There was mention recently in raioo about the dire need of in depth research, statistics and analysis of weddings and sexuality in Morocco. I am sure that the need is equally critical for other topics as subtle as farming, spirituality or bourgeoisie. By in depth, I don't really mean the 2M or RTM fast forward documentaries that barely touch the surface of reality and fail to unleash the surreality and morale, except for 2M's Grand Angle - they try hard and do a better job. By in depth, I mean serious and strong academic research initiated and led by experts and students of anthropology, sociology, psychology, linguistics and more. I carried on a quick search on Google and was lucky enough to find a study conducted by an American anthropology expert Professor Kevin Dwyer. I started reading the first chapter of the book and got extremely intrigued by the style and the content. I am sharing merely a glimpse of what I read so far. It is a fascinating dialogue between the American and a Moroccan farmer in the year 1975. Someone by the name of Faqir Muhammad Bel 3ayashi Sherardi. Mahjoub and Antr might get a big kick out of it. Happy reading, and apologies if there are spelling mistakes and typos. I tried to copy/paste from the PDF for those who prefer to read it in-line. I also omitted the footnotes. Otherwise, I would recommend you open up the PDF and read it in its originally published form. The publisher used a beautiful font and of course organizes the content better and you'll be able to read the footnotes and more chapters.
I wish 2M or RTM creates a program of National Geographic quality and standard especially focused on the Moroccan society. The documentaries could be in the form of the expert or experts embedded within the study environment for an extended period of time so that they can extract value and help the viewer develop a relationship and core understanding of the subject. They can study the diverse regions and tribes. They can study people (teenagers, middle-age, elderly, women), or traditions (hospitality, weddings, festivals), or behaviors (self-esteem, sexuality, creativity, freedom, depression, spirituality). The sky is the limit. This sort of invested programs would be a mirror, an inner dialogue of a Moroccan, especially in times when everyone seems to be riding a global wave and somehow prone to losing their authentic identity and focus in the process.
But for now, what do you think of this dialogue.. almost a third of a century later?
Moroccan Dialogues: Anthropology in Question (Kevin Dwyer, The John Hopkins University Press)
RESEARCH TASKS IN QUESTION
I arrived in Morocco in June 1975 with no specific research task
planned. I suspected that a clear research project, designed to respond to
current theoretical concerns in anthropology, would tend to suppress and
severely distort the spontaneity and normal behavior of people I encountered,
forcing them to fit into categories, modes, and aspects defined by
the project. In particular, I had no intention to construct a "life history,"
an informantís "autobiography." I simply wanted to spend the summer
with people I cared about and who seemed to care about me.
Several issues had perplexed me ever since 197 1. when I first realized
that my relationship with the Faqir had become important to both of us
in a way that went beyond what were then the needs of my research. I
wondered, first of all, what made this relationship important to both of
us; what was the relationship between the Faqir, a >loroccan villager,
and me, a New Yorker, built upon? Second, what significance did this
relationship have for the practice of anthropolop-? After all, the relationship
was born within the context of an anthropology that takes the
encounter between individuals of different societies as its primary research
tool, yet this relationship had had no explicit place in my dissertation
nor, as far as I could see, any easy position in the genres other
anthropologists had written in. Finally, I was dismayed that, with so
much of my relationship with the Faqir expressed verbally, my written
notes captured it so inadequately and most of it was quickly lost as my
memory of it faded; and that, unlike other people I felt close to, the
disruption imposed by long periods of absence could not be partially
relieved by letter writing (except of the most rudimentary sort, because
the Faqir is illiterate).
A "RECORD" OF FIELDWORK
With little more than these thoughts, poorly articulated, in the back of
my mind, I thought I would try to record talks with the Faqir on tape,
something we had not done much during my earlier visits to Morocco.
For the first talk, I had no definite subject in mind, nor was I certain
that either of us would have any desire to talk into a tape recorder
again. I prepared only two specific questions (in "What do you think
about . . . ?"), but also noted in key words a number of broad subjects
that I intended to ask about in a vaguely chronological order (in
"Work. . . marriages . . . Colonial period . . . ).
WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT.. . ?
Faqir, you spend a lot of time working out in the fields. What do you think
about while youíre working??
