New York – Now I had nothing but to appreciate the occurrence of that Big Fat Wedding that was in the making, not only because of the beauty of Lalah Meriyem herself but also because of the Baraka that her Fat Wedding has bestowed upon me. From a poor wretched lad, within the course of three weeks, I began to feel like a rich bastard. And though some wealthy friends of mine made fun of me when they told me that what I made in three weeks they blew in one night in some club in Casablanca, I paid no heed to their arrogance. I was more than happy with my life.
So there I had money in my pockets and felt like I was on the top of the world. The world was mine because of 400 MAD, and all because of the Baraka of the Big Fat Wedding of our beloved Princess Lalah Meriyem. What a joy!
Now the first thing I did when I got done scraping the boards for good, when all the work was done and the wedding was on the doors, was to go and reward myself for the hard work I had done. I went to the Medina and bought a nice fake polo tee-shirt with a green alligator opening his jaws wide open on its front, then I purchased a Casablanca-made fake Levis 501 that would outlive the original American Levis by years because of its knock-off material. And the whole thing looked good on me. I was proud of the way I looked. I felt that way because my principle was that it is self-confidence that counts in life and not what you wear or own.
Yet to make some money without sharing it would seem quiet odd if not selfish, especially for a poor chap like myself who needed it. So the first thing that came to mind when I wanted to have some fun was my secret girl-friend Zoulikha, who I dated secretly for fear that her family would know that she was dating a poor lad from a poor area and perhaps stop her at once from going to high-school with me. Well one has to admit that when it came to dating, the whole issue was a serious matter then, mostly for girls. On was not to mess around in those days. Needless to say, Zoulikha came from a very prominent and wealthy family in the city of Fez. I was not sure that she loved me, but I knew that she liked the adventurous aspect of the relationship..Although Zoulikha cam from a rich family, she never benefited from their wealth.
Her prosperous father ran their big villa like Kim Jong Ill had run North Korea. And though beautiful, she always lamented to me how her father would not give her money to buy new dresses or shoes. She was the type who loved colorful dresses. And she told me that though her father looked as though he were a successful businessman, in reality, he was but a thief and a ghoulish gatherer of stolen possessions. His secret of being rich, she confided in me, was due solely to the fact that he stole fat sums of money from all his brothers and his sisters when his wealthy father died. He falsified ownership documents by bribing some crooked Adouls (certified notary), a sinister deed, which put all his brothers and sisters far below the poverty line.
Nevertheless, on the day of the Biggest Fat wedding, I dressed-up well and went to pick up Zoulikha in a secret spot near Moulay Slimane, Le Lycee Maaloum. We strolled the whole evening in the back roads of the city and messed around behind a patch of giant bamboo and remained there until darkness fell and the voices of drunkards and thieves began to get near.
On the main boulevard of Mohammed Six and the avenue that leads to the King’s palace, there was not a spot where you could wiggle your feet. Crowds of men, women, and children were all anxiously awaiting a sight of the bride. As for the groom, well, nobody really gave a damn about who he was. People jostled and croaked like bullfrogs. The excited atmosphere was overwhelming and the lights were sparkling colorfully. But my attention was directed to the boards I worked on. They were now everywhere, and by each one there was a makhezni standing in his big boots. It was wonderful a scene, a fairy-tale-like scene.
We dashed, Zoulikha and me, into the crowd and blended into the sea of people. Suddenly, I knew where to take her. We went and bought a chocolate gelato with a huge red minaret on top, and then I took her to a little toy store around the corner at the heart of Mohammed V Boulevard. I also bought her a Monkey clown that played drums with the bottom of a pig when you turn a key behind his back. She seemed to like the toy, as I saw that she shed tears over it. “My father never bought me a monkey clown that dances like this,” she lamented in a choking voice that invited compassion. Then she leaned on my ear and whispered, “I will kiss you when we get into the shadows.”
Meanwhile, as the world outside became crowded, we chose an alternate route in order to enjoy the breeze and follow the wedding of our princess. I knew of a backdoor that would take us to the rooftop of a high building in La Ville Nouvelle. Soon enough, we found ourselves high above the crowds with nobody to see or judge us. We could see the big doors of the king’s palace wide open and the whole plaza where the wedding would soon take place looked small and golden. There was too much noise blaring from sirens speeding cars, I heard that Queen Sofia of Spain and the son of the Shah of Iran were in town. The black cars were the ones carrying well-known guests and diplomats. When Zoulikha realized that nobody was up there to give us hard time, she climbed to the highest part of the terrace.
I followed her to the top and we laid down there in each other’s arms. Soon the breeze started to blow, and without thinking, she stood up and let her long silken golden hair loose over her bony shoulders. She then took off her zebra-striped dress. I wasn’t surprised. She stood naked against the bleary lights and exposed herself to the full moon. I could see her tiny breasts blazing like two giant raspberries against the background light. It was foolish what she was doing, but I must say, it was agreeably foolish. As soon as we began to hear the drumbeats and the Ghittas filling up the sky, Zoulikha soon started to dance like a snake that was shedding its skin. Her feet followed the cacophonous rhythms. She moved freely in a way that I thought would never be possible for her to move. When I asked her why she was like Eve in Eden and urged her at least to try out one of the candy-colored panties I bought her she refused. “I prefer to be like this!” she announced.
The crowd must have doubled in size from when I last looked. There was not enough time left for Zoulikha to wander the crowded streets with me. Her father would punish her severely if she violated the curfew. So before I sent her home, I had to show her my contribution to Lalah Meryiem’s wedding. I brought her to one of my signs, but as I placed my hand on the pink facade of the sign-pole, something smashed my hand. The pain was so cruel that I saw sparkly flashes and misshapen stars.
The giant boot of a mad Makhazni who guarded the sign pole was what hit me. I cursed him and wished him to rot in hell The man had hit the hand that scraped and rubbed , the same hand that picked the candy-colored panties, and the same hand that bought the monkey that played drums with the butt of a pig. “What a cruel world we live in!” I thought. The only thought that came to my mind at that moment was but these verses of the great wise man Abdel Rahmane El Majdoub:
Hit him, yes he deserves the hitting
That’s the reward of one who makes people happy
And to his soul he applies but pressure and strain