A Short Story of Half a Baguette and Lingering Emotional Trauma.

“Oh wow man, I like your triceps. They look really cool.”

He looks up and smiles at me.

“Haha thanks!”

“You do exercises? Like push ups and stuff?”

“No no, I do a lot of swimming. At the beach.”


It adds up. His triceps are prominent- prominent enough to catch my attention, but not enough to suggest that he has a dedicated exercise routine for them. I wonder how much open water swimming I need to do to have triceps like that.

I mention that I need a place to charge my computer.

“Is the art gallery upstairs open?”

The last time I was here I charged my computer in the bright sunlit gallery upstairs surrounded by the deep rich and inspiring colours of abstract Cape Verdean art.

“Ah no, gallery’s not open today.”

“Oh man.”

“But there’s the library. You can charge at the library.”

He gets up from his desk at the reception and tears off a chunk of the 50 escudo baguette in my right hand. I’m a little taken aback by the intrusion, but otherwise it’s not really a problem. He’s a pretty nice and friendly guy. I myself have been intruding in other people’s eating and drinking recently. Not long ago I invited myself to provide human company to a lonely bottle of wine I saw at the defunct bar in front of the hotel where I stay.

The owners of the wine were relaxing in the distance. Upon realising their unfortunate bottle of wine was being plundered by a stranger they sprung up and briskly approached me.

I think I was on my second glass when they reached me.

We ended up being quasi-friends, engaging in interesting, heartening conversation for most of that day over multiple other bottles of wine.


We walk towards the library. It’s dark and somewhat dusty. It’s evident no one ever comes here. Libraries are not a huge thing on Ilha do Sal. Same with suits. I remember the time I was going around boutiques on the island and offering to sell my suit so I could get some money. The shop owners all kept giving me very bewildered and amused and confused looks. I did not understand it at the time.

Later I began to ask myself how many people I had ever seen wearing suits on the island. The answer was none.

There’s also that other really cool library at Espargos- Bibliotheque Jorge Barbosa. I think the only other person I ever saw in the main hall of the library was the librarian. Haha.

I settle down and find a spot to plug in my computer. I pluck some art books from the bookshelves and take some pictures. Pictures of Van Gogh paintings surrounding my MacBook Pro. I think it all looks really cool and visually appealing and creative and artistic. Pretty much all of the books are in Portuguese so I’m able to make very little sense of them. To be honest the post-impressionist paintings in the books are just as impermeable to me as the descriptive Portuguese text. I do not understand any of the two. I guess I could just see the indecipherable ink scribblings on the pages as an art form too.



I start up my computer and begin to work on a number of research fellowship applications. A number of hours pass. I type, I think, I look around, and every once in a while I think I take some more pictures.




“Oh thank you very much man, today was a really productive day!”

“No problem you’re welcome haha!”

Somehow we find ourselves beginning to engage in a conversation about relationships. Romantic relationships. Past romantic relationships. He tells me about his first girlfriend. And his current girlfriend. I think there was another girlfriend between the two of them, but I’m not sure now.

I ask him how he handled the emotional distress of the separation at the end of the first relationship. He says something about how the past is the past, and how the moment the relationship ends the person becomes an “ex”. He puts a lot of vocal emphasis on the “Ex”.

I don’t really like the word “ex”, and I’m not sure why. It’s definitely a word pretty much everyone uses to describe past romantic partners, but for some reason I don’t feel like it applies to my specific experience. I’ll have to come up with some other term that I feel resonates much more with how I feel.

I keep getting perspective from him. From the look of things, calling someone an “Ex”, and saying the “Ex” very loudly is supposed to immediately make you feel emotionally detached from them.

That doesn’t work for me. It does not matter how many times I decide to shout “Ex!”, and make forceful slicing downward motions with my hand, I’m still going to keep wallowing in the distressing emotional mire that has enveloped my being from the past few months.

I still find myself talking to her. In my head. I still find myself talking to her in my head. Sometimes I sub-vocalise. I still see flashes of her face, of her smile, of her hair.

I’m angry at something, and for some reason I find myself thinking about something she did that got me angry. And I feel like I’m going through that disturbing experience all over again.

And so I find myself getting angry at someone who is not there. Over something that happened to me months ago. And I get visibly upset, like the distressing event just freshly happened. Emotional anguish from the past, rippling through to my present without any cogent provocation. I’m not sure what that means.

My thought process still gets periodically interrupted by pangs of disorienting sadness: I’m thinking about A. Thoughts about A connect to B. Thoughts about B connect to C. A begins to connect directly to C, and then——

And then I see her face. She is smiling at me. And seeing that makes my heart sink. An intense sadness overwhelms me. And all of a sudden I’m unable to remember what I was thinking about in the first place.

What was I thinking about again? A? B? How many letters had I gotten to? What was A about again?

My brain feels fragmented. And wounded.




“Hey I have a friend for you! From Italy! I want you to meet her! She really needs some BBC!”

He holds his right arm in his left hand, moving the arm back and forth.

All of a sudden I am laughing very loudly.


There’s a female coworker of his in the room. She humorously chastises him for being so vulgar in the presence of a guest.

