the man outside of L’Belle Vie who was trying to give me directions to go to the Embassy and the Main Bank Au Marque next door couldn’t quite understand why i insisted on walking. “It’s really far Lalla. Just take a taxi it’s only maybe 20dhs.” He is distinctively calm. And unlike most young men from around this way, he has a gentle way of being that never insists that “you must…” He’s young and has the most beautiful eyes I’ve seen on a man. If there is one word I would use to describe him, I might initially say “sweet” but when you say “sweet” you smile and it’s said in the same way that something sweet is consumed–quickly. it’s not that he’s “sweet” or even cute as much as he is soft…like the way you say “soft” quietly, softly, prolonging such a small word.
he’s searching for the reason i really really just want to walk and i’m quick and in contrast to him. “Yes, I want to walk, just tell me how to get there and I’ll find the way.” He tries to explain looking outward to the roads and back to me as I look at him intensely, trying to listen to (his silences)…his directions. After a long five minutes of him slowly trying to explain he says, “but the roads are wild and you will find it hard to get there.” he looks at me with concern and i think i can actually tell this man and i think he will understand. even though we’re the same age he seems so much older than me and even though he’s a man and he’s gorgeous he doesn’t seem to know it/believe it, and even though I’m foreign he doesn’t seem to care. “It’s cheap miss, it’s only 20dhs.” He’s looking at me as if he’s asking and i think i can tell him that, “I have no money to take a taxi” I have to walk. “Not even 20dhs.” I don’t say anything. Not that I gave the last of my cash away to the girl on the bus who needed to get home, thinking i could get more for myself from the ATM later. He’s looking at me with these big eyes that are so concerned. He doesn’t take a second to think this through before he says, “it’s not a problem. here, wait right here, I’ll be back, I’ll give you the money.” “NO!” I stop him from going into the store. “Why? you need it don’t you?” “i don’t want it, i can’t take it, i’ll walk.” “no…i promise this is okay.” He waits outside in the sun with me as a store full of shoppers look on. He’s looking at me, waiting for me, just saying, “it’s okay. it’s really okay. it’s okay.” and with that I breeeeeeath, let my hands fall to my sides and warn him that I think I might cry. he’s quiet, he waits for me there, without saying a word as the tears are now streaming down my face. he’s waiting with me, witnessing me, not saying a word.
He leaves and returns, puts the money in my hand. tells me that if I have a problem with the bank to come back, that he works here as the director. I tell him this is shuumah (shame) for me to take this and he says no. if i want and if i can and only if i would feel better, than pay it back when i can, but if not, it’s not shuumah. He looks at my red cheeks and tells me to wait again. He comes back gives me a bottle of water and tells me that everything will be okay. i get in a cab and cry in silence. he made me cry, but the irony and beauty of this whole thing made me laugh.
“You might as well say goodbye to that money” for the next 2 months as apparently this has happened before to them. Charles gives me 10 bucks at the American Em. His grandmother went to Smith and he tells me, “I hear you’re losing your dining rooms.” How the hell does he know that. “How do you know that?” The Herald Tribune/New York Times and Shirley, the Smith alum who offers to take me in after the feast/holiday here that i am spending with my family. i need to get around still to film so i am resolving the problem:this one anyhow. i wait. ready to laugh that you have inherited me. yes that penguin with wings that can’t fly, flopping about, cute but useless. (a mess)
PS: there is a kid (maybe 4 years old) shouting into the phone in front of me (that he can’t quite reach up to just yet) of the teleboutique. he’s all by himself talking to the person on the phone about his zween girlfriend with all these formal introductions as the old grandfatherish man behind me grumbles into his cell phone!