A lot had been going on, but Mamadou hadn’t paid much attention. He’d been working on a new series of paintings of clouds – while he watched and waited for it to rain he’d noticed how many different types of clouds there really were and he’d decided he’d paint clouds until it rained. Then when it eventually did start raining Mamadou realized how silly it had been to plan to stop painting clouds just at the time they became most common, and so he had continued his cloud series well into the wet season.
Mamadou had heard the news but it didn’t sound new. The President had been killed by his body guard. Then the military had taken over. People had taken to the streets to protest but things had become violent. Now the leaders of the two most powerful ethnic groups were each blaming the other for what was going on.
Other people in the village were agitated by the news though. As usually happened when there was instability, the price of rice had risen and foreigners were evacuating. Mamadou expected that things would settle soon though.
Mamadou was working on a painting of drizzle, with clouds that were almost indistinguishable from the rain. He was trying to capture the moment just before a burst of sun appeared, but he was finding it a challenge. The sun often appeared briefly between periods of drizzle at this time of year and so Mamadou had been given lots of opportunities to watch this, but the moment he wanted to capture really was just a moment. Before he could work out what was going on, it was gone.
Mamadou didn’t often wish for modern luxuries but he was tempted by the thought of being able to video the moment he was trying to capture and watch it back in slow motion. Then he had second thoughts and realized that capturing the moment on video would take all of the magic out of painting it. Mamadou then became sidetracked for a little while, wondering whether any first thoughts were any good or whether second and further thoughts were the only worthwhile ones. He began to doubt that any flashes of brilliance were first thoughts, deciding that many thoughts on the topic must have come before the great one. Then the sun came out properly and Mamadou predicted that there would be no more “moments” that day. As he started washing his brushes he thought he could hear something – people were yelling. Maybe someone was arguing.
Mamadou’s house was an outlier – further up the hill than the other houses in the village. When Mamadou wanted to know what was going on in the village he liked to climb the tree closest to his house and have a look before deciding whether or not he wanted to walk down and get involved.
Climbing the tree after all the rain made Mamadou’s clothes wet and when he got up to his favourite branch he found a couple of parrots sitting there that were reluctant to move. Mamadou didn’t blame them for choosing that spot – it was comfortable and had a nice view. That didn’t stop him from shooing them away though. Mamadou took his favourite spot and then craned his neck, trying to see what was going on in the village below.