That was when Diary’s name last appeared on her mother’s phone screen. The young woman, an academic celebrity in this West African country, had recorded a voice message for her 5-year-old sister: I miss you more! I love you so much.
Then no one can reach it.
“All I do is wait for her call,” said Binta Sow, 40, lifting another facial tissue. “The world has stopped.”
Now millions of people are following the issue, posting messages of support for Diary and her family from three continents. French police, working with Senegalese investigators, have expanded their search in many cities, but have remained frivolous. Authorities have notified officials across the Schengen Area of her disappearance.
there are anxiety in Senegal, where the president has called the Diary a “rising star.” Her first novel, a twisted love story, came out last year. She planned to pursue an engineering career. Her school, Lyce Louis-le-Grand, is considered a starting point for major science-focused universities in France.
Diary won a full scholarship.
“She can do anything,” said her uncle, Mahfouz Sarr. “She’s so smart for her age. She has so much strength.”
Last night they talked, her mother said, The Diary looked excited. Classes would resume the next morning.
She had spent most of her vacation days in her dorm room, reading books and ordering hamburgers. The diary should not come out too much, Binta said. The coronavirus pandemic made the association even less appealing.
New Year Eve was no exception. The diary traveled to Toulouse, France, to visit family friends, a mother and a daughter. They mostly sat around and were caught, Binta said.
Her mother recalled that Diary looked perfectly normal as she described the reunion. Optimist Joklant. She said she was back in her dorm room, preparing for school day. (Investigators confirmed she had inserted the middle.)
The daughter of a housewife and a baker, Diary went to school with much richer children. Did she face clicks? The bullies?
My daughter would never be interested in mentioning anything like that either, Binta said. If someone does not like it, just throw it away.
The diary, naturally reserved, was known to keep its head down at school. She was involved in reading and writing.
She had recently completed her second book, her mother said, and wanted to correct it again before sending it to publishers. Her first, Under the Face of an Angel, had drawn applause in Senegal.
Weaknesses on the Internet had thought: What about pressure? What if she had just run away from it all?
Binta could not have imagined this.
My daughter is clear about what she will do and what she will not do, said the mother. She does not falsify it to impress anyone.
Plus, she said, Diary is close to her family. She loved to bake birthday cakes with her father growing up in their village, Malicounda Bambara, about 50 miles south of the capital, Dakar. She was deeply saddened when he died in April, her mother said, but focused on comforting her family.
At home, they keep her bed made with a blanket covered with red hearts. Her bookshelf is still full. Its initials (DS) are carved in wood.
The diary usually fell on her mother on weekends days of the week to study, but she quickly responded to WhatsApp voice messages from her 5-year-old sister, Amy Colle.
I miss you. I love you, said the little girl Jan.3. When are you coming home?
My love, I miss you more, had replied Diary on WhatsApp. I love you so much.
She promised to come home for the summer holidays.
Every message Binta sent after that did not open, according to the invoices read.
A day later, the Diarys school reported that she was missing.
Nothing about the disappearance makes sense, her mother said. The diary was supposed to be safe in Paris. So many students dream of studying there.
I’m putting it all on God, Binta said.
Diary’s mother said she is grateful for the outpouring of love, neighbors dropped envelopes with money a traditional gesture of support during a tragedy.
On Wednesday, her living room was filled with unexpected visitors. There was the village mayor, a local lawmaker, a society of people wearing T-shirts with Diary faces. They gathered below Scholarships awarded scholastic awards.
Everyone raised their hands and prayed for answers.
The Bintas phone, leaning on her lap, kept ringing.
Not her daughter. Not her daughter.
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