in a yellow taxi. "What do you think, love?"
"We will have to discuss it with our children," Mr. Ceesay replied. "If they
agree, I guess I have no choice in the matter. You have always wanted to adopt."
Getting their children to agree to have someone come live with them was not
"You will be doing a worthy thing,’" their mother assured them as they had
On Sunday evening, Mrs. Ceesay did some asking, and discovered where the
abandoned government’s building was. She was lucky and ran into Nurse Comfort as
Nurse Comfort was just leaving the rundown story building.
Nurse Comfort was a Home Care Nurse from the Anglican Church. She visited
Fanta’s mother once every two days. When Fanta’s mother was very sick like she
was these days, Nurse Comfort came every day.
It was Nurse Comfort who taught Fanta to be strong. She taught Fanta how to take
care of her mother and her baby sister. Nurse Comfort helped bath Fanta’s
mother. Other times, she helped Fanta to sweep, and helped her prepare a meal of
munkoo for her mother and Binta. Sometimes, Nurse Comfort looked after Binta
when Fanta went to fetch water or find charcoal to make fire. When her mother
was very ill, Nurse Comfort brought a taxi, which took her to the hospital and
brought her back when she got better. Nurse Comfort encouraged and prayed with
her and her mother even though they were Muslims and Nurse Comfort was not. She
was a Christian! Mrs. Ceesay and Nurse Comfort had a long, serious chat.
"The family is in a bad shape," Nurse Comfort told Mrs. Ceesay without mincing
words. "I have been thinking of approaching the Social Welfare Department in
Banjul, but since you are interested, I will put in a word, in your favor."
"What should I do," Mrs. Ceesay asked.
"Just come to the Social Welfare Department on Atlantic Road tomorrow and fill
out a form declaring your interest to adopt an AIDS orphan," Nurse Comfort told
And Mrs. Ceesay had done just that.
It has been three months since Mrs. Ceesay declared her interest. The Social
Welfare Department was taking their time. They wanted to make sure that the
Ceesay family was suitable for Fanta. Just as Mr. and Mrs. Ceesay were stepping
into the Social Welfare Department on this Wednesday morning to answer more
questions, Fanta was struggling with her sister, Binta.
Binta didn’t want Fanta to carry her. She wanted her mama, and screamed for her.
Fanta looked confused. It was one of those mornings that she hated. Outside, it
was already very hot. The school children wiped their faces with their uniforms
and fingers as they ran to school. The loud honking of cars and lorries added to
"But mama isn’t feeling well," Fanta said to Binta. "Let me carry you, please
She gave Binta a crump of left over Senfo, but Binta didn’t want it, and flung
it away, crying the more. Fanta didn’t blame Binta. It was two days now since
she begged that bread from the bakery nearby. Now, it was as hard as a piece of
wood and has lost its taste.
"Too much crying will make you ill again, please don’t cry," Fanta pleaded.
But Binta howled the more.
"Fanta, let me carry her," Fanta’s mother said weakly, and then began to cough.
"No, mama," Fanta protested. "You can’t manage her."
"I will try, don’t worry," Fanta’s mother, still coughing, assured Fanta. "You
can go for the water now before they lock the public tap. And please, before you
go, get me some to drink if there are any still left in the container."
Dutifully, Fanta helped her mother up from the mattress on the floor where she
was lying. She then folded the bed pad, which prevented the thin mattress from
getting wet with urine. Carrying the pad outside, Fanta spread it on a wall to
dry. Then she went to the water container and fetched some water. She made sure
she washed the cup first.
When Fanta came back from fetching water, she went out again to look for
charcoal to make fire. The women who sold the charcoal had warned her severally
to stop coming to the charcoal depot, accusing her of causing shortages for
them. But Fanta knew that she must get some charcoal if she must boil water to
make Binta’s breakfast of munkoo. It was the last bit remaining, and Fanta made
a mental note to remind Nurse Comfort to supply more.
"Hey, go away," one woman yelled as soon as she set eyes on Fanta. "We don’t
have any charcoal to give you today."
"Daily we incur losses because of that girl," another hissed.
"Police, police, save us, "another woman yelled. "This girl is robbing us of all
Fanta fled, but this was after she had grabbed a little piece someone had thrown
away, thinking it was of no use. To Fanta, everything had one use or another.
