By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
April 15, 2012
As a rule, on Saturdays, I come from work at 12:00. The school I am working in is beside the main road leading to Zagora center and my place of work is 28 kilometers far from where I am living. Therefore, I chose to commute since I only go to work on two days, Friday and Saturday. Sometimes, I go by taxi; at other times, I go by coach. And seldom I hitch-hike except when taxis are absent. The other Saturday was so special for me in that there were no taxis or coaches in sight. I had no choice but to hitchhike. I spent two hours hitchhiking, but in vain. No one offered me a lift. I gave up hope and went to have some rest under a tree as it was shining on my head.
It was now half past two in the afternoon, and the road suddenly went empty. I kept staring at both sides, and then the mirage began to enchant my eyes until I saw some students coming towards the school. I could observe that they were my students. But I had some doubt, for on Saturday afternoons, no teacher works. As they approached me, I spotted the best student in my class and called him. He directly came to me and asked him why they came to school at this time. He answered that they had two extra hours in Mathematics from four to six. Since I was alone then, I told him to stay with me for company, while other students went inside the school.
Through my student’s eyes, I could remark that he so much enjoyed the offer. I kept silent for a few minutes until he pointed to the small village he lives in. I squinted hard to view it because the sand dunes had nearly engulfed it. Out of curiosity, I asked him about how many of his family live with him. And he said twelve siblings. I frankly couldn’t resist the bitterness I felt inside when I heard that from that badly-dressed and poverty-stricken student. Down with such ignorant parents! I said to him. Out of innocence, he asked me why I uttered such a curse. I then had to let him know that I too had twelve siblings. It was a real coincidence.
As he recounted to me more about his family, I came to know our differences and similarities. And the latter outweigh remarkably the former. The slight difference between him and I is that his father is married to two wives, while mine is married to four. And my mother is the third one, while his mother is the first one. Frankly, I didn’t dare divulge these secrets to him. Another nuance is that I am born to a rich father, whereas he is born to a poor one. Anyway, I would deem this student of mine as my kindred spirit simply because we have the same siblings and that we share the same poverty experience. During my childhood, I didn’t benefit anything from my father except a meagre salary. My father spent most of his life abroad.
My student’s father works as a guard in Casablanca and pays them a visit once a year, so did my father when I was a student. The question that came to my mind and maybe to the student’s was why these ignorant parents have made their children suffer. I do not mean that I blame them for their poverty. Rather, I blame them for getting married to more than one wife, especially that they are poor. They can’t afford the expenditures of the demands of life. They can’t afford to meet their children’s needs such as education, good health, nutrition and at large a good, dignified life. Personally, one of the reasons why I haven’t yet got married is that I am afraid to commit the same mistake that my father and those of numerous children have made.
When I raised the matter of polygamy to the student, he innocently said that in our ordinary life, we hear our ancestors saying that to be wholly religious, one has to marry four wives. He added that it is the same case with his father. May God forgive these ancestors of yours! I said to the student. Then I explained to him that being religious and devout in this respect means caring for, and providing the best for, one’s children. At this point, it is not in the least the case with both of us. He and I, I added, have gained nothing from this polygamy. I must admit that it has torn me apart. I always wonder even now what would have occurred to me, had I not exerted myself hard to become a teacher. God alone knows.
Our conversation was very engaging to both of us, especially that it had a lot to do with our personal lives. We carried on the discussion so fervently. On the spur of the moment, the student said ‘Look, the taxi is coming!’, I immediately stood up. I bade the student goodbye and got into the taxi. That day was the first time I had come home so late. From that time on, the student in question came to me at the end of the session, complaining to me about new problems. I then let him know that I too complained about the same thing. I found out that he repressed these new problems the same as I did many years ago.
To be frank, it is my curiosity which has helped me discover a lot about the lives of others. Sometimes, I feel I am born to compare between mine and others’, particularly those of innocent people like pupils and students, and then I can’t help feeling a sudden desire inside to put pen to paper whenever I seize the right moment. I would say that I totally agree with the writer who once told me that my past is still the present of numerous Moroccan children. Here, the student I have talked about is an ideal example that has made me deem him my kindred spirit.
Omar Bihmidine is high school teacher of English. He obtained his Associate Degree at Choaib Eddoukali University in 2008. His writings take the form of short stories, poems and articles, many of which have been published in Sous Pens magazine, in the ALC magazine in Agadir, and in the late Casablanca analyst newspaper.
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