• Donna

What I Wrote When I was Sick in Morocco

Updated: Dec 31, 2018

Moon rising over Saharan sand dunes sunset

Will I remember this moment in my life? Belly-down on a thin mattress in a rectangular room in the Moroccan desert, the soft wool of the blankets that characterize this country against my cheek. Two old ladies persistently assess me and my poor health, buzzing from eyelid to carpet to left shoulder to butt in their black and grey uniforms. Their nursing methods make no sense to me but I’m just a patient, with my cup for hocking snot wads and my mountain of sticky tissues. Outside the iron latticework of the window grate a baby palm tree stands completely still. From in here the air looks like it feels like the sky, warm sunny and blue. Birds a chirping. A great day in late November in the Moroccan desert. In another room of this cement gilded house a child wines in Arabic about the atrocities and horrors he and his fellow toddlers are subjected to in this culture, among them being forced to put down random items they have picked up, snacks that spill when they are dropped and other objects obeying the laws of gravity, older siblings enjoying more freedoms than them, and so on and so forth. Under the cement gilding is a foundation of thousands of mud bricks, taken from the earth and formed in a metal tray. Thousands of mud bricks, each one shaped by the people and friends and family of the people living in this house. The ceiling above is a pattern of diagonal light and dark stained palm fronds. As soon as time wills it, this one-story house in the middle of the Moroccan desert will be a two-story house. But the sick girl atop the thin mattress on the ground downstairs will be long gone by then, as will her sweet old lady nurses. Though maybe their progeny will be a buzzing around still. If you leave this place, this house of mud bricks surrounded by baby date palms and a wall of yet more mud bricks, and walk 10 km east, towards the mountain range, cross the mountain range and walk another 10 or so kilometers until you reach a large sand dune. Start to dig. Dig and dig and dig for a year if it takes, until the sand dune is shifted over a few meters. Then look for the thing that caught the very first sand to blow this way. The seed of the dune. Is it a tiny, totally in-immaculate thing? A twig or a piece of trash? Now spend the next year moving the dune back to where you found it, and live out the rest of your life knowing that even a tiny in-immaculate thing can make a mountain. How do you explain to your little buddy who speaks no English that you don’t want to get him sick, and that’s why you can’t play with him anymore. The irony is that he’s what got you sick in the first place. And it’s cute to think that he’s crying because you won’t play with him but in reality he’s probably been forced to put down something he’s just picked up. He really does hate that type of injustice. Soon I’ll be taking a walk to catch a taxi, then I’ll catch a bus, then I’ll take another walk to another taxi, and then instead of being surrounded by an ocean of sand, I’ll be next to an ocean of salt water. It’s the getting there that I’m worried about, what with my poor condition. And I just know my nurses will be totally against my taking on all that travel. But what’s a homeless traveler to do? And then again maybe my nurses don’t actually care for my welfare, and they were just normal flies all along. Thanks to not being lazy and writing down the things I think instead of just thinking the things I’d like to write down, I will remember this moment in my life. So here’s to that.

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