2019 Spring Amideast External Programs Gwen Jensen Morocco

The Hands of Morocco

The hands of my taxi driver tap tap tap in rhythm with the muffled radio. Ahead of us lies thick Rabat rush-hour traffic. But the hands of my taxi driver twist and turn the leathery steering wheel expertly through the gaps between cars. The hands of my taxi driver remain glued to the wheel as the head of my taxi driver swivels to exclaim “you speak Arabic!” The hands of my taxi driver collects my fare and juggles my change before jetting off into the sea of cars. The hands of my taxi driver get me around safely, the windows of his taxi show me my city, and the words of my taxi driver act as a guide and vocabulary lesson as we navigate through the city.

The hands of my host mother twist and peel at the long strands of beans, that will appear in tomorrow’s cous cous. The hands of my host mother scrub the stains from my weekend’s adventures, then the hands of my host mother fold the sun dried clothing in time for another week of messes to accumulate. The hands of my host mother pull and tuck my sheets each morning, before I return from school and I flop into the quilts. The hands of my host mother scrub the dirt from the expansive granite staircase that greets visitors of our apartment. The hands of my host mother knock knock knock on my door when I oversleep my alarm. Then the hands of my host mother pour steaming black coffee and wave me off each morning.

The hands of my host sister trace and trace and retrace the same Arabic letters I am trying to learn. She’s six, so our Arabic grammar knowledge is at about the same level. The hands of my host sister wave excitedly through our front window when I walk home from school. The hands of my host sister plop olives into her front-tooth-missing, smiley face.

The hands of my host father gently and wisely sift through the pages of his crisp newspaper. The hands of my host father collect the dishes each night after a meal, then the hands of my host father carry out a towering display of juicy fruits which those same hands selected from the carts of the market. The hands of my host father grip his daughter’s hand as he walks her to and from school– the feet of my host father make this trip 6 times a day. The hands of my host father pours the afternoon’s mint tea, then the words of my host father explain what stories on the nightly news are reporting.

The hands of my professor rewrite the same letters over and over again, stopping to make sure I understand. The hands of my professor slide exams on to my desk and cover my answers in red ink, but also high five me for being better than I was last week. After class my hands repeat the same motion when the hands of my English students shoot in the air– challenging and questioning the lesson my hands taught.

The hands in the market scoop bags of my favorite snacks into neat brown paper sacks that will accompany me on the sleeper train. The hands of the conductor tap tap tap against my seat to wake me up, then the hands of the conductor click click click my ticket stub halfway through the nights twelve hour journey.

The hands of Morocco welcome and teach and wave and become the hands of my friends and the hands of my family.

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