Thursday, March 5, 2009
I walk into the market, all five senses inundated by starkly different stimuli; the intermingling of cumin, nutmeg and cardamom synthesizing a scent of warmth and perfection; bright jilbabs of neon green, turquoise and magenta, embroidered with golden threads and fabricated of such luxurious cloths as silk, velvet and Egyptian cotton; and the deafening bustle of the locals, bartering for bread, spices and love. I pick up the heavy loaf of Moroccan bread, place an exquisitely tasting morsel into my mouth and at once I find home again. I spent years running away from this very place, ensuring my feet would not halt, that my heels would keep pushing on like a nomad in the desert in search of an oasis, only to find that the peaceful area amidst the chaos is right here; Marrakech. It is surrounded by this mayhem of humanity, with the stands concocted of grainy wooden polls draped with silk gauze, forming a cocoon of safety from the sun, that I feel rejuvenated. I hear the market women’s tireless chant of “Caftan 5 dirham. Fez, 2 dirham,” and see the lines of age marking their faces, as these women of soil sit cross-legged on the weathered pavement. I stroll the aisles of the bazaar in a stupor, relieved to be an unrecognizable face in the crowd, to be lost in the commotion that is the market. I look up into the sky; see the cumulous clouds disguised as wondrous flying saucers, Aladdin’s airborne rug, all reminiscent of this throng of women, men and children wailing for attention. Even the Marrakech skies are filled with the turmoil of life. Startled from my reverie, a man with chestnut-leather skin taps me on the shoulder, holding a brown-necked raven. This man, clearly a product of this sun-drenched country, speaks in our mother tongue, an Arabic dialect intertwined with French, and urges me to purchase this indigenous bird, one from the desert sands of the Sahara. I explain in my broken- Arabic, a result of my many years of exile, that I am unable to transport this bird, regardless of its beauty, back to the place I left. And, with wisdom only an elder possessing such enigmatic eyes, portals to the soul that that have seen the earth unravel and then reconstruct itself, the man utters, “Here is the only home for the bird… for you.” I gasp for air, having held my breath at such a declaration of sheer truth, and heave onto the cracked concrete floor, the vomit’s odor intermingling with Moroccan herbs. The infinitesimal fissures in the cement looking like a microscopic web spun by an industrious spider reminds me of this inescapable life; I forever will be rocked within he strong embrace of the Marrakech market’s indescribable beauty.