Encore

This morning Anas and I decided to go to Oasis, a water park on the outskirts of Marrakesh. Sarah asked to come along, too. As we were finalizing our plans, I received a shocking piece of news: Latifa had stayed back in Marrakesh for another day instead of leaving with her family for Casablanca. The alarm bells went off in my head again. What was she up to? Out of courtesy, I invited her to join us at Oasis.

Anas, Sarah, and I met Latifa at the water park. A sign at the cashier’s counter caught my eye. It showed drawings of two couples. The first couple was fully clothed, and there was a line across them to indicate that such attire was prohibited. The second couple wore Western swimming clothes — trunks and bikini. This was the appropriate attire. Here again was another instance of the dichotomy between Western and Islamic ideals. Latifa, of course, could not bathe because she was fully clothed, but Sarah, who wore a bikini, could. I couldn’t help feeling bad for Latifa who sat in the glaring sun waiting for us while the three of us went swimming.

Afterwards, we parted with Latifa for the third and final time. She took a taxi to the train station, and we took a bus provided by the park back to the city.

Later tonight I took Faical’s family out to dinner. Since tonight is my last in Morocco, I wanted to treat the family. I wanted to take them to a nice restaurant, but Faical insisted that there were too many of them. Finally, we agreed to go to a cheaper place and take everyone. In addition to Faical and his immediate family, Sarah and another cousin came, too. We went to Jama al-Fna and had shawarmas at a small restaurant. Afterwards I bought ice-cream for Faical’s mother and myself.

As we walked out of the square, a little boy came running behind us. He went up to Faical’s cousin who now had his mother’s ice-cream cone and begged it from her. Then he came running to me and stretched out his arm for me to give him mine, too. His boldness amused me. I handed him my cone as well, and he ran off.

We decided to walk for a while, and after we had gone some distance, the women asked me to sing a song. By now my inhibition had greatly diminished. I let loose the same verses of the DDLJ song that I know. I sang with unprecedented virtuosity. We happened to be by a tree when I came to a finish, so I hooked my arm around the trunk and swung around in a mock reenactment of a typical Indian dance sequence. The Moroccans loved it and broke out in laughter. When the laughter subsided, Faical’s other cousin asked me to sing again. The same lines? I protested. Yes, she implored, the voice is so beautiful. I was greatly flattered, but I didn’t want to sing the same lines again. I couldn’t think of another song, so I demurred.

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