I look at what Iím working at, and Iím concerned about what will come
from it. Letís say that Iím beginning the plowing. You know, Iíd like to
see the crop come up well--corn, or barley, or farina, or gourds. Iíd
hope there would be enough of it to eat a bit in our home and to sell a
bit, in order to be able to buy sugar.
In earlier times, you know, there wasnít the kind of work outside the
homestead that there is today. Now, if you can send one son to work on
the farms3 heíll bring back sugar, or heíll bring back soap, or something
that heís bought for his wage. But in those times there was nothing
outside of our own cultivation. Nothing. Youíd have to get sugar from
that, and soap, and clothes. Youíd have to get a living from it-everything.
All the men who were living in the house at that time would work
in their fields or be shepherds. In the early years. there was no outside
work on the farms. And even if you worked for someone else in the
village, your pay was just the food for your stomach: work was paid
If you think about your life, what do you see as important in it?
Well. . . [the Faqir paused]. . . I have a lot of thoughts. And during my
life, every year, new thoughts, new ideas come to me: this is a question of
age. But what is important to me now is the situation we are in now, the
times that we are living in now.
What is important to you about this?
Whatís important is: Iím concerned that, after knocking myself out
over work, I can get enough to eat. And, wait a second, there is more. I
donít want to run around and eat out in the wilds; I hope not to steal, or
to get into fights, or to cause the smallest problem. I hope to work as I
am able, to sit on the ground and eat what God provides, as I am able; to
be free, not owing anyone anything; and to be far away from places
where there are arguments. And that if I have something to say, I will
settle upon my words at home, before I go outside, and will not enter
into a dispute with anyone.
There was a time, earlier in my life, when my only concern was to take
what I made into the wilds. That is, eating at home gave me no joy: I
enjoyed only those things that can be done outside, in other places, in
places that arenít proper. What I ate in our home was no fun at all.
Did you have these thoughts when you were a boy?
No. When I was a boy, I had neither these thoughts nor the others. I
didnít think about enjoyment on the outside, or about enjoyment in the
home. I only thought about what Iíd eat and what Iíd wear.
And when did you begin to have those wayward though.tsY
When I reached the age of fasting, when I was fourteen or fifteen
years old.4 Then I began to think only of taking what I had to the wilds.
Only that I be really good-looking, better than everyone else; and tougher
than everyone else; and a bigger operator than everyone else. I hoped
for all that. But I didnít work at this seriously. Most of my running
around was a waste, it just passed. But then, I didnít have the thoughts I
WORK. . . MARRIAGES. . . COLONIAL PERIOD . . .
When you began to fast, what kind of work were you doing?
Always in our own farming, for our house. You know, I never worked
for someone in the village, unless I worked his land in partnership, or
contracted for a special task. I never asked for day labor. When I worked
for them, I was still free: when the work was finished, he and I would
I did work for a time outside of our farming, on the first European
farm that was set up in our region, that of Monsieur Friks. He came
from Belgium and was sent here by some company. I worked for him for
about three years and at the same time I worked on our own farming.
My job was to dig the ditches for the orange trees.
When was this?
Oh, about five years before the rationing period."
What was this Friks like?
Friks, all in all, was all right. But he was a tough one!
Well, if he had dealt with you and had turned to go, he would never
turn back, he would go straight ahead. And he would never glance
sideways as do other Christians, or as the Arabs do: when he wanted to
look sideways he would turn his whole body. And if he happened to pass
you by, you had to run after him until you got in front of him: heíd
never turn around. And if he said anything to you at all, donít answer
him back, donít say, "No." Donít say, "Itís not like that." Just say, "Good,
fine." And do what he told you.
His wife was a crafty-one. Sheíd turn around, come and bend down
with the boys, look at the workers. She was crafty, his wife. But not Friks.
Why did you stop zlorking for Friks?
Well, I left because my own farming was suffering and I had to return
to it. At that time, you know, I only planted barley or corn. If I wanted to
sow corn, for example, Iíd have to wait until Saturday-we were off
from the work on the farm Saturdays-and Iíd have to ask for Friday off
in order to do the plowing. And when it was my turn to irrigate my land
from the canals, Iíd have to ask for the day off in order to irrigate.
