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5/2/10 Chitchat

Due to an odd and unfortunate series of events, I ended up having a longer conversation with Ama than I usually get to.

The conversation rambled, as long talks tend to do. Here are some of my favorite bits:

Ama: You'll be in America so soon!
Me: So soon.
Ama: And then you'll find a man and get married and have a big wedding!
Me: If God wills.
Ama: Here, you can't find a man. Moroccan men suck. But in America, you'll find a good man.
Me: [starting to protest her blanket condemnation of Moroccan men, then letting it go.] Inshallah.
Ama: In America, you can dress all sexy.
Me: [startled laughter]
Ama: You'll go to parties and wear little dresses like this [pantomimes strapless dresses, like the one she saw me wearing in a photo from my one bridesmaid stint] and get a man fast.
Me: [still laughing]
Ama: Here in Morocco, you have to cover up all the time. But in America, you can be sexy.
Me: [giving up on speech, falling over laughing]

A bit later, I thought of something.

Me: Oh, when Hassan comes, he might be embarrassed when you feed the baby.
Ama: What? I don't understand.
Me: In America, it's Hshuma to see a woman's breasts. They don't have to be covered very much [we laugh], but they have to be covered.
Ama: Really?
Me: Yes. It's very, very, very Hshuma to see a woman's breasts. So when you feed the baby, Hassan will look somewhere else. [I pantomime a series of evasive, embarrassed acts.] So if he looks down, or away, or suddenly starts talking to Baba - he's not crazy, he's just trying not to see your breasts.
Ama: But it's no big deal. If my husband is here, if my dad is here, if a male cousin is here...
Me: I know. Even on a transit, when strange men are around, a woman will pull out her breast to feed her baby. But it's strange for us. Because in America, that would never happen. When I was new here, I acted evasive around breastfeeding mothers, too. But then I got used to it. And Hassan will probably get used to it. But at first, he'll be awkward.
Ama: OK, I understand. Different people have different Hshuma things.
Me: Right.
Ama: Like once, Baba brought a group of tourists, and they were all eating dinner. One of them farted really loudly, so the kids and I were all shocked, because that's really Hshuma. They noticed that we were startled, and asked Baba what was wrong. He explained, and they said that there's nothing embarrassing about farting - it's a compliment to the chef.
Me: [laughing] Wow.
Ama: And another time, we took the kids up to [a city 2 hours north]. There, it's really Hshuma to notice when the goats are screwing, but here, it's just normal. So Mohammed pointed out to his auntie that the goats were going at it, and everyone began Hshuma-ing him. He was confused, and his auntie explained that you aren't supposed to talk about it. He said, "But why? In Berberville, we can talk about it."
Me: Right, different places have different customs.
Ama: OK, I understand. So maybe I should cover up with a blanket when I'm nursing?
Me: No, don't worry about it. He'll get used to it.

A little later...

Me: So you know how I told you that my friend Ali was coming to visit?
Ama: Yeah. Shouldn't he be here by now?
Me: I just heard from him - he's not coming.
Ama: Why?
Me: He spent all morning waiting for a taxi to fill up, and they kept asking him to buy out extra seats. They wanted him to pay for two seats, three seats...
Ama: Shame on them!
Me: I know! But he said, "No, I can't afford that, I'll wait for the taxi to fill up."
Ama: Right. Because you volunteers don't have a lot of money.
Me: Exactly! So they waited and waited. Finally, they had enough people - and the driver still insisted that Ali pay double!
Ama: What!? He can't do that.
Me: I know! Shame on him!
Ama: Ali should report this to the Caid. Or the gendarmes. Or both. That's just wrong.
Me: Yeah, he said he was going to tell his friend in the Caid's office.
Ama: Good.

The conversation rambled all over the place, touching on her kids, my future plans, the apartment I rent from her and Baba, and pretty much everything else. I told her that my American mom wanted to thank her for taking such good care of me; she assured me that all moms worry, but that it'll be better when I'm back in America. Of course, that's when she'll start to worry about me.

See why I don't want to leave?

1 comment:

  1. Sometime your replacement should help Ama to talk to you on Skype, if he gets internet at the place where you're staying now. I think she'd really like that.


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