Jewish Maghrib Jukebox

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Guide

Our mellah-born guide told me he would show me everything. I didn’t want to see everything, I said, I wanted to see very specific things. I decided to give him a try, although we didn’t get the best feeling from him. After about 2 minutes he stopped and pointed out to us the house of famous Frenchman which was clearly sign posted in multiple languages. Then he stopped and asked a woman where Derb al Fuqi was. We were on Derb al Fuqi. I knew because I had studied the map. He then asked where a number of other obvious streets were. I could do that I thought. We parted ways and I finally felt free to explore. I spoke to the same woman that our faux guide spoke to and got the layout of the mellah street by street. I began to walk down Derb al Fuqi and began to examine the doors of one of the main arteries of the mellah. You can still see most of the spots where the mezuzot once laid. It was amazing. The houses were clearly Jewish and there was a very visible remnant. I started looking for specific addresses on the street as a number of neighborhood kids started following us. A woman started yelling at us or so I thought. She was actually yelling for us. I told her what I was looking for and then it all began. It was really beautiful. She said:
Aziza used to live there. And Jacob her husband worked close to there. And then there was what’s his name. Oy (my emphasis), what’s his name? We were all friends. She spoke about her old neighbors at length and I thanked her profusely for the information she shared.

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