There’s this small boy that sits outside our house sometimes and waits for nothing. He will occasionally pilfer through our garbage and casually eat the greasy leftovers from last night’s couscous or chicken. His fingers are small and quick and his skin is the color of oak wood or a fawn’s downy coat. He has the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen and his iris’ are like melted chocolate.
He never asks for change like the other kids that wander the corniche and sell gum or napkins, but I throw Dirhams to him anyway.
Our maid left school in fourth grade. she has a straight long nose and can say ‘ring’, ‘sorry’ and ‘hello’ in english. She is seventeen.
She always touches my things without asking and it irritates me but then I remember that she is more like the babies that she was hired to watch, curious about things that she doesn’t understand. She’s much more desperate than the babies because they have all the time in the world to learn, and she does not. I straightened her hair a few nights ago and she showers everyday but hasn’t wet her hair since.
She tells me she wants to get married, to an American man who will teach her English and love her and I don’t have the heart to tell her that it will probably not happen, that it’s more likely that in a few years, she’ll marry a 30 year old Moroccan man, who will cheat on her and slap her around. She’ll have two children, a boy who will grow up like his father and a girl who will defy tradition and study in Europe and marry a French boy.
She is lazy and doesn’t like to work, to clean or cook, which angers my aunt who pays her double the average amount. She’s honest at least and doesn’t steal from us like the last name, a girl named Nadira who took the diapers to use as pads.
Sometimes after ftour, we all sit in the living room and talk and laugh and play with the babies and Sayeeda in always in the kitchen washing the dishes or scrubbing the floor. When I first came, my grandmother introduced me to her by calling her my cousin and saying she is part of the family.
But I can see by the way Sayeeda looks at us, through the window in the kitchen, with this lost, confused sort of look on her face, like she’s learning for the first time what family really is, that my grandmother is completely wrong.
I spend too many nights thinking about this girl I made up in my head named Twelve. I think about God and how I am convinced I saw him at the Medina, selling the tiny black seeds that I love and my grandparents hate, or in somewhere completely New York, like the corner stores that sell Marbollos and gum and twenty-five cents chips.
My aunt’s twin babies love the seeds; they don’t have a name here, they’re just zuriyah, which literally means seeds. In Egypt, they have these white seeds that you can eat whole, with the shell and everything and here in Morocco, they have the black ones and it just makes me wonder, why in these countries I’ve never seen grey seeds and I think if I did, I wouldn’t want to eat them. They’d just make everything difficult, like the shades of grey always do.
iv. C’est la Vie
I’ve taken French for 5 years now and it is ironic how little I know of the language when my entire family has been immersed in French culture since before I was born. My grandfather worked as a president of something in the French United Nations and when I was younger, I watched a VHS video of him yelling at a group of people in the lovely Romance language. My mother was a French teacher and I have uncles and cousins in Paris, who take pictures under the Eiffel Tower and wear blue colored contacts.
I was supposed to go to France this summer and drink cold beer and kiss cute boys with plump lips and enjoy the luxuries of living in someone else’s house but I came here instead, to this country where poverty is seen as a dirty stain on a lovely carpet, a dusty mess of human lying on the shiny tiled sidewalk.
Sometimes I see French people in the Medina, so obviously tourists, with pale thin legs
and beautiful blonde children, that have sun burned shoulders and faint lines of sunscreen masking their faces. They have large expensive back packs and squint their eyes against the sun. The adults run their fingers up smooth leather bags or polished pottery and attempt to haggle with the shopkeepers, who are often missing teeth and dignity. The shopkeepers charming, lilting French, tinged with Arabic is music to the tourist’s ears and they always end up paying triple the actual price. Both parties leave satisfied.
My aunts tells me to remain silent in the Medina because it is embarrassing, this American accent that lingers in my Arabic. I look the part of a Moroccan and she refuses for either of us to be treated as strangers in our country just because my pronunciations are awkward and insecure. She regards herself as first a Muslima and second, a Moroccan and it is of utmost disrespect to her identity to be treated like a tourist. She refuses to be tricked into placidity like the French tourists when she knows better, when she giggles along with everyone else in the Medina - the teenage boys selling plastic bags; the old hijabi woman buying mint- whenever an exchange occurs between the bright-faced foreigners.
It’s uncomfortable, being silent for hours while my aunts bargain alongside old men with dirty fingernails and young girls who have long tangled hair, but I suppose I am lost. I am neither a full Moroccan, nor a full American, but I’ve allowed too much of both to inhabit me, to take pieces like an auction or a war-broken country, my arms snaked with henna, my hair flat ironed to straight perfection.
I am cut half-way between two clashing cultures, cut between dirhams thrown to children with eyes like coal and dollars dropped in coffee cups by the subway, between paintings of Bouznika’s beaches and graffiti tagged on brick walls, between the loud cry of azam and the ugly taste of lukewarm beer.
I am lost and it is a good thing I didn’t go to France because there is no more of me to give away.
tagged as: poetry. prose. creative writing. rejectscorner. spilled ink. morocco is home.
reblogged from wildflowerveins
originally by wildflowerveins
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