The brevity of life

The rhythm and beat of Sékouba Bambino playing as you walked into the car would immediately set the tone for the entire ride back home. Despite being late at night, the clock didn’t stop Abu from sharing his friendly personality and good spirit with passengers. He was ready to go home by the time he picked me up on the Upper West Side, but when he saw the destination, he knew he would have to delay his shift for a few more hours. The distance, however, didn’t matter for Abu.

Born and raised in Burkina Faso speaking three languages, including French, English, and Dyula, Abu took a risk and decided to move in 2016 to the U.S. When he left, he didn’t know when would be the next time he would see his family, and little did he know how much life would change in a matter of time.

In 2017, Abu received the sudden news of his sister’s passing. She was only 21, and with so much life still to live. The reasons were unknown, but she was sick for a few months, and it only kept getting worse. There wasn’t much Abu could do at the time besides mourning the loss of his baby sister while trapped in a new country, unable to return home. Since his immigration paperwork was still being processed, going back to Burkina Faso wasn’t an option. If he did go, he knew he wouldn’t be allowed back.

Losing his baby sister made Abu realize the shortness and the unpredictability of life. In just a blink of an eye, he said, everything could change. Life is also about sacrifices, and Abu knows best. It’s been six years since he saw his family for the last time, and he still doesn’t know when he will get to embrace them in his arms again. While not present in person, Abu ensures he sends money every month to his family so they can live a comfortable life. His motto, he said, is to retribute everything his parents ever did for him, so by the time he has kids, they will do the same for him. The concept revolves around karma — one he’s a fierce believer in.

Soccer has always played a big role in Abu’s life — from learning how to dribble the ball and watch the world cup alongside his family and friends to competing in small tournaments across the U.S. He found his team, and together, they travel the country to compete in small leagues. In a few days, he said, he was going to have his first game. He wasn’t been that active in the past couple of months, so he said he needed to start warming up soon to perform at his best. His team is mainly made of men from other African countries, and as a whole, they won over three championships over the past years.

Opportunities and the pursuit fueled Abu’s goal to move and establish a new life in the U.S. It hasn’t been easy, and the daily sacrifices continue to build his endurance and remind him of his purpose. Life in the city is tough as the bills continue to pile up and the workload increases. In the near future, he plans to move to Texas and enjoy the cheaper lifestyle and the laid-back life — the opposite of his reality in NYC. Regardless of where life takes him, Abu focuses on making each day count.

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