Friday, November 28, 2008
I met Mai on a bad week. Just days before, I was heartbroken to attend the funeral of a 21-year-old who died giving birth. It happens, and it's really sad, and it disturbed me to see how quickly people moved on. I concluded that they had no choice, but it had me in a funk for days.
That was the scene when one afternoon I stumbled upon this beautiful child with wide eyes and a strong grip, who can't talk yet, but who babbles enough that I'm sure she has things to say.
Bambara is sometimes inexact, and it took a number of tellings before I grasped the overwhelming nature of Mai's story.
Apparently within moments of giving birth, Mai's mother dropped her into a well. She fell about twelve feet, into the ground water below. Her mother left her there.
I assume it was minutes or hours, and not days later that someone walking by the well heard Mai crying and went to investigate. He successfully pulled her out of the well, and took Mai in as his daughter.
I took a few moments to ponder the odds of Mai's survival. From the fall itself, to the fact that wells are sufficiently full of chilly water that a newborn should either drown or freeze inside one, contemplating how she survived made my head hurt. With all that against her from her first moments in the world, she is a perfectly normal, beautiful little person. She now has a mommy and a daddy that love her, and one white boy who secretly plots to smuggle her home to America in my... er his... backpack.
The story is really no more complicated than that. There's not much to do but acknowledge how truly awesome it is and then move on.
It's true that life everywhere is often fragile, random, or cruel. But sometimes it's equally surprisingly and randomly resilient and beautiful. It's more magnified here, but the basics still hold.
I've had moments when I wasn't sure if I could handle facing that duality on a daily basis. Then Mai, the girl who was found in a well, came along and somehow assured me I would.
Posted by jamin