In our series of letters from African journalists, film-maker and columnist M’Baye M’Baye tells the story of how she made it to the forest in freezing temperatures

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When I woke up everything was white. White like the night sky, blank white. I
could smell the cold, crisp smell of snow and trees. I felt it through the
floorboards and on the curtains. I tried to open my eyes but my eyes would not
move. They would not open and I could not lift them. I could feel my tongue
sitting on the inside of my mouth as the cold began to penetrate through my
skin. I could feel my nose pressing against my chin and in my ears. I could
feel my cheek muscles tightening up on the sides of my face and my body
beginning to grow taller and more sturdy. A tall figure stood over me. He was
shining with white armor and his face was covered with dark black armor. He
had a very narrow face and his body was thin and long. His black eyes stared
into mine. I heard the bellow of a bear before I felt the cold. When he
perceived the cold he put both hands to his mouth. His teeth were sharp and
sharp and he bit the air. I fell back against the sofa and let out a low whimper
as the cold wrapped around me. He then grabbed me roughly around the waist and
carried me up against his side. His armor was like I have never seen before.
It was like some kind of steel plate that had been ground into a shape. It was
very strong and very cold. He then turned me and carried me out of the house
into the yard. His legs were longer and more robust, like two of them grew
from the back of his legs. The house stood on top of a large hill. He put me
on his shoulders as he carried me up the hill and up through the village.

I
have been walking all week. The snow which only falls in the winter fell
faster and thicker than ever. By the time I reached the top I stopped breathing
and the cold began to eat away at me. I was exhausted and weak. I put myself
in the center of the house and let myself sink into it like a dream or a
dreamlike episode of sleep. I sat there for several minutes wondering which
way I should go and what I needed to do. I could feel myself sinking further
further into the house. My mind was like a cold, solid sphere. I needed to
enter the spirit realm but I was not sure how to do it. I just knew that
something was not right and that I had to do something.

Finally I stood up and began to walk. I had one purpose; make it to the
forest. It was cold outside and the trees were just about the only thing
standing out of the white. I entered the forest and walked for a very long
time. I walked in circles and in circles, walking on both sides of the line
I always walked on. I entered the village again and walked to the end of it
without any need to make a turn. I walked back to the start and did a complete
circle. I walked back and forth and in and out. All my time was spent walking
the woods. I could feel my heart beating in my chest and my head pounding but
this time I was not aware of it.

Just before I knew it I reached the end of the woods and felt my feet begin
to sink into the ground. I kept walking but my feet were barely moving. I came
to a clearing in the center of the forest. The trees before me were tall,
standing straight up and wide apart. I reached down and picked one of them up.
He was small and light and when he stood on his toes he was taller than me. He
was covered in green leaves and looked a little like a green version of a
tree. I began to walk towards him and place him on my shoulder but I ended up
placing him on my head. I walked towards and then through the tree. I followed
a stream into the forest. I climbed a hill and then walked down the other side
of it. The stream ran through meadows while I walked along the hillside. The
stream became a river and I walked through it to get to the other side. I
crossed several bridges and then I climbed over one that stood higher than the
others. I walked through fields while I climbed a steep hill. I stopped on the
top and had a nice view across a valley. I walked a long ways in the valley
and then looked down on the village. It was all black and I could not see it.
The forest gave way to meadow and then the forest again. I walked through
fields and then I climbed up a steep hill. I knew every step and I was sure
that there was no mistake. I walked through meadows covered in white snow
until I came to a huge clearing. I stopped in the center of it and the trees
on either side fell over. There was only one path through it, a circular path
around the clearing. The snow at the top fell and covered and then covered the
path, which now consisted of a circle of snow. I stood in the center of this
place and tried to make sense of it all. I knew that this clearing was meant to
be a clearing as if there ever was a clearing. It looked like an empty space
with snow falling down from the sky. I felt so cold that I began to shiver,
like someone has frozen to death. The snow fell around me and I was surrounded
by it, just like a ghost.

After
my body froze I walked out of this place and began walking back down the hill.
The trees were covered and seemed to fill in around me. I walked through them
and found myself on a hillside. I looked out and there was a large field, snow
covered. I looked up at the fields and the snow and trees surrounding me
stretched to the skies. I wondered what I could see in this place that was not
there.

I walked all the way back to my home, which was in the middle of a meadow.
Even in the morning the snow still came down from the sky in thick, white
sheets.

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