A neighborly visit
Returning from the Medina (bank and food) I met one of my neighbors from next door. We acknowledged greetings and she then went on to carry on a conversation with me that I did not understand but did acknowledge with smiles and nodding my head in agreement.
About an hour later, Ouiwa came to my door, asked if she could come in, and presented me with a gift! She had taken a frilly, silvery and gold garland and wrapped it around a piece of dark brown pottery and inside was a long string of colored wooden beads and a necklace of red and white linear beads that the lady on the corner sells to the tourists. To say I was shocked is an understatement. Now some of my neighbors have brought food to my door during Ramadan, but they just handed it in and beat a hasty retreat. I think most of them, even though they find it very odd, know that I am a loner.
I know from our time in Fez that Moroccan women are so good at nothing as much as they are at visiting. I do not speak the language but I am an adept at intuitive translation. Once when we had attended a wedding in Fez, one of the wedding party came to Q and told her what a nice long conversation we had – much to Q’s surprise. “How do you do that?” she asked.
“Years of practice my dear.” I can, it’s true, converse with almost anyone in any language, within certain common areas of course. The down side is that this method is exhausting as it requires paying rapt attention to body movements, posture, facial expressions, hand movement, and eye contact. We don’t notice how little we actually have to pay attention in our normal day-to-day conversations within our own environments. When I speak Spanish and the other languages that I have some small proficiency with I have to pay closer attention true, but nothing like when I have no idea what they are saying verbally.
I can tell you that my neighborhood is a widow. She lives with her brother and his wife, as well as her son and his family. Her son is the father of the neighborhood baby, the one who gives out the kisses. She is a grandmother and she has diabetes. She has some leaks in her house because of the rain as well, and thinks I should take my towels that I used to catch my own leaks up to the roof to dry. She thinks it is very good that Q has gone to America for school, but sad that I live in this whole house by myself – an alien concept in Morocco I assure you. She thinks I must be lonely.
And I can tell you I am exhausted now. She caught me in the midst of writing a report for a friend of mine and I had to compartmentalize the thought process I had been pursuing in order to give my full attention to the conversation. I think she caught my drift when I explained that I needed to get back to work and that I am leaving shortly on another trip.
It was a very brief visit by Moroccan standards but for me – the hermit who likes her socialization planned and away from home – it was longer. I am not one who enjoys chit chat. I like an agenda and purpose.
What a kind gesture it was and one I appreciate. Just another day in the Kasbah Oudayas that reinforces the fact that kindness and neighborly consideration exist worldwide, and aren’t we glad?