I Commence My Dance with the Language of Love
September 29, 2007
North Africa page: http://canciondelvagabundo.googlepages.com/northafrica
Me and my French Tutor.
I began my perilous journey into the French language today. After nearly three weeks of trying to turn up a tutor who would be willing to teach me for a decent price, I finally found one. His name is Abdel, and he seems to be as kind a man as they come.
We had a long walk from our meeting place in the ville nouvelle of Meknes to where our lessons would take place in a suburb called Combatar. I was told that this suburb was once a French military enclave during the time when Morocco was fighting for independence. The French lost and left the enclave behind for the Moroccans. They moved in. The place still looks French, as they left behind their trademark straight streets and made right angles out of everything- the streets, houses, parks . . .all perfect right angles.
As Abdel and I walked, we just talked about life and all the overtly simply things that people say to each other just because they are walking side by side. He told me that he wanted emigrate to the USA and asked me how he can go about doing it. “I don’t know, Abdel, I am just a peon over there,” I thought, but then proceeded to give him all the advice that I could.
“I have a Moroccan friend who emigrated to the USA,” he began, “and he is now very happy.”
Poor Abdel truly believes in the existence of a land of possibility across the shining sea. What could I tell him? To enjoy his life out in the arid wastes of Morocco? I could not do that. So I offered all the words of encouragement that I could and tried to sound hopeful. “A lot of people get there,” I said, “there is no reason why you can’t be among them.” My statement was the truth.
Abdel and I then walked by a large group of beggars sitting on a street curb. This provoked Abdel to make a comment that I completely took me off guard and left me grasping for my bearings:
“Those people are retard,” he said with his usual mild manner of delivery.
I stumbled a little at the shock of such a callous statement coming from such a modest, kind hearted man. He continued:
“They are just sitting there waiting to die. They eat, drink, and if they smoke cigarettes, smoke just waiting to die. They do no good; they only reproduce. I think that the government should do something about them, I think they should take them away.”
The weight of these harsh words being spoken so calmly, emotionlessly, and almost nicely smacked me into a near fit of exasperated laughter. I was in disbelief that such a statement could be delivered with such a sweet tone of voice.
Abdel then flashed me a little sideways smirk and squinted his bright eyes ever so slightly. He was putting me on a little.
I was becoming rather fond of my new friend, I thought as we entered into the classroom where he would give me my French lessons. It was a small room full of little school child things: crayon drawings on the walls, cartoon drawings of lessons, pink and light blue everywhere, and little school desks that I was somehow suppose to squeeze my man-sized body into.
My first lesson in the French language began with a high paced run down of pronunciation. At one point we were going over the French counting system and Abdel was trying to think of a way to explain why there did not seem to be any reason to it, but then gave up and just exclaimed that:
“The French people are stupid”
I pondered this for a moment and realized that it was a completely ingenious statement. There could be no better explanation for the inconsistencies found in languages than this simple line of reasoning. Next time I am teaching English I am sure to answer all questions the same way. I was beginning to like Abdel’s teaching style.
I soon got the impression that Abdel really believed that education should be the main determinant of social status. He stood in the corner of Athens against a world of Sparta. He was an idealist, struggling against a world and time that did not mirror his ideas. Abdel is a dreamer, and all dreamers live in ideas.
I began feeling pity for this species of dreamers who stubbornly refuse to pervert their dreams into the set forms that providence dished out for them. I want to live and run with these dreamers, who are sure to be shriveled in their graves before they let their cherished dreams dry sterile. I stand among you, fellow dreamers, and I feel joyous pity for our fare in this cold unmoldable universe. Our dreams are our realities, and they are always beautiful.
Moroccan acrobats perform in the large meeting area near the Meknes Medina.