By Omar Mokhtari
By Omar Mokhtari
Rabat – Don’t take me for crazy. I am writing this because I feel I’m really in love, in love with a sweet lady, older than me, called “Oum Rica.”
This lady is unique and very mature, not childish or untrustworthy like those girls we could behold only at night or at our university.
She is beautiful. An angel I came to know only in foreign textbooks when I was 7 years old, rehearsing English dialogues and conversations with my peers. The Arabic teachers used to talk to us about her in geography and history courses, but few cronies of mine have had the privilege of talking to her or even attending her enjoyable English sessions.
She would stand still and speak English fluently like an American native. We had but to follow her and to look up to into her face’s shiny complexion. She was dominating our class with her lovely mood, continuous smiles and nice gesticulations. Teaching us many lessons through games and songs we still can recall.
When she wanted to act out dialogues, model them for us as students, my cronies and I had to fix our eyes on her perfect, very tempting body suggesting true feminine characteristics we could not find in the girls in our class. She had an eloquent mouth uttering kind words to those around.
She never shouted at us. She never insulted us. She was always punctual, writing in a silver notebook many new Arabic vocabulary items she learned from us. If there is any disruption, she ignored it and continued explaining confidently. Her lesson was so smooth, in a way that one activity led to the other in complete harmony.
I remember she never wore jeans. She could not eat pork. She did not smoke and she did not drink and frequent night clubs or houses of other teachers. She was a conservative lady, having much esteem for our faith.
When she read the text, we thought for ourselves she was singing Lord I lift You Name on High. She would mark a pause and carry on her reading so melodiously that we never fell asleep. Scarcely, students would request her permission to go out or change their seats. In her class, we were obedient, serious and also studious.
Physically speaking, she was very tall, skinny and middle aged. Her face was sun-tanned and her eyes were round, widely open like two cheerful windows. Her cheeks were red like two ripe tomatoes. Her hair was leaning towards blue like sea waves. She wore formal clothes, sometimes putting on a multicolored headscarf as if she were a nun much committed to her job at church. She was always tidy and full of vigor.
In the center of our class, she directed the activities, walking bewteen the class rows, correcting exercises and giving us a hand to learn the English language easily and more enthusiastically. If a student misbehaved, she would smile up gently, and we could see her clean teeth glittering with love and whiteness.
Some female French teachers never spoke to her. In one corner, they usually sat and started backbiting her. They would quarrel with her for no plausible reason. However, she was not the type to respond back, to frown at people, let alone to gossip over nonsense.
In school breaks, she would rush to the teachers’ hall, get a cup of mint tea and go back to her class, open her stylish bag and get out a novella to read for several minutes. She did not talk much like the other teachers; she was always busy cleaning the blackboard, correcting our copybooks or fixing an old audiotape she had borrowed from the administration.
Intellectually, Oum Rica was intelligent, brainy and very brave. She had positive attitudes towards life and her friends. She was extroverted, hopeful and open-minded. Unlike other women of her generation, she never used any make up. She was simple but so gorgeous. Her legs were vivacious and dynamic. And she was like an athlete in our class.
Everyday she would bring us some games to help us enjoy the English language sessions more comfortably. She never corrected our mistakes on the spot, but gently invited some students she trusted much to do so. In her company, the session was nothing but real fun.
Sometimes we felt we were taking part in a theatrical show, and sometimes we felt we were actors enacting different roles in a comic movie. If she turned on the tape, we would chant in chorus as Les Choristes or The Beatles.
Before the school bell rang, the students studying in nearby classes would look from the key lock to see what was going on inside Oum Rica’s class. Some students had lots of family problems, but when they came to her class, they rejoiced over the funny, friendly atmosphere kindly established there. They would laugh, play, sing and dance sometimes.
Whenever we finished the lesson, she would hand out many sweets and pieces of chocolate to us. That was how she would motivate us to learn English and display an unparalleled love for both the teacher and the language.
We had the pleasure of attending her daily lectures. We were not feeling bored nor fed up. Everyday was a new day wherein we discovered other distinct properties of this fabulous teacher.
She was very considerate amongst the school staff. The headmaster of the school professed hers the best class to teach in thanks to her dedication to her work, her excellence in managing school affairs, guiding students and helping them resolve their daily problems.
Some students were much reluctant to attend other teachers’ classes, but they fell blindly for Oum Rica’s class. They would make up a thousand excuses to avoid listening to this or to that teacher, but they were all ears whenever Oum Rica was before them.
Her charisma stemmed from the love she had for her students, her strong resolution to serve them and satisfing their needs. While some beggars would stand by the school at noon, waiting for her to appear, we had to stop and to talk to her in the school courtyard to refresh our souls with her sweet words falling on us like musk.
Now, Oum Rica is married and she has two children. But I am still in love, in love but with her language.
Rachid Acim is a high School English Teacher in Beni Mellal, Morocco. He is a Freelance translator, writer and poet. Rachid is a contributor to Morocco World News. He can be reached at: ([email protected])
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