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95# Times like these

Updated: Jun 25, 2020

- Daaaaadyyyy, pleaaaaase don’t go

- It’s okay, I’ll be right back

- Nooooooo. Don’t gooooooooo…

- Awwwww you’re his hero!

- Yeah! His mom gets jealous haha

My highlights every time I visit Marrakesh are the Uno nights. We gather at someone’s house once a week. It’s all love and fun and until the game starts. We play Uno with custom rules that make the game unfair, brutal and hilarious. Alliances form, treasons are frequent and friendships are strained. The loser gets bullied and must buy expensive pastries for the next Uno night. Classic Marrakesh humor.

The last Uno night was at my friend Kamal’s farm. I helped him take out wood from his trunk and we had a hilarious evening by the fireplace. I laughed my way home. The next morning, I found his car keys in my jacket and had to drive back to the farm. I got to meet his son and newborn daughter during breakfast. His son was adorable. A cheerful three year-old who loved everyone and above all his dad. The little boy was heartbroken when Kamal left for work. A pretty picture that ignited my desire to have a family... One day.

Parting with Kamal I realized that in six weeks, I had not had a single evening with my parents. They were always busy. I wanted to ask them about their youth, about the tyrannical oppression. How was life in their revolutionary days? How they assessed the risks? How they gambled their life and for what exactly? Freedom of speech? A brighter future? I was leaving the next day.

I asked my parents to save our last evening. My dad was out of town hunting and my mom was studying. I wanted to connect with them. To have a simple conversation without phones, TV or random interruptions. A tea party around the fireplace would be the perfect set up. I rushed in the afternoon to pack for my flight and say goodbye to all my friends. The evening was sacred.

My mom came at the end of her day and found me setting up the fireplace. We made small talk then came up to a recurring theme. The hardest thing for her was that both her children lived far away. She only saw us for a few weeks a year which made her sad and lonely. Mom could not live in Canada anymore. She rejected its individualistic society and the cult of the workplace. I agreed.

I tried living in Morocco to be closer to my parents a few years back. I got used to the Canadian standards of freedom and privacy. Morocco was the total opposite so living there was out of the question. I empathized and agreed to visit more often. Being raised in different times and countries, we valued different things. She accepted my positions, with sadness and love.

The second recurrent theme was my sister Kamilia. I do not play the role of the big brother, whatever that means. Mom tried to understand how come we do not get along? How come we grew up with the same values yet are so opposite? I saw the same pattern over and over again. As if the younger sibling builds their identity in opposition to the first one. Beside being siblings and sharing a dark sense of humor, Kamilia and I had nothing in common.

Mom made me promise to take care of Kamilia when she is gone. The thought of it terrified me. I started at the fire in silence. She insisted. I mumbled a promise. A long silence ensued. I added wood to the fire.

The doorbell rang. My dad went for a quick shower and joined Mom on the couch. We asked him about the hunt, he did not speak much. Then as Mom was finishing her sentence, he fell asleep. I woke him up with a loud clap. We laughed, envious of his unique ability to sleep instantly and anywhere. He managed to stay awake for another minute, maybe two.

I was a bit disappointed but at least, I connected with my mom. An open, heartfelt, and non-confrontational conversation I rarely had with my parents. Times like these were what I missed the most on the road. Family.

Maybe I’ll have time to connect with my dad one day... maybe not.


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