How to describe these days at the Clinique Les Berges du Lac?
Strange days in suspension, waiting.
Waiting for Keita’s results to come so he can be transferred to the hospital where his stem cell transplant will take place; waiting for news from Djenne: is the water stabilizing? Waiting for the supervisor to give us permission to go for a walk on the shores of the lake; waiting for the bland food to arrive.
Keita has had all the relevant tests and he is ready and in good health but there is no immediate space available at the transplant hospital. Every day we expect to be transferred. When this happens I will no longer be able to stay with him. But now during these days when we are just waiting we would like to be able to move in to Tunis to have a couple of normal days in a hotel and look around the city . This seems unlikely to happen. Keita is not even allowed out for a stroll in the roads around the Clinique without having a written permission from the supervisor, a lady bearing an uncanny resemblance to the matron in ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’. Every morning we put in a request to be able to go for a stroll, and by night fall, when it is too late the permission will arrive. I get angry of course, but the patient Keita tells me to calm down, it doesn’t matter. In any case he is the legal responsibility of the Clinique- if anything happened they would be answerable to the Malian Government.
So we stay here in the clinic and do Sudoku, read, watch music videos of stars that Keita like: Celine Dion and R.Kelly. I take the opportunity to practise my Bambara on Keita and on the other Malians on the ward. There are quite a few including Boubakar, a beautiful lively little 8 year old boy with cancer who is here with his father for brain surgery- he went in yesterday and his poor father was wandering around wringing his hands, stopping in our room for a while, watching some football with Keita.
We speak to Djenne several times a day of course. It seems that my absence may have been a good thing in so far as the other inhabitants of our neighbourhood have been galvanised into action since they realised that I would not be doing anything this time. A delegation of Peres de Famille went to the hotel the other day and spoke to Baba asking us to contribute to a fund to rebuild the road to make it passable again. So we did of course, and Ace has been overseeing the work which is still continuing. We have the whole hotel full this coming Sunday and Monday. The road should be mended by then, at least provisionally. But if the water still rises we cannot hold. The last couple of days it seems it has stabilized. But there has been serious damage in many places, and the Hotel Dar Es Salam which lies behind Hotel Djenne Djenno has been totally inundated we understand.
I went to the Cathedral on the Avenue Bourguiba last Sunday (see above) to have a little talk to St Christopher again: St Christopher the saviour of travellers and of floods….