You didnít cultivate vegetables then?
I couldnít because the work on the farm kept me away, it didnít allow
me the time to do vegetables.
Couldnít your brother have helped you?
He was too young, about Hmidaís age [Hmida, the oldest son of the
Faqirís brother, Ali, was about seven years old].6 There was only me and
my two sisters, and my mother.
You were still living in the village at that time, werenít you?
Yes, we lived on our family land in the village. I was born there, and,
when I was small, we went to live for about two years in another village. I
donít remember that at all. Then we came back here, and my father died
just then. After our father died, we remained in the village a long time,
until independence, when we moved here.í
After your father died, who took care of the house?
I did. My mother would tell me what to do and Iíd go and do it. Iíd go
to market to sell clarified butter and Iíd carry it in my cupped hands like
this. I wouldnít even go on a donkey.
Didnít your mother or anyone else help in the farming?
No, I was the one who did the farming. Iíd struggle with a pair of cows
for the plowing when I was just I-ĎAribiís age [one of the Faqirís sons, age
twelve]. Even that small, Iíd struggle with them. My mother would just
tell me, "Go there," or "Do this" or "Do that". And I couldnít tolerate
that at all, that she would direct me. Even at 1-ĎAribiís age, I couldnít
stand that. So I did what I wanted, myself.
Then too, Iíd deal with outsiders. Iíd work their land in partnership,
and if guests came to visit Iíd host them myself. And when taxes were
due, Iíd go to friends of my father to borrow. Iíd say to them, "Let me
have some money to pay the tax," and theyíd give me money. When it
was due, Iíd pay it back. And if I had a calf to sell, Iíd take it to market
and Iíd ask someone to help me drive it there. But Iíd sell it myself,
alone. Theyíd try to get the better of me and Iíd try to get the better of
them. Thatís how things were until I grew up and things settled down.
And you hadnít yet married?
No, not yet. After I got back from working on that European farm, I
farmed here for a while, and then the rationing period came. As that
started, I got married.
Whom did you marry?
A woman from the Medina,8 from the neighborhood of the Grand
How did you get to know her?
You know how! It was during those wayward years that we were
talking about before. Well, for a long time before that I had been wasting
my time; and then I had gotten to know this woman in the Medina.
But I didnít want to get married and I was getting sick and tired of
running around. I didnít know what to do.
So I said, "Let me try to go to work in Bordeaux." I went to Rabat, but
with no luck. The war with Germany had just started, and they stopped
taking people to Bordeaux to work. So I came back here, absolutely
broke. I had nothing. And nothing to do. Nothing, nothing, nothing.
When I got back here the corn hadnít yet been sowed, so I sowed it, and
began to work at settling down a bit. I usually managed to get together
enough money for sugar; if not, I didnít drink tea at all.
How did you make that money?
Well, Iíd get some by selling a bit of clarified butter from the cow, or a
bit of argan oil, or some argan nutshells. Or Iíd sell grass feed in the
markets. And Iíd bring back a bit of sugar with that. As for food, Iíd
bring it in from the farming. And then, I got married.
Why did you get mu&d then?
Well, I said to myself, "Itís not good for this fooling around to go on
much longer." I was beginning to get some sense. And my mind had
been divided between here and the Medina, my head was too heavy, it
wasnít in harmony. So I said, "Iíll bring here what is holding my mind in
So you brought the woman here. How long did she stay?
For three years.
And there were no children?
No. No children. She stayed here for three years, and it came to
nothing. And I divorced her.
Why did you divorce her?
A lot. A lot. [The Faqirís responses were terse, and he seemed very
About something specfx?
She wasnít happy, she wasnít happy at all. She would say that she
didnít like it here and I couldnít accept that.
Was she a Medina woman originally?
Yes, she was a lledina woman-she didnít speak Berber. She was born
in the Medina and died in the Medina, thatís all.
Did she take to the work out here?
She took to the work and knew it all; but it didnít go easily with her.
And we say, "What is built without foundation, falls."
What does that mean?
Well . . . a marriage without good roots is no good. You know, our
acquaintance wasnít made in the right way, it was made in the street. We
got to know each other the wrong way. It wasnít nice, not nice at all.
