By Rachid Khouya
By Rachid Khouya
Morocco World News
Es-Smara, Morocco, March 7, 2012
When I was unemployed, I managed to find some part-time work at a private school in Laayoune, one of Morocco’s southern cities. I taught English and gave evening classes for high school students who were preparing for their Baccalaureate exams. I also coached them in improving their communicational skills and understanding the Elizabethan language of Shakespeare. One evening, my neighbor Hassan, a fellow teacher and friend, showed up at the school with a VIP who sought extra tutorial hours for his daughters.
After a brief introduction, the VIP informed me that the amount of money for my services would not be an issue. Apparently, he was from the armed forces and was directly in charge of providing food, goods and services to Moroccan troops in the south. As he put it, “if you need food, you can get all that you want for free, all that I want is your help for my daughters”. My response was immediate and clear. I informed him that I did not have any interest in taking food that belonged to the troops. As for payment for tutorial classes, I told him about the arrangement that I had with the school, whereby I only kept half of any revenue I generated. I then instructed him to pay the school its portion and that, given our mutual friendship with Hassan, I would offer the courses to his daughters free of charge.
The VIP was rather surprised by my refusal to accept his offer of free goods. I was adamant in not benefiting from a corrupt scheme where those entrusted to manage supplies for the troops are stealing food and other goods and selling them in the black market. I provided the desired assistance for his girls and they did very well on their exams. The VIP paid the school as did every other parent.
Five years went by, and I was appointed by the Ministry of Education to teach English in Es-Semara city. In my first week in Es-Semara, I went to a local café and could not believe my eyes when I saw the VIP from Layoune running towards me. He held me affectionately and invited me to join him for drinks. As we conversed, he said “you know, Mr Rachid, no one has ever shot me alive till the day we first met.” I apologized profusely and told him that my refusal to accept his stolen goods was never meant to hurt him. He nodded in agreement, adding “yes, I know, but when you told me that the food and the goods of the troops are for the troops, not for you, I felt as if I was shot in my head”. He added, “from that day, I stopped selling the stolen goods and my superiors exiled me to Es-Semara”. He ended our conversation by saying “Sometimes, we need to be shot to kill the evil within us… Thank you for shooting the thief within in me”. Although the shot was late, as they say, better late than never.
Editing by Hisham El Koustaf
Rachid Khouya is a teacher of English in Es Smara city, south of Morocco. He obtained a Bachelor Degree in English studies from Ibn Zohr University in Agadir. He published many articles and stories in different regional and national Moroccan newspapers. He is an active member of MATE (Moroccan Association of Teachers of English). He is interested in education, human rights and citizenship (Email: [email protected]).
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