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How Tobaski Ram Becomes Pressure Cooker in a Harmonious Home

Famara Fofana is a journalist and storyteller

By Famara Fofana

No one in our shores is oblivious of the feel-good factor that comes with a sacrificial ram. It puts

smiles on the faces of children. It makes wives radiate with pride- that their own Afang too could

do it. The sight of an all-white, healthy-looking ram tied under an orange tree in the foreyard

days before the Muslim feast of Eid-al-Adha is as good as any pleasant news. You even

wonder whether these are not the same four-legged creatures we do tend to kick or knock with

our bikes and cars post- Tobaski.

Despite his paltry monthly take-home, Junkung had always wanted to get himself and family a

ram. In truth, he knew in his heart of hearts that a 10, 000-dalasicommodity was beyond his

means. But for a family man living amongst a handful of fairly endowed neighbours who had

their animals stationed in their verandah for few days, the 56-year-old cannot afford to be the

odd one out. He has every reason for wanting to punch above his weight.

“Baa, when ours is coming?” asked young Sally, his 8-year-old daughter who was taunted by

her play mates in their close-knit compound. While they were outside doing the padinyed (a

fun game played by kids in the street), they had teased her and her 4 other siblings that their

father Landing will be kind enough to share with them some  meat should his father

fail to slaughter a ram. By their very nature, the kids meant no offence as they argued over

whose father’s ram is bigger.

Junkung too would have no ram worries if only his boy Jenung had made it across the

Mediterranean. Any chances of that were undone by a fatal ship wreck five years ago. To add

to his woe, he just overheard a neighbour’s wife Jalika remarking “Tubabudu is such a blessed

place. See how our Lamin in just a space of few days managed to western (wire home) D20, 000

for our two rams. We all knew from his infancy that my boy is destined for great things.”

Lost for words and feeling broken and mentally battered, Junkung, who had wanted to bath after

a tumultuous day all of a sudden forgot what he was about to do.Knowing it was getting late to

go out, he swapped the bathroom for his bedroom, brought out a calculator that almost got

infested with cobwebs. And Like some accounts clerk over the counter, he began to do some

math in keeping up with appearances. Without even realizing, he moaned and groaned and

cursed the 1 by 6 that means a cut in salaries for the next 6 for almost a half a year.

In his troubles, his wife Jonsoba maintained that in as much as Junkung wants to fulfill a scared

religious rite and in the process make his family happy, he must take solace in the fact that it is

Allah who gives and takes. “Besides, why should you sweat over a matter that is beyond your

purchasing power? Can’t you see that there is life after Tobaski? Remember times are hard

now and we will continue to eat,” reassured a woman who has proven to be such a dependable

plank of support to her hardworking pauper of a civil servant.

On the next day – the eve of the Eid – when the clock appears be ticking faster than normal for

Junkung, came the unexpected call. Amidst the pressure cooker, word was relayed to him that

there was a ram for him to pick at their gate. As to who the provider was, he had no idea. What

was certain is that the timely gift was no largesse from the well-to-do money-pinching

neighbours and friends with whom he shares the same faith and with whom the Imam preaches

the virtue of sharing and caring with the needy.

Nothing beats the pleasure of a timely surprise package and here was one that came out of the

blues from a wife who saves part of her Osusu money for dry spells like today.

PS- This piece was first published in 2019

Famara Fofana is a journalist and storyteller

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