MOUNT HOPE — Laminatou Drame sat in the living room of her Topping Avenue home Wednesday surrounded by loved ones dressed in West African garb who had brought foods from their native Guinea.
The peaceful and colorful gathering in the second-floor apartment belied the tragedy that occurred Monday evening — when Drame's 4-year-old son, Ebrahim Kebe, was fatally struck by a minivan just outside the building.
Sitting on an ornate rug as early as 8 a.m., Drame received the visitors — who brought baked goods and large wooden bowls of rice — pleasantly and with a steady smile. At the center of the room, where the silence was broken only by the whirring of two fans and the occasional relative softly crying, the 46-year-old mom, despite her resolute composure, seemed shocked at losing the youngest of her eight children.
"Now, all I have is seven," Drame said of her remaining children.
Drame, who lost a 6-year-old son in 1995 in Africa before the family emigrated, used to share a queen-sized bed with Ebrahim. Tuesday night was the first in years that Drame did not sleep next to her son, she said.
"He was my baby," she said, bowing her head.
Ebrahim darted out between two parked cars and into the street on Topping Avenue, between East 174th and East 175th streets Monday evening when a black 2010 Chrysler minivan struck him, police said. Paramedics rushed him to Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, where he died.
The driver of the van, a 51-year-old Manhattan resident, remained at the scene and was not charged. A spokeswoman for the medical examiner said an autopsy determined that the incident was an accident.
Ebrahim's sister, Rougui, 26, said the little boy — who loved playing basketball and watching cartoons on television — couldn't wait to start school in September.
"He kept saying to me, 'I'm going to school. When is school going to start?'" Rougui, who is pregnant, said.
A makeshift memorial set up in front of a tree close to the family's home was decorated with a blue and white soccer ball, teddy bears and sandals, among other mementos. Many of those who left Drame's home passed by the memorial and lingered for a minute or two before leaving, many dabbing their eyes as they walked away.
Drame tried to keep a brave front for the family, particularly her sons, with whom Ebrahim was close.
"Close too much," she said with a half-hearted laugh in broken English.
The family, who was awaiting the boy's father arrival from Guinea, was planning a funeral.