So long a letter
So Long a Letter begins when Ramatoulaye, a Senegalese woman living in Dakar, the country's capital, decides to write a letter to her old friend Aissatou, who lives in America. The letter is occasioned by the sudden death of Modou, Ramatoulaye's estranged husband. In keeping with Muslim custom, Ramatoulaye must observe a mirasse, a forty-day period of isolation and mourning. Over the course of this period she keeps a diary, which she eventually intends to send to Aissatou. Ramatoulaye begins by reflecting on the long funeral proceedings following Modou's death. Senegalese-Muslim customs dictate that Ramatoulaye serve as a host to all the mourners and well-wishers, opening her house to them and providing them with food and drink. This strikes Ramatoulaye as a grave injustice, as Modou, in his final years, wanted nothing to do with her. The mourners virtually sack her house, and though they bring gifts--mostly bank notes--the most of them end up in the hands of Modou's second wife, Binetou, and her greedy mother (Lady Mother-in-Law).