Thursday, January 28, 2010
There are a lot of young girls on my street. When they see me approaching my door, or coming out for the day, they rush en masse to give me a greeting. I kiss each and every one of them. They giggle and stand in a cluster waiting for me to do something interesting.
Once in a while I have a treat in my pocket which I hand out. Very occasionally I put a dirham in their hands but I don’t want them to get in the habit of asking me for money so this is a rare occurrence. Most of the time, I simply ask them how they are and then tell them I have to go to work. They ask me questions in Darija which I cannot understand. Some try a little French they have been learning in school and we fare better with this. Despite our difficulties communicating, they never fail to greet me as if it’s been years since we last saw one another. Their sticky kisses and upturned faces are a welcome balm to my spirit.
One girl likes to draw on my door with chalk. I’ve admonished her several times about this but she can’t seem to help herself. Another girl always extends both arms wide open and comes running towards me for a hug when she spots my arrival. Sometimes a small group will escort me for a short time on my way to Batha where I catch a taxi to school. Their voices are like the chattering of birds as we part company and they skitter off.
Unlike the boys, these girls don’t stray far from the neighborhood. Their approved path is to and from school or the hanute (shop) to buy some bread or small staple for the house. But soon enough, I will see those same girls toting boards of bread on their recently scarved heads as they sashay to and from the bakery, growing into the responsibilities of young Moroccan women. All too soon they will lose the freedom of childhood that allows them to chant songs in the street and run up and down the derb in carefree abandon. They still won’t stray far from the neighborhood, even in young adulthood. Not if their families want to preserve their reputation.
Sometimes I cast my eye to the future and see these girls as young women with children of their own. I wonder what role we will play in each others lives as the years unfold. Will they remember me? Will I still be here when they choose a husband and begin to create their own family? Will I learn more Darija and will they learn some English so we can better communicate?
I don’t know. But right now, they are always a breath of fresh air, never failing to add something sweet and innocent to my day.
Posted by Water Dragon at 6:45 AM