So your mother didnít know this woman?
No, my family didnít know about her until I told them, until I told
them that I wanted to bring her home. But, in fact, they had known
something, they had suspected something. They had asked me about it
until they tired of it. And I kept saying, "There is no one. I donít know
anyone." Well, this thing was dragging on, and they told me that if I
really needed that woman, that I must bring her home. They saw that
the noise in my head was too much. So I went and brought her here.
What do you mean, "The noise was too much"?
Theyíd say, "You have something outside," and Iíd say, "Nothing. I
donít know anyone." And theyíd say, "Whatís the matter with you? If
youíve gotten to know someone, bring her here. Weíll all partake of what
God has given." So that I wouldnít leave work undone, or take everything
and spend it in the wilds. And so that there would be children, and
that my mind would be centered on the home. Well, when they spoke to
me in this way, I thought things over. I saw that there was no way for me
to let the woman go, no way to break up with her. So I married her.
You know, we had been together for three years, she and I. And I
found her good, she had taken root in me. She didnít hold herself back
from me, she didnít cheat on me, and she was very fond of me. For a
time, I was looking for a way to break with her but I couldnít find one. I
was looking for a reason to let her go, for some defect in her, but I
couldnít find one. She was fine. She would do whatever Iíd tell her, and
she was very fond of me. Thatís why she stuck in my mind.
Perhaps she had put a spell on YOU?~
Perhaps. You donít know, one canít know that. The most powerful
spell is one that works on your will. If the woman is insolent and does
sorcery thatís a different thing. But the real spell is one that works on the
So this woman said to me, "Wherever you tell me to go, Iíll go." And
she left her family, and came to us here. That is what I desired. I was
tired of getting nowhere, of having nothing for her. I-ou know, I would
go to her broke, with nothing, and she would bring food for us from her
And she was very fond of you?
Very much, much more than is usual. We were entangled, tied together,
thatís all. Just as you and I are tied together now. Thatís it. I
couldnít break with you, I couldnít say, "Get out, you -American. Out of
the way!" I couldnít do that, now. I couldnít, even if I were to die.
So much the better.
Well, you know weíre not lying, by God. You and I have partaken of so
much, so much. It is now inscribed, with God.
Well, thatís the reason.
When you married, whom did you live with?
With my mother, and my brother and sisters; and with the family of
my motherís brother. Our family was together then, on our land in the
village. But each had its own hearth.lO
Did your wife get on well with your mother?
Did they fight at all?
Yes, a bit, she and my mother fought a bit. My mother would say to
me, "No children. There are no children." And I was worrying, I too was
worrying that my life was going by and that there were no children. I was
worried about that and my wife probably overheard something. She
understood what was meant and she probably said to herself, "There are
no children, and these people perhaps donít want me here any more."
Then she said to me, "Take me home." And I took her home.
So she wasnít hap@ here?
No, not with those words that she had heard. She was happy-wherever
I was, she could be happy. But she understood that because there
were no children, people would be disrespectful toward her.
Were you of the same opinion, that you should bring her back to her house?
Well, if the commotion was going to continue, then I had to take her
away. If it had quieted down, I wouldnít have taken her away. But with
all the disturbance-it was too much.
What was on your mind at that moment?
When the noise became too much, I thought, "Enough, Iíll take her
home." And the first time, we had gotten as far along the road as that
first riverbed when she said, "Letís return. I donít want to leave. I want
to go back with you." And I brought her back to my home.
Then, a second time, I took her away. This time. just as we reached the
city walls, she kissed my head: "Donít tell my father or mother. Just tell
them that weíve come to see them." I went and bought some sugar, and
we went to visit them. Just as you have come to us now. And we didnít say
anything. My head was turning this way and that. .\nyway, we kept quiet
and stayed with them two or three days, and her family gave us corn
flour and a container of olive oil, and they slaughtered a chicken for us.
Then we came back here.
And then, about five months later, I brought her to her house again,
just the same way. And again she changed her mind and kissed the top
of my head: "Donít tell them anything, please." Again we stayed two or
three days and came back here.
