As crazy as it sounds, sometimes I forget just how magical and amazing everything around me is. I am struggling to learn a language (two really, or even three if you count Arabic, Moroccan Arabic, and French), working to make my career as an English teacher, trying to find a place to call home, and trying to learn how to navigate this culture plus trying to create a future with my beautiful Hanane despite paperwork, bureaucracy, and no space…
And sometimes…I just foget. Luckily, sometimes I remember too. I look at Mohammad and Samira’s tiny little son Taha and see a little man that will hopefully grow into a smart, open minded, respectful man. I stand outside next to the sheep pen and with the stars shining brightly overhead, I hear the singing of these dozen Arab women in my family from inside Samira’s new bedroom as they sing for the joy of being women, of celebrating birth, of celebrating life. Hanane’s nimble hands beating the drum and the voices of her and her sisters, aunts, and mothers singing joyously at this new member of our extended family.
And then, this morning, I hear the wails and screams and the first thought through my mind is that something has happened to Taha, but no. he is fine. I find myself relieved and happy that it is only the neighbor woman who was just beaten by her husband who just returned from a tour of duty in the hotly disputed Western Sahara region. He returned, he beat her, and he kicked her out. She came to this house, this oasis in the industrial district where women have some sort of power. It’s a powerful family of women I’ve joined. Mama Khadija works hard, she marries her daughters off to the right men (hoepfully) and when it fails she divorces them from them.
Yes, a strange feeling as I find myself relieved that it is ‘only that the woman next door was beaten and thrown out of her house’. Only. And yet, any of these women would take a beating over the loss of a child. And yet strange.
Yes, sometimes I forget that I am living in a totally foreign and alien place. Nothing is really the same here, though sometimes I fool myself into thinking it is. Not even I am the same, though sometimes I convince myself that I am. In the evening as I sit by the hanout (store) of Mohammad and smoke a cigarette and watch the workmen who come and go each buying one or two smokes, the kids buying candy, and one kdi buying a rolling paper though he was only 7 or 8. More than likely he was taking it to someone older, but maybe he was going to roll a spliff for himself and the other 7 year olds….
This life is rolling along…and it is amazing.