Early last year a small family fish store opened a block away from my house. Most businesses in Morocco are still family owned and run. It was a cute little place with new glass-covered display fridges and a fisherman motif, you know, plastic seaweed and fishing nets artfully hung from the ceiling. When the BP spilled their oil, I thought about my fish mongers. I didn’t pass by for a week or so and when I finally did it seemed the lights were on but no one was home, literally. Just a few fish sat in the lit cases, the doors were closed.
Around that same time, a neighbor friend commented that there hasn’t been any fish in the souk. It had been a couple of weeks since the spill. I remembered that she is illiterate and unlike most of our neighbors, she doesn’t have a satellite dish. Perhaps her own children had failed to share with her their findings in Le Mondial. In my broken Derijench—(Derija and French)—I pathetically tried to explain it to her, “Oil in the ocean. A lot of oil in the ocean. Boat broken.”
The gates of the shop were always drawn soon after that. We didn’t have a weekend fish-fry for months until we happened past some men at the beach with coolers strapped to their bicycles. My husband bought a few kilos of fat iridescent delicacies from a man who smiled and said that he would have eaten them if we didn’t buy them. He was happy either way.
Yesterday the kids pulled me into a candy store to get 10 cents worth of sunflower seeds. The store is sparkly new and fastidiously organized, unlike the chaotic and dim old dinosaur of a hanoot next door. Brightly colored cellophane packages are stacked behind the counter a little higher than my head. The one large display case, which stands between the buyers and the dealers, tempts with artificial colored, chemical-laden and salted indulgences for as little as a penny each.
The kids are only allowed to buy “salty-snacks” and I suggest they try pumpkin seeds. They get 10 cents worth of those too and I buy myself two rolls of sugar-crusted gumdrops. Clearly a case of “do as I say.”
I wish this all were a metaphor.
God, Please help us all, ameen.