The final time-wait, I forgot something. On that occasion I just mentioned,
after she had gone out of her house, I returned to her father. I
said to him: "You shouldnít think that when we visited you months ago,
we visited you freely. We came for this reason and for that. But when we
got here, your daughter pleaded with me. We didnít want to ruin your
pleasure, and we kept quiet, and went back to our land. Now, again, we
have not come to you freely."
What did her father say, God rest his soul. He said to me, "My son." I
answered, "Yes ?" He said: "That day, no one brought you two together,
you got to know one another yourselves. And now, she is my only daughter,
and I love her very much. I couldnít hit her. She is now grown up,
and she no longer fears me. If you decide to continue together, the two
of YOU, thank God and God bless you. If you no longer have the same
good humor as you had in those days, then split up. But you mustnít
think that you are no longer welcome here. Believe that you are my son
and she is my daughter. If you take her, you are always welcome here; if
you donít take her, you are always welcome here. Now go and come to an
agreement, or else separate." That was the second time.
Finally, the third time, I just brought her into their house, and I ran
away. I beat it and came back here, and that was that.
Did you ever return to their house after that?
I never went there again. After I came back here, I sold some sheep in
order to get the one thousand two hundred rials for the dowry; l l one
thousand two hundred rials at that time was difficult. I sold the sheep
and went to her motherís sisterís son. I said to him, "Listen friend, you
must go to this woman and tell her that we have to meet at the scribeís."
Why didnít you go to her house to tell her?
I didnít want to embarrass her father. For her father had told me: "If
you stay together, you should have only the best; but if she wants to
separate, I canít force her to stay. If you separate, whenever you want to
come here, youíre xvelcome. " So her motherís sisterís son went for her,
and we met at the scribeís.
The scribe asked her, "Does this man owe you anything; has he taken
anything that was yours.J" Because she had brought some things to our
house from her first marriage-a light rug, one heavy rug, a brass kettle
and brazier, and a table. The scribe said to her, "Hasnít he taken anything
from you?í She said "No." He said, "Does he owe you anything?"
She told him, "Ko." He said, "Youíre not carrying a child?" She said,
"No." He said, "Well, do you two want a divorce now?í And she said,
"Well, sir, thatís what he wants." Thatís what she said. And he said,
"Hereís your money."
Was she actually in agreement about the divorce?
She had to, of necessity. But she could no longer speak. She began to
Didnít she say anything?
What could she say? Could she say, "I want him against his will?" Well,
when we split up there, I gave her that dowry of 1,200 rials, she was
given her divorce paper, and that was that.
I came home, and I remained unmarried for about four years.
Did you think about her afterwards?
Yes. I still think about her. Itís painful, itís painful. For three years,
perhaps four, I remained unmarried.
Did you see her at all after the divorce?
No, not until about two years later. Then, when weíd see one another
in the marketplace, sheíd come and greet me, or Iíd greet her. Anyway,
after those four years, I got married again.
Did she marry again too?
No, she didnít marry again. She did nothing. She stayed until I got
married again and then she died, just then. I had just been remarried
for three months or so when she died.
During those four years when you were single, did you associate much with your
friends in the village?
I had friends, but I cut them off, cut them all off. There was all that ill
will during the rationing period, and then I had that unhappiness from
the divorce. I cut down on everything. For two years, I couldnít even
bear talking to people. For two years. Iíd go down to do my farming,
early in the morning, and Iíd come back at sunset. Iíd see no one and no
one would see me.
After that divorce, it was exile! There was misery from one direction,
for at that time there wasnít a good crop, and that separation from the
other. I was in anger. For two years, I couldnít stand talking to anyone. I
donít know whether it w-as a spell, as you said, I donít know. I was like an
animal, I didnít want people, no one at all. No one at all.
What did you work at during those years?
Farming, thatís all. Just farming. I grew some vegetables, a bit of
watermelon, some gourds, corn, and fava beans. Weíd substitute the fava
beans for the corn sometimes, because they gave a high yield and weíd
sell them, not eat them much at all. And Iíd sell clarified butter and
But you didnít have much land then?
I had some of my own, and I worked some parcels of others.
When did you be
Three years went by and then, during the next year, I was looking to
get married. How did I look? l2 I said, "All that has gone before was
worth nothing. What I need.. .
