A Quest for Water, Chapter 1: No Water Without Rain (3)

A QUEST FOR WATER: (Based on actual events in the southern Sahara)

Mouheini wanted to be out in the dry marshland, sitting under the shade of the acacia trees with her girlfriends, playing games, singing songs, or engaging in storytelling contests, which she often won. She loved recounting stories that Sadouan had told her, and making up some of her own. Already she had spent all morning doing chores.

“My darling daughter, I really do not know how you will be ready to marry and raise a family. You still have the heart of a child.” Sadouan shook her head. “By the way, have you forgotten?” she asked. “Tomorrow it is your turn to fetch water for the community, together with Takat and Raichatou. I must braid your hair today, in case we don’t have time before Tabaski.”

Mouheini moaned. “I have to fetch water already?!” At least, she told herself, she would be traveling with two of her favorite cousins.

Photo: Takat is removing fleas and lice from Mouheini’s hair; “grooming” is a common activity during the dry season among children in the Azawak.