Back to 1961!
I was 4 years old when we left our home, in Constantinople street and moved to a big old house in ‘Habous area’. Al Ahbas is an ancient and traditional neighbourhood, close to the royal palace.
I was a small child and couldn’t comprehend why? My father decided at that time, that he wanted to live close to the mosque, so he could carry out the dawn prayer ‘Salat Alfadjr’ at the big mosque ‘Mohamadie’, only two steps away from our new house.
I still recall my first impression of the big residence we moved into. Spacious living rooms, with a big patio totally open to the sky. The family that used to live in that house, was fond of plants. One of the living rooms was full of vegetations, even onion was hanging on the wall. The big patio was wet, since it was raining into the house from the open sky dome.
One of the rooms that caught my attention was converted to a sleeping space, with a big alcove ‘Dachkchoucha’ in the corner, the rest was empty and odd.
The kitchen was weird, all black with smoke. It had a scary and mysterious basement, I didn’t dare to approch.
A traditional steam bath, was placed in the middle of the kitchen and was giving off an unpleasant smell. The whole atmosphere, made me feel bumpy and anxious. Nobody paid attention to my despair, my misery was imperceptible to my parents, none of them felt my anguish. I guess because everybody was experiencing the same unhappiness.
I still remember my mother complaining, about us leaving our real home to come to that eccentric place. The decision was made by my father, and nobody was allowed to question it.
I couldn’t enter the kitchen by myself, I was somehow haunted by the idea, of coming across some mice or rats, I heard about these creatures and was petrified at the thought of them.
My universe became suddenly gloomy, all the environment I had to face was odd and fearful.
This was my first contact with my home in 1961.
In the summer of 1962 my father sent us to Meknes as usual, to spent the summer vacation at my grand-mother’s. He decided to stay at home, in order to renovate, and redecorate the interior of our new house.
What a big relief, I felt when I came back! The kitchen turned into a white and clean place. The ugly bath disappeared, the living rooms became bright and cosy. The whole house seemed friendlier to me.
I couldn’t weigh up my father’s sacrifice at that time. I just felt a little bit less anxious. I started to put up with the big change in my small life.
My elder sister and I were granted a big room, while my little sister Aziza was still a baby and slept in my mother’s room. My brother got a room for himself.
Our traditional and big house grew big in our hearts. The Muezzin of the big Mohamadi mosque, became part of our life, as he called for prayer five times a day.
My father acquired a big clock for 2.50 dirhams at that time, and hung it in the patio, it was striking recurrently, and never stopped until he passed away in 1992.
We had our butcher ‘Hadj Abbas’ where my father used to buy meet, and get all the vegetables we needed, for we used to make our shopping daily. There was no freezer at that time , only a refrigerator. Food had to be consumed fresh, on a daily basis.
My first Kindergarten was not far from home. My father’s friend enrolled me there with his daughter. I used to enjoy the time at that school, the classroom was full of toys, but we were not allowed to touch them, they were out of our reach. After class, we got a nice snack.
One day my father had to take me to school, cause I was late. When we arrived, he got upset all of a sudden, and pulled me back ‘ No! We are going back home, he said’.
My frustration was unbearable, for I couldn’t figure out my father’s reaction. Sometime after I heard my mum talking about the issue with my aunt. My father changed his mind about the school, when he saw a big crucifix hanging on the wall.
My former school ‘Maintenant’ was a catholic one, and my father, as a true Moslem couldn’t tolerate that his daughter goes to a non Moslem School.