GOTCHI AND SATCHI (part five): (….short story continued….) Sanda silently mourned the loss of his beloved cow. Indeed, every member of his herd was precious. He knew his animals by name, and recognized their footprints in the sand. But Kouri, the head of the herd, had been his close friend since he was a teenager.
He looked over at Gotchi holding Kouri’s calf and sighed. He gently took the calf from Gotchi and cleaned the blood off its fur. He whispered in its ear, “little baby, you will have to wait until the winds subside for your milk.” He led the wobbly calf to his daughter. “Gotchi”, her father informed her, “This baby is yours. Care for her as you would your baby brother. Tomorrow, I will find her milk, Allah willing.” From that day forward, Gotchi and Satchi were inseparable. Gotchi hand-spooned milk to Satchi, until she was old enough to graze. Satchi followed Gotchi everywhere. As they grew older, they spent days roaming the plains together. Gotchi sang songs and shared secrets she dared not tell others. She savored taking naps curled up next to her best friend, while Satchi licked her face and hair.
The day Sanda sold Satchi, he sold away their family pride. The endless drought had stolen not only their health and wealth, but also their last bit of dignity as herders of the Sahara.
Photo: Wodaabe girl herding her family’s cows, from the Azawak of Niger, portraying Gotchi with Satchi.