Sunday, 3 November 2013

I Believe in The Country America Used to Be


We were sitting in the American Language Center’s yard when he suggested we move somewhere else that we could concentrate more on what we were doing. Too much noise he said, in a swollen sulky mood that I felt implied something transcending complaints. An ugly grimace was painted on his pale face. In a way, I didn’t see right through him, but I was afraid that I was gazing too much. “What else can be uglier than that what I have just seen”, I thought to myself. Being around people was something clearly that man wouldn't smile upon.

_“Caffe Jawhara would be a better place to go to” I lied. I wasn’t really enthusiastic to go there in such a cold and rainy day. I was paralyzed by the sense of how terrible to be sitting there, my ass dived for hours into those floppy chairs, then have all the time the waga dogo voice of the waiter asking us every few minutes if everything was alright. I hated it whenever he did, like if it was such a pleasant comedy showing his half broken front tooth. I would at then show him a fake smile, the kind that says “I hate the day I have seen you.”I think he was smart enough to decipher it, then call it what all the Moroccans would describe (the yellow smile). Whatever…but I have never understood what sort of terminology was that, just like the many of our blur slurs!

It was cold, pissing outrageously that morning. The sound of the siren worsened my situation and made me shiver even more. For him, it felt like being home during those days, except that he would often sleep, instead. I don’t know why, but I had  such a strong belief when I started going out with some American friends that days went slow in Morocco, a sluggish rhythm of life that one broke only by farting around somewhere or just toss themselves in bed to get some sleep. The weather and the air they breathed in here was too thick for them, full of an airborne chemical toxin called “laziness”. Why would those people just sleep instead of hanging out, for instance? Yes, Chris did farted around lots here, but all I can remember is that most of the time as it rained he married his cadaver-like body to his bed, switched off his mobile to give me some moments to enjoy his bossy sound of his mail voice. Texting him, I had to wait for days to be granted his reply which was always as short as « KISS »... « OK he must be sleeping again » I would in unreasonably frustrated mood think loud to myself ».


 As a Moroccan, that was something which was emotionally and mannerly cold. We are really the sort of mankind who like their tongues to be dragged out. Ask how a person is. What they are doing. How life is going, If he had a good day, if he was around, if, if and if.  In a bold blunt way, the “hows” unnecessarily matter lots, while the “whys” are never answered so far in this culture.

The first time I met him he was wearing a traditional woolen hat. The type you would wear only when it is very cold. We shook hands then not in a while did he start taking his hat off then put it back once again like if it was something that deserved so much more recognition on his bald head to make the perfect museumification of it . Of course he would go again and put his woolen Moroccan hat. It struck my mind that he was convinced that people knew and recognized him just when putting on his typical Moroccan traditional cloths. I have seen something like that!

He might have indulged in a war with his mind thinking why I had put things away to come to the American Language Center at 11 AM to start my week when I was supposed to be at the university.... I loved and I had the tendency to tell him actually that I was brilliant. I was doing what we all wanted to do as kids. Make headlines, be controversial, stupid, crazy, shocking... and fun living life for the run with no compass or tomorrow to plan.  I have never liked Singing praises about anybody and that what he might have thought I was doing if I had told him. May be I could have sounded more American than a Moroccan to him, and that was not really the point I bet he wanted to meet me for. Those blue eyes were reflecting a dim light shed on a rotten view toward this culture.

I used to congratulate him on his good Arabic. Well done, really! Then shut the desire up to say lots more. For sure you were making of yourself one of the finely shaped blocks to build the next generation of Orientalists”. Was that all I wanted to say? I didn’t know, but what made me think in that way after all?

When once we were warming ourselves under the light of a shy sun, I interrupted the silence when he was delighting his cigarette.
« That’s Erich, the teacher I told you about ». « He is really a great teacher ». He knows lots about the Middle East. I have never heard of Mesopotamia. It was him who once had told us about in one of his classes ».

_Really ? and do you know Juha ?

_Of course I do !

_It’s Juha’s day today by the way !

_What do you mean?

_I mean… I was advised to read short tales of ‘Juha’ to learn some vocabulary. We can also have a little discussion after reading. Look! Here is one that I’m planning to read now.

_Ah ! Ok. I thought you wanted to say that it is a day of stupidity today!

_What?! why ?!!

_Well, until now I don’t know if ‘Juha’ was a smart or stupid character, and I thought… you, you… know!!

_And is that Eric from … the States?

_Erich! It’s an E. R .I. C .H by the way. He is German- American!  I said.

An exhale, then a question as we went again scrambling and rumbling our biases and stereotypes. The fact that Erich was super  tall for he was German and that the French were such smelly people  were so far all created in our over lifted stratospheric sense of imagination may be, but at least one should stagger when the reality gets blurred, far removed. Hopefully he thought so! That’s how all nations used their condemnatory imaginative power to create fear from strangers and keep the self turning around the circle of power. We are not what you think, nobody is golden!

When we came to the point of discussing his third Juha’s tale, I realized that I was unconsciously initiating a red carpet- like way to a politically enraged and engaged voice.

I didn’t know what my question for him was but, as he stabbed his sixth cigarette into the shallow porcelain ashtray, he bragged away «…  I believe in the country America used to be. I am American. A pure West Virginian. Allergic to strangers, though I think I have started to believe in their kindness! ». His lips jerked as he tried to hold back his overwhelming laugh. When he smiled he showed a brown piece of bite on his lateral incisor.

« Sort of strange when you see something like this in a Muslim country » he said. He removed his glasses then looked at me as if I was conspiratorial character of the tale he was reading.

“Her message is be yourself, treat others with respect, radiate love may be. As God himself had no problem with the nudity of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. I think it's taking a lot on us to put ourselves above God. Judging all Muslims on the basis of few of them is like eating a rotten fruit and blaming the whole tree”  I said when he was really listening to me in astonishment or may  be disapproving my way of looking at the preppy half-naked lady she walked sweeping the onlookers to her attention.

Such scenes are intolerable here aren’t they? I think you the Moroccans keep swinging between the fascination and rejection of the American culture, but in my opinion that is much better than “utopianizing” Islamo-Arabianism. Thats the genuine sense of freedom and I believe in the country America used to be.

When he took a sip, I rolled my eyes to his obnoxious sentence that started to din the world surrounding me.

“Yes”, “No”, “Ok” .I kept on sounding more monosyllabic, in a suggestion that I reached the end of the line. I was ready to conquer Jawara's door to the world outside after spending way too much time talking to him.

He was dark, and all he believed in idiotically matched with the world of fantasies that embodied every socially institutionalized attitude towards Arabs, and what about this story of   “ I believe in the country America used be? 
 It was dark, lonely and prejudiced by a suffocating patriarchy. Racism is the reason for so many past America’s shameful acts. Chattel slavery, treatment of the Indians, indifference to the oppression of blacks, internment of its own citizens during WWII, human experimentation without consent, using the A-bomb, and imperialism all existed because the American Government saw the people they subjugated as inferior human beings. All of these acts deprived non-whites of their freedom and pursuit of happiness.

_“It is getting colder, a rainy day and may be worse, but it still not like America” I said after a moment of silence. Once American boots touch your soil, they don't leave, but I was ready to leave.

_Now I don’t really agree with you geographically calling The United States “America” he said with a smile that I didn’t see the use of.

“Ah!  You believe in the country America used to be”!!