A QUEST FOR WATER: (Based on actual events in the southern Sahara)
CHAPTER 2: The Water Search Begins (1)
At four in the morning, Mouheini felt a hand rocking her gently. “Wake up, my daughter, I’ve prepared your donkey.” Her father, Alhassan, sat above her with a wistful regard, wishing he did not have to ask his daughter to undertake such an arduous, and possibly perilous journey. “Mother has prepared the illiwa for you.”
As Mouheini quietly sipped this millet porridge with a large wooden spoon, Alhassan sat with her to keep her company. He explained, “After the Tabaski festival I will be leaving toward the south with our camels and cows, to find water for them. Your brothers will be coming with me. So will Abdoul.”
Mouheini felt a sinking feeling in her heart. She didn’t want her father to leave. Sadouan would be distraught about caring for the family alone. When he was away, times were always harder; they skipped many meals, sometimes living off of one small bowl of rice or millet a day. Sadouan often went begging from the other families; yet they too had little to eat. This pending reality frightened Mouheini.
“Daddy, do you really have to go?” asked Mouheini, committing senti, talking while eating, a Tuareg faux pas.
“Don’t worry, I will make sure that Abdoul and your brothers stay safe.” Alhassan caressed his daughter’s face, trying to reassure her.
“I am not worried about Abdoul. It is you I care about,” she responded firmly.
photo: Alhassan and Sadouan, parents of Mouheini, the hero of this story.