What had been worth nothing?
All that noise, all that waste, that wild life. I needed, for myself, to
become humble, to make do with what is here. And to marry someone
humble. That is how I saw things then. And by then my sister had
married, and her husband had a sister, and I married her.
So, before getting married that second time, you thought you wanted a woman who
who was, you know, of a small mind,
without the build or the style of a city woman. You know the type. She
should be a country woman and humble like us. This one was an orphan;
her father was dead and so was mine. Well, those were the reasons.
And I said to myself, "This way, Iíll be in peace."
When you were a married man, did you used to gather with other villagers?
No, very rarely, and only with those I knew well. I didnít hang around
with street friends. I was married and they werenít, so I didnít go around
with them. Once I got married, I didnít sit around with people.
You didnít go to parties?
No. If there was a general village party, to which everyone went, all
right. But special parties, like those with peers-no, nothing. I stayed out
of friendship circles. l 3
When you did get together with your ftieno!s, in those times, what did you talk
Well, weíd talk about what so-and-so did, or weíd joke around; and
weíd drink tea, thatís all. Like the gatherings of Qebbor. I4
Did you talk about colonialism, or about France?
No. We didnít comprehend "colonialsm" then or know much about
the French. And we couldnít say either, "Frenchmen" or "colonialism."
You couldnít say the words?
No, never, Words about the government couldnít be said. Someone
might hear you and that would mean punishment. And the government
kept us busy with work; weíd have to work fifteen days, and then again
four days, each year. Then, right after the war with Germany, they
began to work us fifteen days every two months. And there was always
work to be done for the qaid. l5 Whenever they found you, whenever
you went out on the road, the sheikh might find you and say to you, "Get
wood and bring it to the qaidís house," or "Get some grass feed toí the
qaidís . "
And was that work paid for?
Never. Whenever they found you--íit could be today and then again
tomorrow-you were never given anything, except some punishment
perhaps. Iíd just try to stay near the house and do my own work. Trouble
came from every direction.
What was the rule of the qaid like in those days?Ď"
In the beginning it was good-he would judge with the Law. Youíd say
to him, "Rule over me by God and by Islamic Law," and heíd clout you
and tell you, "I am myself the Law." He would judge then and there, and
if you owed a rial youíd pay it right then. Or go to prison until you paid.
None of this shilly-shallying. No delaying, not even one hour. The money,
And the Qaid Bushíib would look at the guy from afar and know what
was in his head. If he didnít see this at first, heíd say, "Go back and
return to me again." When the guy would return to him heíd know what
was in his head. Sometimes the qaid would put his hand on the fellowís
and from that know what was in his head. Amazing work there.
So, he ruled alone?
He ruled alone, for thirty years. From the time I was I-ĎAribiís age
[about twelve]. Toward the end, just before independence, the French
control officer was with him. And for a while, earlier, a captain, a fellow
of Jewish origin.
Was that fellow actually a Jew?
He had been a Jew, but he had become French. He was a shrewd one,
very shrewd. Whenever he thought the sheikhs were giving him problems,
he would remind them, "Listen, sheikhs. You know that the Qaid
Bushíib and I are holding the cow by the horns for you, and that you are
milking it." That is, "Weíre holding the government and youíre taking
turns milking it." He had some manner! He was short, very very short,
In any event, when that French control officer came on the scene, the
qaid began to grab for money. In his early days, heíd never take money,
and heíd be concerned for the poor people-he was Number One. But
toward the end, when the control officer ruled with him, when his command
was divided, it was as though the government no longer had faith
in him, as though he no longer had its confidence. So he began to grab
for money. And then, too, the nationalist movement was clearing the
What was the nationalist movement about?
Morocco began to make noise, to have organizations. People began to
get together at night: "Letís get so-and-so. We want to do this. We want
to speak for ourselves. We want to be free." It was concerned with
freedom, and it had been going on for a long time before we found out
about it, for twenty-six years before independence. Part of the movement
was here, part in Casablanca, part in every region. But it was led
from Casablanca. And whenever anyone in it was discovered, they were
arrested, or killed, or beaten.
