By Rachid Acim
By Rachid Acim
Morocco World News
Beni Mellal, Morocco, June 2, 2012
Last summer, I visited my beloved family overseas. It was the end of Ramadan but the beginning of an enjoyable, unforgettable adventure I underwent alone. The heat of the summer season was not a hindrance for me to start my journey. What I did explore enriched my large experience as a fanatic traveler hankering after exploration and, most significantly, human difference and true beauty.
At one moment, I felt I was like Columbus plunging myself into other exotic realms wherein the sun delightfully shining the whole day, the moon ardently emitting its light the whole night generously, but this time not above the sea.
My family and other friends had to go to the mosque to revive Laylat Al-Qadr, the night of power, when the first verses of the Holy Qur’an were revealed to the Islamic Prophet Muhammad (Peace and prayer be upon him!).
Muslim mosques of the old medina were entirely full. The believers had to pray outside the mosques on their prayer mats, little carpets stretched on the streets’ floor like beautiful public gardens. From every side of the city, one could hear the Imam reading aloud Qur’anic verses inculcating both awe and comfort into the believers’ hearts.
Everyone was standing in awesome silence giving ears to the leading reciters, dispersed in every mosque like archangels, singing fasting songs to the heavens. Old men were dressed in white robes. Women were almost covering their whole bodies in jellabas and other traditional clothes. Children were not absent from this impressive scene, too. Indeed, a comely spiritual smell took over the whole city, delighting the senses of all believers and mounting up, higher and higher.
Before she went to the mosque, my mother, as usual, had prepared couscous for supper, a famous Moroccan dish of semolina traditionally served with vegetables and meat to be transported to the most proximate mosque of our neighborhood. As I was in a hurry, I had to eat my part quickly, take a taxi to the bus station. At midnight, I took the coach to Casablanca, the biggest city of the Maghreb, where the gigantic mosque, Hassan II, still bewilders me.
The airport of Mohammed V was almost empty and deserted. Few people were traveling at this time and I checked in. Then, I went to a Moroccan airlines’ airplane that was waiting badly for me. I was the only person who was traveling to Portus Cale. For the first time, and owing to my solitude, I wished I could not fly. Fearing less the airplane might fall out of the sky at any time, I tried to comfort myself with some lunatic prayers I was reiterating inside whilst meditating over God’s natural marvels around me.
Green fields were everywhere growing a host of beautiful roses. Roads were well designed, alive with all kinds of vehicles. Colossal oceans held a hundred swimming fishes. These, among other things, left me muted for a while, as I was pondering upon our beautiful universe. Everything was well-organized mysteriously. And I thought to myself that God again was very fair unto us, but we are unfair to Him. Really, the beautiful earth does not look what it seems to be from above. My second wish was that the airplane should keep flying and never land down on earth. I was panicky, but those prayers were consoling me along the way.
The host family I dropped by was so kind to me. They did their best and utmost to satisfy my needs wavering between food, lodging as well as medication. I was so attracted by the open-mindedness and the Arab-like hospitality of these people. They were devout, courteous, so welcoming to me.
If ever I lost my way, these people would give me directions. Consequently, they would accompany me until I find my way back home. They were eager enough to know more about our Moroccan culture. Thus, they would repeatedly question me about certain religious celebrations and rituals we pride ourselves on, like Ramadan, Eid Lekbir, and Ashoura. They would listen attentively and debate the issue more friendly like Muslims. I did not feel any difference at all.
Their houses were akin to religious temples, large monasteries sculptured in a marvelous way for a good reason. Their parks were like gyms embracing all kinds of sports’ practitioners free of charge. Most of their women looked conservative, having a sense of formality when dealing with men. They were neither talkative nor showy. Rather, they displayed a conduct of modesty, wittiness, and, above all, courtesy.
Whenever I wanted to cross the zebra crossing, I felt so bashful; many luxurious cars’ drivers, driving in the speed of light, would stop, give a kind signal to me to cross more safely. As a foreigner, I was walking proudly, thinking that there was something special about me. That was a mere illusion I thereby came to realize. These people respect everyone everywhere. Belittling or even bullying was and will never be their habit. They were highly educated and very respectful.
Many ravishing girls I had the chance to meet in malls and small clothing shops had pretty smiles and were very outgoing indeed. They never let me feel that I was a stranger in their country. They would frequently address me smilingly with much politeness, “Bom dia, Senhor! Como pode ajudar?” I would blush out of shame again and wish if they could reiterate tunefully the same greeting again and again. The phrase was making good echoes in my ears even now. I didn’t feel homesick nor alienated there in the company of these people.
As soon as I finished shopping, I would put on my beret, walk along the pavement, gaze carefully at these lovely people and see how life is beautiful with them. I remember that, in a rainy day, I was roaming in the city alone, under my little umbrella, from street to street, quarter to quarter, memorizing the landmarks, meanwhile rejoicing over the beauty of the new environment I found myself in, funny incidents that occurred with me, some of which was that some people were looking at me curiously. I did not look back but tried to make myself both calm as well as confident like an indigenous person.
It happened that once, while wandering, I could hear some soft female voices calling out towards me: “Italiano, Italiano!” I immediately looked back. There to my amazement, I discovered that an Australian shepherd was barking at two beautiful girls in their 30s. They were like two lovely mermaids I could hardly see, standing static, seeking out help. I took some pebbles from the ground, then rushed to give them a hand. They thanked me a great deal and they offered me a CD-Rom of music. Astonishingly, the two girls were two singers of the Fado music.
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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