Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Inquisition

Halfway home on the bus from Beni Mellal I lept to sit in the recently vacated seats next to us on the definitely non-sunny side of the bus. I was feeling as though my right arm and leg were being slow roasted in a giant oven on wheels. Just as I jumped at the chance, the passengers sitting in front of us, a conservatively dressed Muslim couple, with a baby girl in tow, also made a move for the coveted seats. Begrudgingly, I gave up the seats and then the broken conversations began.

Hello. Me? I am Australian, he is Canadian.
No, Canada. Oh, you are 30? I am 26, Jeff is 27. Your wife?
I am…vingt-et-un.
Yes, 21, you are very young!

The man pulls out his Qu’ran and begins singing verses. Perhaps to us, perhaps it was time for prayer. We look at him and he and his wife smile at us while he kisses his Qu’ran and puts it in his bag.

No, we are not Islamic.

He traces a ‘t’ on the back of the chair in front of us. T?
He then sits back in his chair with his arms outstretched beside him. I understand now.

No, we are not Christian.

He points to the wedding band on his finger and then holds his hand to his heart.

No, we are not married.

A look of comic horror spreads across his face, his arms flail in the air. His wife looks alarmed and then laughs with us. We are just an Australian-Canadian couple living in Marrakech.

We teach at the American School of Marrakech. Proffesseurs. Oui. My students are 7 and 8 years old.

His wife looks impressed and nods in approvement. The man then wiggles his fingers excitedly and then puts his hand on his chest. The game of charades begins.

I don’t understand.

Again, he repeats the motion. Then he puts his fingers through his daughters hair and uses his fingers to ‘snip’ at her hair.

Oh, yes, barber. Coiffure, I get it.

The conversation changes and comes to an end. He points to a man who just boarded the bus.

Yes, that man, with the beard? No way I don’t believe you!

Taliban, he says, with a cheeky grin.

Just outside of Marrakech the bus comes to a halt in a small village and they grab their things and leave the bus. A handshake here, a wave there and they were on their way.



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