Peace and Thanks on Friday

I begin this entry with a disclaimer- this is not my usual style of blog post. Because I didn’t go on any “adventures” this week, I didn’t take a single picture and thus have nothing to present this week. In order not to bore you all with a detailed description of my entire week absent of any accompanying images, I am just summarizing my stray thoughts.

One of my favorite parts of living in Morocco is Friday. Friday is the holiest, most important day of the week and there are a number of special practices that take place to emphasize this. On Friday, most people either have the day off work or work until noon. The men in my family spend extra time at the mosque, or at neighborhood prayer rooms, worshipping. My sister Hawla allocates a large portion of the morning to prepare the special Friday lunch, couscous, which is consumed after the men get home from their third round of prayers. When people aren’t busy cooking or praying, the rest of the day is spent resting at home with the family. It is common for extended family to come over to visit, especially if they live close by or if they would otherwise by alone (the case for some of the widowed women in my family). It is a day to thank God for what he has given you, and celebrate your family and what has been gifted to you.

For me, Friday is the perfect day for such reflection. It is invariably the day when I am simultaneously the most happy and tired. After a particularly stressful week, filled with an exceedingly large number of academic commitments and emotional challenges, Friday reminds me to be thankful for what I have and what is given to me. This week, I am grateful for my home here in Rabat, and the safe space that it provides me. Regardless of what happens outside the walls of this house, my family always welcomes me home and invites me into their space and lives. They continually accept the decisions I make about whether or not to participate in family activities, and are respectful of when I feel overwhelmed with the unfamiliar aspects of daily life here in Morocco. This week, I am incredibly thankful that they allowed me to retreat from socializing and spend more time working on my homework independently and rest when I was tired.

When Friday finally arrived, I again felt pulled, as I do every week, to revel in the comfort I feel when I embrace my family and our time together. For a reason that escaped me, but perhaps does not need explanation, this Friday was abnormally special. My family left early in the afternoon to go to my brother Abdullatif’s house to have couscous with the entire family. Even though I still struggle immensely to communicate with my family, the hours spent eating and socializing were by far the highlight of my week. My seven year old host niece Malak spent the entire meal trying to get one of the adults to allow her to try some of their special hot sauce, continually begging until my sister Asma finally gave in and handed her a small spoon. Malak intrepidly stuck the spoon into the jar and shoved a scoop into her mouth, shrugging when the heat of the sauce apparently had little to no affect. After our meal I sat in the living room with my brother Mohammed, laughing as we scrambled to pick up the toy blocks that my one year old nephew Adam threw around the room with glee that only increased upon sensing our frustration. The entire experience burst with smiles and glowed with love, a light of positivity I will carry with me for a long time to come.

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