Thursday, 11 May 2017

What I learnt about ‘prettyness’ from my new friend Fati


I turn up at my usual sandwich bar for lunch : there is a new girl working there who has noticed me the last three days. She likes that I try to order in Darija, or Moroccan Arabic, and we all have a laugh with my pronunciation. Today she tells me that I am very zwina (pretty) … NO! say I, YOU are very pretty, ‘ana chibaniya ou haiba’ (I am old and ugly). Today I am feeling very weary ...

She laughs and says that I am completely wrong: ‘In Morocco when we say pretty, we mean the eyes, the nose, the expression on the face – we are not worried about the SKIN!’

(They don´t have to be worried about it of course – they all have wonderful skin, the result of hammams and great diet and SUN).

Then she asks me if I have any friends, or any children (!) in Morocco. I say some to the former, and no to the latter. She says that foreigners don´t seem to mix very much with Moroccans and she thinks it’s a shame. She suggests she could be just a shweeeeeeeya (small) friend of mine. Her name is Fatima, she says, but her friends call her Fati and so I can too now.

My takeaway salad arrives (everyone rushing to make sure I have what I need, filling little paper bags with salt and pepper, and a tiny plastic container with harissa sauce, which I like on everything). 

‘Bslema (bye) Fati’, I say, and walk jauntily away down the road thinking that my new young friend has taught me a thing or two now about what ‘pretty’ is. I feel almost confident!


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