For example, it was the old tins that the men who sold tomatoes at the market
threw away that she used as pots. They were as good as any pot she knew. They
even cooked faster and she had to use less charcoal. It was also the entrails of
the slaughtered cows and goats, which nobody wanted and the butchers threw away
that she gathered and made tasty sauce out of.
By the time Fanta got back from the charcoal depot, her mother had rocked the
crying Binta to sleep, and had fallen asleep herself. These days, her mother
coughed all the time. But it was Binta that worried Fanta most. Binta’s life had
been a struggle. First, she had known no father like other kids, as their father
had died before she was born. And she had the disease too. Right from birth, she
was sick nearly every day.
"He caught it from your breast milk," the doctor had told her mother when a test
at the Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital showed that Binta was ill with AIDS.
Fanta’s mother had wept bitterly. There was no money to buy Binta the medicines,
which the doctors wrote for her from the pharmacies. Worst of all, Binta had
since stopped suckling, and only depended on the munkoo Nurse Comfort brought,
and what Fanta could beg, which was mainly leftover which people pushed to her,
or what little fruits and vegetables she could gather in the rubbish dumps.
Binta was so thin now that Fanta had to be careful the way she carried her, so
as not to hurt her.
Fanta often worried about her future and that of her mother and her little
sister. Even now as she prepared to boil water for Binta’s munkoo, fanning the
charcoal pot to start fire with the little charcoal she managed to pick at the
charcoal depot, she thought about it.
Having set the tin tomato pot on the charcoal pot to boil, Fanta rushed out. She
just remembered seeing some workmen offloading bags of sugar from a truck into a
"I may be lucky, and they will let me pack those that had spilled from torn
Coming back from the warehouse, she heard faint voices coming from their room,
just as she was about to walk in. And then, she heard Nurse Comfort’s question.
"Have you given any more thought to the serious discussion we had a month ago?"
"What discussion, Nurse?"
"About who would take care of Fanta when you are gone?"
It was a serious discussion, she realized. She didn’t mean to eavesdrop. And she
didn’t want to turn back abruptly, as they may hear her footsteps and call off
the discussion. It wasn’t often that Nurse Comfort had the opportunity to get
her mother to do serious talk.
"You know I don’t have anybody," her mother said to Nurse Comfort. "I told you
her uncles don’t want her. You have been there yourself to try to make them
change their mind and take us back, but they won’t listen to you. If Fanta were
a boy, maybe they would have changed their mind and taken her back. But then,
she is not."
Fanta nodded her head slowly. She now understood what her uncles had meant when
they called her, ‘a worthless child’.
"She is a nice girl, Fanta. I just wish I could take her, but I already have two
other orphans living with me, and my salary is small."
"You could still try, Nurse Comfort," Fanta heard her mother begging, and a
sudden cough attacked her.
"You must not worry yourself so," Nurse Comfort said, and her mother calmed
down. "However, I have some good news," Nurse Comfort continued. "But it all
depends on you. You will have to give the final approval."
"Just find me a place, any place where my Fanta will be safe. She needs to go
back to school; her life can’t waste because of him."
By ‘him’, Fanta’s mother was referring to Fanta’s father whom she blamed for
passing the disease to her.
"Don’t start again Yai," Nurse Comfort admonished. "I have told you severally,
your husband may have been telling you the truth. He may not have been sleeping
around with other women in his station in Basse."
"How else did he catch the disease and pass it to me then?"
"He may have been given an injection with an infected needle. Or he may have had
a nasty, little cut with an infected blade while shaving in a barbing saloon.
Didn’t you tell me he was ill sometime in Basse and had to take blood
"Yes, he was."
"You see what I mean? He may also have received blood that was already
From where she stood rooted to the ground, Fanta began to cry softly. It was a
cry of joy. She had always known that her father had not passed the disease to
her mother. Now she was glad Nurse Comfort had told her mother exactly that. It
meant that she would always see her father the way she had always thought of
him: as a man who loved and cared for his family. Why, her father always brought
her and her mother wonderful gifts from Basse.
But Fanta also cried because she knew what the discussion with Nurse Comfort
"Mama wants to send me away. She wants to send me to anybody willing to take
Fanta’s heart ached.
"The man and his wife are kind," Nurse Comfort went on. "They love children and
have two of their own, a little girl named Adama and a boy named Manga."
"How old are the children?"
"Adama is twelve, just like Fanta and Manga is only six."