We’re all smiling. The guest doesn’t seem to mind.

At some point he offers to show me around the museum.

“Wait what? There’s a museum?”

I was not expecting that at all.

There are some medium sized sea salt crystals on the desk— trademark of Ilha do Sal. Ilha do Sal literally means “Island of Salt”.

I put one of the crystals into my mouth as I follow him towards the entrance to the museum.

A Saturday Morning, Some Alcohol and a Secret.

It was a Saturday.

I think.

I think it was a Saturday.

Or you know what? I’m not sure. There was very little difference between the various days of the week to me. I had structured my life in a way that made my schedule entirely under my control, and so the days of the week had no special significance other than that which I assigned to them.

Mondays were no different from Sundays because there was no early morning rush to get dressed and head to work. My working hours were very flexible, and completely determined by me. Every day of the week was the same- entirely open to my interpretation, and entirely subject to my intent.

Well, banks didn’t open on Sundays. This was one way external routines still exerted some sort of influence on my life: There could be no banking on Sundays. But the banks were open on Saturdays. Banks are open on Saturdays in Cape Verde.

I got up that morning with a pliable schedule: What did I intend to do?

I probably walked about in my studio apartment for a while, doing some things which I now do not remember. I then opened the door, basking in the exhilarating view of Praia Antonio D’Souza- the excellent beach on the South side of the island of Sal. I loved that beachfront apartment. I really loved it.

I do not remember how I got upstairs. I probably bumped into one of my Cape Verdean neighbours in the hotel, had a short chat (as much as I was able to chat in Cape Verdean Creole- a language which I was only mildly fluent in) and then followed him upstairs to spend some time with his friends.


They were passing around a cup. Inside it was some sort of beverage. It had evidently been mixed with alcohol- I could smell it. I did not object. I accepted the communal cup and gently sipped some of their questionable beverage.

We were all enjoying our conversation- the alcohol was doing its job I think. Inside my head I was marvelling at my position: living in a foreign country, spending time with interesting locals and engaging in conversation, partly in a completely new language. I was living the life.

Every once in a while though, my mind would steer my attention to my MacBook Pro in my apartment downstairs. That computer was my most prized possession- I spent thousands of dollars purchasing it in San Francisco, USA. And these Cape Verdean boys, interesting and exotic as they were, were very light fingered. A number of things had spontaneously gone missing from my place in the preceding few weeks: My binoculars, my mini-drone, my bluetooth speakers, and God knows what else had gone missing that I had not yet noticed.

These boys were thieves.

And so in reaction to that, I resorted to hiding my MacBook Pro in the ceiling of my room whenever I was going out. The door to the room had a non-functional lock, and Simon- my Senegalese neighbour cum de facto caretaker, had not fixed it despite my having provided him with the money.

And so while I was chatting with the guys in Creole and sipping their dubious drink, my inner man was very anxious about the safety of my computer.

Shit what if one of them finds out where I keep it?

Nah they can’t. My hiding place is pretty covert.

Wait but what if they do?

Calm down Mayowa, calm down your MacBook is safe. 

Shit but what if they do though? I mean, look at that guy, the one with the purple beanie- look at how widely he’s grinning. He knows. He definitely knows. Oh he so knows. Fuck I am in so much trouble, fuck.

My MacBook Pro is gone, my MacBook Pro is fucking gone. Fuck.

A odj means to see.” One of my Cape Verdean neighbours said to me.

“Ahh. A odj. To see. Ohh.” I nodded my head excitedly, adding the new term to my Creole lexicon.

“Ah wait, so that hotel- the really nice one by the beach- Odjo d’Agua, Odjo means to see right? And Agua means water right?”

“Yes yes!” Replied Nilton. “Odjo d’Agua means sea view! Sea view!”

“Ahhhh. Sea view! Odjo d’Agua! Ahhh!” The previously cryptic name of the hotel suddenly realized some sort of meaning in my head. Before that moment, all it was was the nebulous indecipherable alien name of some fancy hotel.

I was enjoying myself.

“Odjo d’Agua. Sea view. Ahhhh.” I nodded slowly to myself.

Two of the guys in the room were engaging in a transaction. I think one of them was buying marijuana from the other. Marijuana was definitely something that united young people from all over the world. From all walks of life. If there was a global political party having Marijuana as being core to its ideology it would definitely have all of the world’s young people solidly behind it. Definitely.

It was time for the Marijuana-buyer to pay his vendor. He walked to a corner of the room and stood on a small table that was positioned there. He tiptoed and stretched his right hand into the ceiling…

My brain froze.

He was reaching into the ceiling to get his money. Where he kept his money was exactly the same position I had hidden my MacBook Pro in my own room.


Shit shit shit shit shit Mayowa.

Your hiding place is no fucking secret.

Everybody knows it.

Everybody fucking knows it.


Your MacBook Pro is gone.

Your MacBook Pro is fucking gone.




PS: I actually do not swear this much. I only indulged in profanities to this extent because I was in a pretty precarious situation. And all of the swearing was in my head anyway, not out loud.

For those bothered about the swearing, that is.