Mamadou has gone, his place beneath the bridge a silent memorial now. The street sweepers left his things neatly piled for almost a month out of respect. Now all is gone except the notice, Avis de décès, pasted on the stone pier above the place where he slept. His face, kindly, bearded, stares out from the past, his eyes full of sadness. As always, even when he laughed.
In the heat of his last night, he must have watched the fitful glitter of the stars and sifted the heavy air for scents of home. But not a breath of wind stirred the drooping alder leaves that night. Not a drop of tropical rain pattered on the sun-parched earth.
Those fragile sensations, memories, sights and sounds, flesh and blood, left behind, are cut adrift. The link is broken. No exotic yearnings stir the city dust, no murmurings of Mandinka weave their melody among the trilling of the birds. Fly, Mamadou. Take the path you searched for among the stars. Find the peace you longed for, in a kinder world than this.