As I write this, I am sitting on a beautiful terrace, under a dark velvety sky, listening to the water gurgling out of a fountain in my sister’s well-loved backyard. I am home again. Every year, I take two weeks of my precious vacation time and I return home to Morocco, to my family, to Africa. There really is nothing like it. If you’re an African ex-pat (or probably more appropriately in my case, a “third culture child”, having split my childhood between the US and Morocco) like me, you may understand what I mean. We live in the “West” and make the best of what opportunities we may have in those foreign countries. We work hard; we spend as much as our means allow on long-distance calls home and every once in a while we return. We are different when we do. We are often not quite like those around us when we go back to our countries of origin. Then again, we’re not quite like those around us when we are in our adoptive countries, either. This subtle sense of dislocation can be quite disconcerting. But, there are times, or events, or objects, or food, or even scents that every once in a while make you feel like you are exactly where you are supposed to be, you are exactly who you are meant to be, and all is right in the world. For me, one of those precious moments is when I sit down to break my fast with my family.
Once a year, during Ramadan, I come back to Morocco and immerse myself in the comforting rituals of my childhood and my culture. It always
takes a little time to shift gears and put aside my New York City mindset, but the great thing about coming home at this time of year is that it is the season for family, faith and community. During the fasting month, everything slows down. People take time to socialize in the evenings, visiting each other and making time to focus on some of the things that can easily fall by the way side while immersed in busy lives.
One of my favorite moments is right before the rituals of socializing begin. When the sun begins to set, and the temperature drops, I take a breath of jasmine kissed air in my sister’s garden. With the calls to prayer from different mosques teasing my ears, I say a small prayer of thanks under my breath. For those few moments of complete absorption in the moment, I feel such peace! It’s magical. Now, it’s time to eat and laugh, to share and listen. It’s good to be home.