In his world of innocence, in an age that is supposed to be an age of gold turned an age of steel, an age that advertises the complete breakdown of human wisdom, he, possibly, may not be able to phantom the enormity of the cruel event of that sunny day, last week.
But when eventually he grows up, and he is told the story of how a French aerial raid in his homeland snuffed the life of his 30-year-old mother but threw him clear off her back, then, he would know that his middle name ought to be ‘Miracle’. Indeed, one-year-old Saida Jallo is lucky to be alive.
He could have been dead by now. French forces had been in hot pursuit of Islamist fighters in the town of Konna in Central Mali. His mother, Aminata, had hurried out of their home to take him and his older siblings to a safer place when a missile exploded nearby. The bomb blew her into smithereens but miraculously spared him.
He was fast strapped to the back of his mother at the time, but he was flung to safety by the impact of the explosion without a scratch on his body! It was one miracle that would confound even the most incurable fatalist.
About 15 more were reported injured, some of them severely, among them Saida’s seven-year-old sister-Isata.
The Maiga family was badly wounded, too. Four members of the household were under a mango tree in their compound, preparing food, when a fighter helicopter sprang from nowhere. Frightened and without clues, they scampered through the house’s narrow door on their way to safety, but the shrapnels from the French troops were faster, slicing the lives of a 42-year-old mother, also called Aminata, and her three children Zeinab, 6, Alean, 10, and Ali, 11. Amadou Jallo, 57, now adds looking after Saida and his siblings to his job as a driver.
He wondered: “They have so much knowledge and they have such modern equipment -I do not know why this happened. The Islamists were not near my home when the bombs were dropped. I know they made a genuine mistake, but I would like to know whom they were aiming at.
“The noise when the firing began was terrible. When it was over I went into the house and saw what had happened; they all looked dead. My aunt’s body was on top – I think she was trying to save the little ones, but the metal had gone through them all and the wounds were very bad. I tried their pulse, but that was no good.
“Then, I heard crying; it was her youngest son. He was in a corner. He must have got separated from the others when they were rushing in – he was very lucky.”