The Surprise Wedding Part I

Things tend to be sudden in Morocco. If not sudden, they are at least mysterious. For instance, shortly after my return from our class trip to Spain, I noticed that the house hummed and thrummed just a bit more than usual. Mama washed every fiber and fabric; my host sister mopped the floor almost every day for a week. Unnamed relatives swooped in, drank tea, and vanished into the woodwork.

In short, the normally sleepy home was buzzing. And I, in my typical state of confusion, could only wonder at the cause.

After more than a week of this heightened activity, I had given up attempting to divine the motives of the people around me. And then, on that fated Saturday, I was called from my books and told to come upstairs to lunch.

I entered the salon.

Approximately thirty eyes turned to me for a brief moment, and then I was deposited betwixt an aunt and an unnamed family affiliate. The table sagged under lamb, potatoes, and salads. My mind blown, I began to eat. Suddenly, Mama called over the din of conversation and informed me nonchalantly that my host brother Zakariah was getting married. Rather surprised but suddenly comprehending life to a far greater extent, I congratulated him and inquired as to the date of his impending nuptials. I assumed, since I had lived with them for two months and heard neither word nor whisper of a wedding, that this was a recent development…

And then Mama replied, “Today, of course. At five o’clock.”

My jaw had barely dangled for more than a moment when she added, “Oh, and you’re coming. But don’t worry—we’ll dress you in a pretty kaftan first.”


I slid the borrowed black kaftan over my head and wriggled into the sharbeel (Moroccan shoes). After awkwardly trying to brush my bristly hair into something resembling femininity (but failing), I shuffled down the stairs and outside. I only tripped twice before tugging the kaftan up several inches. Unfortunately, it belonged to my host sister, who stands at approximately 5’10’’ to my 5’5’’.

The hired musicians piled into a rented truck, the enormous embroidered chests of clothes and jewelry for the bride were stacked in another truck along with the groom’s brother and cousin. After chasing a street cat from the kitchen, flapping after it in her rose-dapled kaftan and white hijab, mama hustled me into a grand taxi. She clicked her tongue and pushed a bracelet onto my wrist. An aunt squeezed next to me in the front seat, three (rather sizable) women negotiated the backseat, and we were off…

We drove and drove as the sun set and the sky clouded over. Pulling to the curb in a narrow street on the outskirts of Rabat, the taxi stopped and we tumbled out. As the first few drops of rain began to fall, I wondered just what a Moroccan wedding was going to be like…