"I hope they will not use my Fanta for a maid?"
"Oh they will not. I will make sure of that. In fact they have no need for a
maid. Adama helps her mother with part of the house work, and when the man has a
chance, he lends a hand too."
"Then why do they want to take my Fanta? Of what use is she to them?"
"It is the wife. She wants to help the less fortunate with what little they
have. And her husband supports her. This HIV/Aids disease is leaving a lot of
children without parents, turning them into defenseless orphans. She wants to
play her part as a responsible citizen, helping out the less privileged."
There was a great silence as Fanta’s mother thought about this.
"I will be back tomorrow. I am in a hurry now. I was unable to see my other
patient at the other end of town yesterday and must go to her now with her
drugs. But you need to make up your mind fast. The doctor warned that it would
not be long now. The results of your blood samples I took to the lab last week
are not promising."
"I know," her mother said. "It is this cough."
"Yes, that is why we must fight it. Now, take your drugs."
Nurse Comfort opened her purse and brought out the drugs for tuberculosis, which
was the name of the cough giving Fanta’s mother the most problem. The diarrhea,
Fanta could manage with the ORS, which Nurse Comfort left behind, and which she
had learnt to mix, but the tuberculosis…
"Fanta, Fanta," Nurse Comfort suddenly called.
Fanta jumped, thinking she had been discovered.
"Naam …yes Nurse Comfort," she answered.
"Come here. Bring water for your mama."
Quickly, Fanta wiped her face and brightened up. She deposited the small wrap of
sugar the workmen had given her on the floor and went to fetch water for her
mother’s medicines. Her mother took her drugs. When Nurse Comfort left, Fanta’s
mother closed her eyes and leaned on the cold wall. Fanta knew she was deep in
"But how come they didn’t have a discussion about Binta?" Fanta was thinking.
The water had boiled and she was making Binta’s munkoo in a green plastic bowl,
adding some of the sugar she had begged. "Binta is so ill. That woman who wants
to take me may have a kind heart, but will her kindness include taking my Binta
too? I will not go anywhere without my Binta," Fanta resolved.
And as she fed Binta later, she was overwhelmed with love for her sick
two-year-old sister that she choked with tears, instantly rousing up her mother
from her deep thought. "Why are you crying, Fanta?" her mother asked. It was a
"It’s because of Binta," Fanta choked the more.
Fanta’s mother jerked up instantly.
"What is wrong with our Binta?’
"I will not go anywhere without her, mama?"
Fanta’s mother relaxed. Mother and daughter thought their private, painful
thoughts. Outside, doves cooed mournfully. Fanta’s mother hissed after a long
"Did you overhear my discussion with Nurse Comfort just now?"
"Yes, I did mama," Fanta answered. "I didn’t mean to eavesdrop-"
"It’s okay, my daughter. Actually, I have been thinking of how to bring the
matter up with you. Now that you listened, we may as well talk about it."
"But mama, what will happen to Binta?" Fanta cried.
"Binta is very ill."
"But she is still my sister, mama."
"I can’t abandon her because she is ill, mama."
"Nobody has asked you to abandon her. But-"
"But what, mama?"
"You must know the truth, Fanta. There is no point deceiving you. Binta, and I
will not be with you for long. As you know, we are living with the virus, HIV,
which has made us sick. Now we are very ill as you can see. No money to buy the
drugs and food we need to stay alive.
"Thank God I let it be known on time that I am living with HIV. Though your
uncles said I brought them disgrace and drove us out, I have been able to get
help from people like Nurse Comfort who understands about HIV/Aids."
"If my uncles had supported you, mama," Fanta said, wiping tears from her eyes
and blowing her nose, "your cake business would have continued."
"Yes, my daughter. And I would have been able to afford more nourishing food to
help Binta and I fight the virus, stay healthy and live longer."
"And we won’t be living in this run down story building, mama."
"Yes, we would have been living in the house, which your father built with the
money he and I saved after struggling together for many years."
By now, like her daughter, Fanta’s mother was crying too, coughing every now and
then. It was a dry cough, which sounded as if it came from deep within her bony
"Nurse Comfort has been so kind. Revealing my status is not a mistake. It made
me know her. That is why I have been able to live this long, because of support
from nurses and other kind volunteers like her. With positive living, I have
lived long enough for you to know who your mother really is. And I have had the
joy of seeing you grow into a big, nice, strong girl too. I will leave you
happy, knowing that with Nurse Comfort’s help, you will be able to take care of
"My uncles don’t want me, mama."
