August 24, 2011
Old Ijjou stopped me on my way to my host family’s house today. She told me to sit with her since we hadn’t chatted in a long time, so I found a spot next to her on her doorstep and listened for a while. It’s always enjoyable to listen to her colorful language, or rather, to watch her colorful hand motions as I can’t understand her old fashioned Tashlheit very well. The motions she makes with her hands to emphasize her points are typically quite clear, however.
Today’s lesson was, as usual, about how I need to skr zamaninu, do/make my time by getting married and having kids before it’s too late. But she added a few extra points today to drive home her message. I can’t understand a lot of what she says, but a few points I got no problem.
1. A girl who doesn’t tskr zaman-ns, do her time, get married and have kids, tga zund tafunast, ends up like a cow (here she made a dopey sort of face and made some indescribable noises to imitate a cow-girl).
2. If a girl gets to be as old as her (Ijjou is, the story goes, about 105 years old, and I’d just about believe it), and doesn’t have kids, no one will be around to take care of her. She won’t have work or food or a place to stay.
Around this point in the lesson, Ijjou’s daughter-in-law entered the conversation briefly. The old woman exclaimed to her quite forcefully, “ar-t saqraH, ar-t saqraH” — “I’m teaching her, I’m teaching her!” The daughter-in-law moved on with her work and we continued with our lesson.
3. Finally, the key point she made, was the difference between the “love” of a man and the love of one’s children. She said, “A man will leave you (verb unclear, but that’s the gist). He’s only interested in your knees and your vagina.” Here, she didn’t say knees or vagina, but she patted herself while saying “this and this.” In the local context and language, “knees” would mean work and “vagina” would mean, well, sex. “But your kids,” she said, “they love you for this,” and patted her chest. They won’t abandon you because they love you for your heart and who you are — their mother.
After she shared these bits of wisdom with me, she followed up with a hearty “wakhay babak!” (Basically, “you better watch out, your dad is gonna get you!”, said most often to little kids who aren’t doing as they should.) She repeated several times, even raising her cane from under her feet and wagging it over my head, telling me she’d beat me if I didn’t skr zamaninu.
As for a bit of analysis on her main points… I’m not exactly sure what she meant by Point #1. Maybe that a girl (as an unmarried woman of any age is called her) who doesn’t have kids will be a bit aimless in life?
Point #2 is pretty darn likely to come true here in rural Morocco. Women in the rural areas depend quite a lot on their relatives. That’s not to say there aren’t any opportunities for them without the help of male relatives, and what opportunities there are are increasing slowly but surely. Life can be hard here for anyone, male or female, who doesn’t have others in their life.
I don’t have a lot to say on Point #3. It could be true anywhere, for anyone, I suppose. I thought it was interesting that she included in today’s lesson.
For me, I imagine I’ll see how Point #1 plays out. Thankfully I believe I have more ahead of me than a cow-like existence, even without children or a man. That being said, I’ll still enjoy the next lesson old Ijjou wants to give me.