I got a cold from my friend Abdelhadi. As I declined, he perked up with, "Does this mean I am contagious?" I didn't share his joy in using a new vocabulary word. As it turned out, things went from bad to worse with the cold. I missed three and a half days of school. I had fever, headache, body aches and the Soufidis (my landlord's family). There is nothing quite like Moroccan mothering. It goes way beyond anything expected. But, sometimes I wondered how I got any sleep.
The first day that they noticed that I was sick, they came to my room to check on me. By "they" I mean my landlord, his wife, all four children and anyone else who might have been in their apartment. They brought me orange juice. Later, breakfast. Again, lunch. And, coffee in the afternoon. They brought me supper and even cleaned the whole apartment. Yes, it was a mess, but I was sick! They picked up my clothes, washed all the dishes and even mopped the floor. They were simply amazing. They took care of me the whole time I was sick (but I made sure the apartment only needed cleaning the one time).
Abdelhadi brought me a bouquet of red carnations. He said when you are sick, you need to see flowers. Then, the Soufidis saw flowers near my bed and quickly whisked them off to the kitchen. I couldn't catch all of the reasoning but there was talk of flowers being dangerous in an enclosed room. They supposedly took away the oxygen supply. Sounds like a Moroccan wives' tale to me. I figured I could live with them in the other room as long as the Soufidis took care of me.
The worst part was I had a headache that just didn't want to end. Aspirin didn't help. Abdelhadi went to a pharmacy to get something else. It made me want to vomit. (I didn't take any more of that stuff.) Finally, Abdelhadi decided that it was time for a Moroccan treatment. He brought the goodies to Mrs. Soufidi and she prepared the treatment. The "goodies" were a mystery herb that looked sort of like parsley, a few onions, cloves and vinegar. These were ground in a mortar to make a sort of paste. What did they do with the paste? Well, they wrapped it in a cloth around my head and left it on for the night. It smelled awful. While applying it, Mrs. Soufidi dribbled the stuff all over me. I mumbled, "Barakalofik, Hamara." (Translation: The blessings of God be upon you, donkey.) It was such an unexpected insult in Arabic that they laughed about it all night and the next day.
I experienced this home remedy but I can't honestly say it worked. By the time I got it, I was nearly recovered. However, I didn't want to pass up on this Moroccan experience. Besides, I'm not sure I would have been allowed to say no anyway.
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