"I am very sorry, my daughter. But you must forgive them as I have forgiven
them. One day, they may realize their mistakes and come looking for you. Then
you must accept them with an open hand and an open mind."
And both mother and daughter clung to each other and wept bitterly. Fanta’s
shoulders wracked with so much sobbing that she thought her heart would crack.
"You may bring the family who want to adopt Fanta," Fanta’s mother told Nurse
Comfort when she visited the next evening. "You have not even told me their
"They are called Mr. and Mrs. Ceesay," Nurse Comfort revealed.
"I already feel like I know them," Fanta’s mother said, her face brightening.
"I tell you, they are nice people," Nurse Comfort replied, happy at the fact
that Fanta’s mother had been brave enough to make a fast decision. "Have you
spoken with Fanta?"
"Yes, I have."
"And what did she say?"
"She is very worried about Binta."
"Yes, I know she will be. She loves Binta so much."
"I told her that like me, Binta does not have much time left to live. But she
wouldn’t take it. Where she goes, Binta goes, she said.”
"So what do we do now?"
"She will stay with us to the end."
"That may be too painful for her."
"She said she would have it no other way."
"She is a strong one, that Fanta," Nurse Comfort said.
It took Nurse Comfort three days to complete the adoption paper work at the
Department of Social Welfare in Banjul. A week later, Mr. and Mrs. Ceesay came
to the abandoned government building to visit Fanta and her family. They came
with their two children, Adama and Manga. Before their arrival with a Social
Welfare Officer, Fanta swept and kept everywhere as clean as she could.
Though the room was damp and had a foul odor Mr. and Mrs. Ceesay, and Adama and
Manga didn’t mind. Mr. and Mrs. Ceesay sat on a wooden bench Fanta brought from
outside, while Nurse Comfort and the Social Welfare Officer stood. Binta lay
sleeping on her mother’s laps, as she rested her back on the cold, unplastered
"Thank you so much for wanting to take care of my Fanta," Fanta’s mother told
Mr. and Mrs. Ceesay, smiling as best as she could and trying not to burst into
"It is nothing," Mrs. Ceesay replied. "I am sure you will do the same if you
were in our shoes."
"Fanta will not give you any problems, she is a good girl," Fanta’s mother
assured the couple.
"Nurse Comfort told us how nice she is," Mr. Cessay said. "I hope Fanta will be
happy living with us in our humble home."
"I am excited to have Fanta as my sister," Adama said, suddenly moving towards
Fanta and taking her hands. Both girls smiled at each other shyly.
For a long time, Fanta’s mother had not smiled, but now she smiled as her heart
filled with joy. She knew she had made the right choice to let Fanta stay with a
new family who would love her, like they loved their own children.
Before they left, Mr. Ceesay shook hands with Fanta’s mother, kissing her
lightly on both cheeks; while Mrs. Ceesay hugged her warmly, both women clinging
to each other tenderly. Adama and Manga also shook hands with Fanta’s mother,
and hugged Fanta lovingly, like a sister they had always had.
As they drove away in a yellow taxi later, Fanta waved them goodbye.
Fanta continued to look after her mother and Binta, nursing them tenderly with
Nurse Comfort’s help. She never stopped loving them! Things improved when Mr.
and Mrs. Ceesay began sending over warm clothes and blankets. They also visited
from time to time, bringing delicious Domoda and Benechin, which they all ate
However, it was not very long before they finally left her. First it was Binta,
and then her mother. Fanta did not cry too much now. She had since cried all the
tears she had, while they were still alive.
On the day Mr. and Mrs. Ceesay, and their two children, Adama and Manga came for
her, Nurse Comfort and the Social Welfare Officer came too. They had a duty to
escort her to her new home. For Fanta, it was a very difficult moment, leaving
the story building. The building meant so much to her. Though old and rundown,
she had come to call it home. It would forever hold a special place in her
heart, after all, was it not here that her mother and Binta, both of whom she
loved so much, had said final goodbyes to her?
But Fanta was determined to march on nonetheless. She was determined to forget
the past and make the most out of her new life. It was her last promise to her
mother, Yai, and to her little sister, Binta. Looking up, she managed what
looked like a smile.
"I am ready," she said to everyone. "Let’s go to my new home."