post by Lynn
A few of us Peace Corps trainees had joined Seth and Adam, two of our trainers, and the Malian language teachers to take Arabic tea beneath an acacia tree. The western sky was showing off in streaks of oranges and reds and the air was cooling from its hundred-degree-heights.
I was beat. I’d spent all day trying to speak French and Bambara, learn the customs of Mali and construct clay stoves.
No amount of caffeine was going to keep me going, so I slipped out of my chair, stepped into the darkness and turned for home, or in this case, for my room at the Keita family compound.
“Not so fast,” Seth’s voice followed me into the dark. “You can’t do that.”
“Can’t do what?” I tried to sound innocent.
“Can’t just leave like that.” Adam chimed in. “It’s incredibly rude. You’ve got to say a good goodbye.”
I hate goodbyes. I always have. At parties in college I’d just disappear and the next day my friends would say, “Hey, where’d you go? You just left.”
Yeah, I just leave. I’m an introvert, and while I can’t always avoid a public entrance, I sure as hell can attempt to escape unnoticed.
Sometimes I’m even plotting my exit when I first arrive at an event, looking for the back door, parking where I know I won’t be spotted as I drive away.
Well, damn it all, Seth dragged me back into the circle and made me do the traditional Malian leave-taking routine which begins with an announcement to the group of N taara (I’m leaving), followed by a hand clasp with each person.
Who’d say: K’an bu fo. (Greet the people for me.)
To which I’d say: U n’a men. (They will hear it.)
To which would be added: K’an be somogo fo. (Greet your family for me.)
To which I’d say: U n’a men. (They will hear it. Although they wouldn’t because my family was a world away, back in the states.)
To which they’d add: Allah k’a su here caya. (May God grant you a peaceful night.)
To which I’d reply: Amina. (Amen.)
This exchange for every person present! Ack!
Do you see why I wanted to sneak out?
But I do get it. It’s not very polite to just slip away. Kind of a jerky thing to do, actually.
So while I entertained the thought of letting Susan handle the final post for the Writing Wyoming blog, I remembered Adam’s words: You’ve got to say a good goodbye.
Okay. I’ll try.
Before I leave, I want to thank you. Thanks for reading.
It’s been an amazing feeling to know that when I post, there’s somebody out there listening. Not always a huge crowd, mind you, but somebody. Some readers checked in every Tuesday (I'm looking at you, Art Elser) and some only visited the blog one time. No matter, I am grateful to you all.
And sometimes we even heard from those readers, which was really cool.
Because of this blog, I now have a pen pal, of sorts. Sebastien Bouchereau is a writer and international journalist from Agen, France, who found our blog (ain't the internet amazing?) because he's interested in Wyoming and wants to improve his English. He sent an email, a correspondence ensued, and now I get postcards and text messages from Italy, Africa and Florida. We're hoping he and his family will visit us in Wyoming soon.
Knowing there were some people out there forced me to stretch forward and try harder, to revise again and again because I didn’t want the post to be, you know, lame. I wanted to find a way to express that nebulous thing I was trying to say, in the fewest words possible.
It was a hell of an every-two-weeks writing prompt/assignment and I highly recommend it. I know I'm a better writer because of it.
Thanks also to all of the writers who shared guest posts. They have provided me with such a vast pool of information and insight that I’m still swimming around it.
Thanks most of all to my make-me-smile-any-time-day-or-night friend and co-blogger, Susan Mark, who took this four-year foray with me. I couldn’t have (wouldn’t have) done it without you.
For most of our readers, this is so long, not goodbye. We’ll be running into each other, in person and online, God willing.
I wish you well, with every fiber of my being. Keep writing, a little bit every day. I look forward to reading your work.
K'an bu fo...
Greet the people for me!