Wait, letís go back a bit,. to your second marriage. l7 How did that wedding
We registered it, but we had no big celebration, no entertainment. We
were poor and weak and, besides, all that celebration serves no purpose.
We say that only those with no sense do it, that it is worth nothing. That
boisterousness, those amusements, we say itís sinful.Ď* And also, we were
And when did you begin to have children?
About a year and a half or two years later. I was concerned. And I was
very happy to have children, and my mother was very happy. The first
was a daughter who died. Then came Mehdi, who is the oldest of all.
Then my daughter who is married here in the village. Between each of
them was about one and a half years.
This was right after the rationing period ended. What u1a.x life like during the
Things were pretty tough, tough with respect to food, and sugar, and
clothes. Gar nichts, I9 nothing. No clothing materials at all! Weíd wear
that coarse wool, and the women would wear that and all kinds of rags.
No materials, none at all.
And how was it otherwise?
As for food: weíd get sugar, sometimes half a kilo a month, sometimes
three-fourths; sometimes, if there was a lot, one kilo. Per head. But the
merchants would always make off with some of that. And weíd get a bit
of tea, leftovers. And soap, one or two soap bars, from month to month.
And we had a book that would be punched every month. Grains were
scarce, too. Scarce. Sometimes a small bit of wheat was given out, but
rarely. Food was really lousy, it was no good at all.
What were your thoughts -during this time?
What was I thinking? I was thinking.. . like now, you know, with the
Sahara. The Sahara problem has made tea more expensive for US.~O
Then, I was saying, "Let God settle things over there in Europe so that
we can have our things here." Thatís what I said.
Things were tough, much worse than now. Now, everything can be
had, but then times were tough. With the black market then, a sugar
cone would cost a thousand francs, a thousand francs at a time when
there was no money around. Thatís one hundred rials a kilo, twenty rials
for 100 grams. And a man would watch over his sugar, hoard it until he
had 100 grams, and then heíd bring it to provide drink for ten or twelve
people. Today, with 1.50 grams, we provide drink for just one. There
was even a time when instead of sugar, we used dates. Weíd drink tea,
and suck on a date instead of using sugar. Then dates got expensive and
everybody began to try and deal in dates. I did that for a while, too.
Did you make any profit from it?
What I made I drank up. It passed quickly. For about a year, people
were using dates with tea. It was tasteless.
Well, things went that way for a while, until my brother had grown up
a bit. Then he began to sell feed grass for us, and I began to do a lot of
farming, on my motherís brotherís plots. Iíd work three or four of his
gardens. I had four donkeys and, at the time of the crop, Iíd sell gourds,
watermelons, and so on.
And when did your brother get married?
He got married. . . about two years after the rationing period ended,
to the daughter of my motherís brother.
Was it your brother who said to you, "I want to get married."?
No, it was my mother and I who said to him, "You must get married."
He said, "All right." We told him, "Your motherís brotherís daughter."
And he said, "All right." Then, we were just he and I, and my mother,
and the two women. My two sisters had already married by then.
Your brother divorced his first wife. How did that come about?
After a while, they no longer got on together. And her mother came
and told her, "Donít knuckle under to them. Your father has a lot and
can support you." That is, "Donít work hard for them, donít get upset."
My brother heard this and told her, "Get out, I donít want to see you. Go
to your father if he has so much." And she left.
I went to my brother and ,I told him, "You must take her back." But he
said, "No, Iím not taking her back. Never, never." So I left it.
And after your sisters married, did you often go to visit them?
When you saw them, did you ask them. . .
No, I donít ask. I donít question
them. But when I see them, I say, "How are you. Is everything well?"
Thatís all, thatís it. Even with my daughter now, I donít question her at
Why donít you?
It would be shameful. What would I ask her? Iíve nothing to say to
But, I mean, if you were concerned about her, might gou ask her whether she was
happy in her new home: or whether they were treating her well?
No. "Hello, how are you.J", thatís all. Sheíd say nothing but that, and
Iíd say nothing else to her.
And to her mother? Would she be embarrassed in front of her mother?
Her mother can question her. She will tell things to her mother. To
me, no. I couldnít ask her.
Thatís enough. Thatís all now.