A friend is returning from one of the most Muslim countries in the world. What she’s experienced might surprise you:
When I am back on the other side of the world, what will I remember of this place?
Walking down the main shopping street
and feeling like I have stepped into my Barbie doll’s closet with it’s
stunning array of dresses that range from gorgeous to garish.
Going to the weddings
where the black-veiled women I see in the streets emerge in
these very dresses, some with dazzling elegance and others in tasteless gaudy glory, to dance and celebrate.
The heady sweet fragrance of “fool,”
a tiny, white jasmine-like flower that is strung into thick necklaces
and worn around the neck or in the hair for any celebration. The heavy
sweetness of burning “bahour,” frankincense and other natural
incenses, that greets me when I enter a house.
The chai tea with milk
that tastes like Christmas in a cup and the refreshing sweet tang of
fresh lime juice on a hot day. The spiciness of fasoolia, a bean dish,
eaten with bread for a simple breakfast or dinner. Cramming into a
debab to travel through the city. The glow on a dark night from the
half-moon shaped stained-glass windows that arch over nearly every
window and every door in the city.
The moon itself,
which somehow seems bigger here. The brilliant blue and orange lizards that chase
each other in the garden.
Affection expressed openly between men.
Men in skirts-the traditional marwaz, something like a long kilt.
Thousands of white lights strung over the street outside the house of
a soon-to-be groom.
Hats made out of cardboard boxes.
The sometimes beautiful, sometimes abrasive, always haunting call
of the mosques that rings out five times a day. Large groups of men
bowing shoulder to shoulder in prayer.
The men who sleep on cardboard boxes in the streets.
And the little boy I saw sleeping there alone last week. He was so small. The
children who pile inside the dumpsters to search for food while no one
bats an eyelash. Seeing more physical deformities in one year than I
have seen in my entire prior life combined.
A woman in distress
because her husband is planning to take a second wife. Q – my best
friend here and her dreams – I have gotten to live nearly every dream
I’ve ever had, when I put my hand to a door, it usually opens – for
her, nearly every door of opportunity appears locked. Her teasing
Mildly reckless adventures
in the mountains and up the coast and the splendid
companions who’ve joined me.
Him. He’s been with me for every step.