gone til november
October 28, 2010 § 3 Comments
My scars never have good stories. There was the time I walked into my bike, jumped shin-first into a box at the gym, and slipped on wet grass into a loving embrace with concrete. At lease the latter happened when I was six. I’m tallying up injuries like Home Alone sequels, each with a storyline sillier than the previous. The latest and greatest: I got more than I bargained for walking home from the Kasbah with an armful of laundry as I managed to skin my knee and ruin a brand new pair of nylon tights. I don’t even like nylon tights. I deliberated between getting some more black pepper from Aoufiya, or skipping the sting for a makeshift bandage of a cotton round and headband. In other poor-me headlines, I’m still waiting on the windowpanes. Ok, I’m sure no one wants to hear me whine, except maybe my mom.
Yesterday, I made it to Kenitra for a second helping of “culture et civilisation”. Along the way, I stopped at a roadside cart for some warm vanilla yogurt, and wondered why I keep getting sick. The two-hour lecture on Athenian philosophers endorsed what I’ve been noticing in my other classes: discussion consists mainly of the professor shooting down the students suggestions, the girls at the university, veiled or no, are irrepressibly more outspoken than the boys, and the dictation of entire paragraphs (down to the punctuation!!) is not a rare event.
There are nearly sixty students in my grammar class, up from the six who showed up in innocent callowness with me on the first day. As our enrollment grows, so does our professor’s impatience. I think I’ve chosen a particularly elementary course, but it’s good review. After some translation busywork in the UNESCO office, I turned to a measly midday meal of pomegranate milk and shial bread I bought in the morning for company.
Luckily, the customary now what? dilemma of a post-lunch lull was no sooner contemplated than resolved. Soukaina, my new best friend, found me again. Today I finally got around to telling her about myself. Soukaina, the pragmatic preemptor, had already asked her family if I could come for Eid Kabir, and they said yes. Holiday plans decided, her next objective became clear. She told me that she will write out some verses from the Quran in calligraphy, and was excited when I told her I had prayed before. My suspicions were confirmed when she asked me if I could say a phrase that I instantly recognized as the shahada, the Muslim profession of faith. Later, she told me about her English courses. I told her I’d be interested in hearing about what she’s learning in her mythology class, expecting stories of Hercules, Odysseus, and maybe a Narcissist or two. She turned to the beginning of her notes and proceeded to teach me the creation story of the Bible. I’m struggling to verbalize just how I was feeling as this young girl stammered through the vocabulary of my childhood with phrases like “separated the sky from the firmament” and “on the Seventh Day HE rested.” I corrected only her grammatical mistakes, not wanting to break the incredible moment of interreligious insight. Why is it improbable that American students could list even the simplest doctrines of Islam while a Muslim a world away, (and a veiled one at that) has an understanding of Christianity worthy of a Sunday-school sticker? And yet many of my fellow Americans would agree with Juan Williams’ groundless fears, to the point of racial/religious profiling, protests, and violence?
And don’t worry, I’m not planning on running for president of Haiti with my friend Wyclef. This blog title is simply to let you know, I won’t be posting anything until I get home from my trip to Malaga, Spain. My plane takes off Friday morning, which, of course, means I get to catch the last train out of Rabat at 9pm Thursday before I can share an intimate evening with the Mohamed V airport in Casablanca. I’ve been contracting a mild case of homesickness, and I’m hoping this weekend getaway to meet from friend Lisa (from the US, not the German) helps me convalesce.