By Omar Bihmidine
By Omar Bihmidine
Morocco World News
Sidi Ifni, Morocco, June 19
It was striking five on a wintry, chilly morning as Laila was still lying wide awake on the straw in the barn. This was her first night there. Her father, Mhamed, forced her to sleep in the barn as a punishment for having courted a fifty-year-old teacher next to the school two days earlier. Laila’s family lived on a farm and she spent most of her time working hard in the fields except when Kamal, the teacher, gave her a ring as a sign to leave the work and join him.
A couple of days ago, Mhamed bought them a TV set and a mobile phone for Laila due to her success at school. She and the teacher had been courting each other for nearly two years and it was only two evenings ago that father learned of their love-affair. In the village Laila’s family lived in at the time, the villagers were never used to courtship and trysting.
“You have got only one choice: marriage,” her father warned while brandishing a baton at her.
”Ok, ok, Dad!” Laila replied in fear.
Laila had been amongst the most respectful and charming girls in the village. But as soon as she turned fifteen and became addicted to romance films and soap operas, she began to dream about a romantic world of her own. All the men she had seen and met before no longer appealed to her the minute she saw Kamal. His position as a teacher made her fall passionately in love with Kamal. Since she knew him, she had thought that he would become the ideal husband she had always dreamt of during her adolescence.
Six o’clock struck, and everybody on the farm was up. Naima, Laila’s mother, went downstairs only to find her daughter still crying.
‘”What are you crying for?” her mother asked.
Laila felt too shy to reply.
“Ah, I see now; it is the teacher again,” her mother said. .
Naima was now aware of all that had been going on between her daughter and the teacher but she never dared to tell her husband. She appreciated that only if the teacher had intended to marry her dearest daughter and she would never allow for anything beyond that. Despite having been punished and detained by her father, Laila did not give up getting in touch more with her beloved Kamal. She doted a lot on him believing that he would live up to all her expectations ranging from a good romance to a dignified life.
From time to time, Kamal–though much older than her–would bring Laila some childish gifts like chocolate bars, which she shared only with her mother. As for her father, he still thought that his daughter had stopped meeting with the teacher since the night on which she was detained.
“I believe that Kamal would make a good husband,” Naima said happily.
“So do I, Mum!”Laila said, moving to and from.
Aside from the position of teacher, Kamal was also a poet and novelist of English. He rarely had free time, and most of his time was spent on reading and writing. As soon as he befriended and loved Laila, he no longer read and wrote as assiduously as he used to do. But he was hoping to get married to his beloved Laila as soon as possible. At age 50 Kamal began to think about marriage–the thing he neglected during his adolescence and even towards the end of his adulthood.
Kamal spent the majority of his university days studying alone, leaving little time to court any women. Though not well-versed in romance, he was trying to be pretentious all the time so as to gain the love of Laila. Laila herself very soon became romantic and too idealistic about love because of the countless films and soap operas she had watched. At first sight she thought that Kamal was a handsome man that she might be able to lead a nice, romantic life full of felicity and eternal mutual love.
Laila, who had been the most studious student at school–and who had won several prizes– began to lose interest in her studies and even to miss some of her classes. She did this in order not to lose her lover and also for the chance to be the first girl in the village to get married. Every time she was with her friends she started to brag to them about her lover and the things he frequently brought her.
Whenever Kamal went on holiday for some time, Laila would burst into tears until he came back. She would wait impatiently for him and when she saw him coming, she would run as fast as possible to welcome him with outstretched arms. She was quite used to welcoming Kamal and so she never paid attention to whoever saw her. All that mattered to her was Kamal. Kamal was at last so glad that there was a girl who loved him so much.
Since Laila was the only girl who loved him he always did his best not to berate her. He tried hard to do whatever she wanted him to. For example, he used to shave his hair, especially in the summer. She did not like it when he went bald and she asked him to keep his hair. She also asked him to dress well, to put on some cologne, and to change his eye-glasses and the way he walked. Poor Kamal obeyed all her orders and never took them personally. On the contrary, he thought that Laila was simply caring about him.
To be continued…
Edited by Laura Cooper
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