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MOHAMED NEDALI

Time to Accept the Unacceptable
A CHAPTER FROM THE NOVEL MORCEAUX DE CHOIX: LES AMOURS D’UN APPRENTI BOUCHER, TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH BY ANDRÉ NAFFIS-SAHELY

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y name is Thami. My nimble fingers and long years of experience as a butcher have earned me the prestigious title of M’allem, or master. By taking up this trade, looked down on this land of the Lord God, I unwittingly broke away from my learned ancestors – a long line of illustrious, learned scholars that counted two imams, a judge and an adel1 among its members. One of my ancestors, whose wisdom the Almighty saw fit to bestow upon me, had once been a prominent Qur’anic commentator, whose writings are still routinely quoted in many religious schools across the country. My father, a respected adel in the Marrakech medina, as well as a widely-read man, took a long time to come to grips with reality before finally acquiescing to my inexplicable desire to deviate from this ancestral path. In his darkest hour of despair, he once told me that I was the shameful offshoot of a scholarly line, “his” line, which had been admired and venerated by generations of Marrakchis. At times, he also called me a l’arech l’medloul, the disgraceful and ignoble scion, or a temra l’fasda – a bad apple, worm-ridden and good for nothing, unsuitable even for pack animals. But in the souk where I work, I’m usually referred to as Lewd Monkey, an annoying nickname that the local street urchins saddled me with, in reference it seems to my regrettable penchant for chasing every woman I see (the beautiful ones, it goes without saying) – an
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irresistible urge that this strict and uncomprehending society doesn’t tolerate in the slightest. Yet though I’ve committed many misdeeds, Almighty God can attest to the fact that I’ve only ever loved one woman in my life. And only one. It is the story of this unique and all-absorbing love that I now wish to relate to you in my own way, that of a young butcher little versed in the science of words and ideas. I want to tell you about the trials and tribulations of a teenager whose father – a venal, power-hungry man made of stone and steel – reduced him to nothing. I want to tell you about all my desires, my love affairs, my marriage – and what a marriage! – as well as my passions, my acts of defiance, my mistakes, my weaknesses . . . Above all, I want to tell you about Zineb, and how meeting her completely changed my life; Zineb and our illicit rendezvous when we spirited ourselves away from an all-seeing and envious society. In other words, I would like to tell you about my sentimental education, which took place in the utmost secrecy, prey to the winds of maktoub2 and chance encounters. At first, my life wasn’t much different from anyone else’s. I was just like all the other kids my age, normal, although come to think of it that’s not strictly true. But who was normal in our crazy medina? Let’s just say I was more or less normal.
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Like many of the kids raised in that hostile, conservative environment where the Law of the Ancestor rules with an iron fist, I attended the Ben Youssef Madrasa, which was renowned for its archaic syllabus and excessive devotion to the sacrosanct values of the past. Under the aegis of my father’s cane, my schooling got off to a good start – dare I say an excellent start? – I memorised all one hundred and fourteen suras of the Qur’an without too many difficulties, as well as hundreds of certified hadiths, parables and allegories. I gained an in-depth knowledge of texts such as Sibawayh’s Treatise, Imam Malek’s Exegesis, the Islamic metrical system – as well as the pre-Islamic Mu’allaqat, and the speeches of the great orators and theologians. I even had a good grasp of French and mathematics, subjects that were nonetheless of secondary importance in the madrasa. When it came to exams, I usually breezed through them without any last-minute cramming. Yet once I entered the fifth form, a cruel change took place in me. I became someone else, a strange animal that no longer had anything in common with the diligent, bookish student I had been up until that moment. My intellectual abilities simply faded away. My focus shifted away from my studies as if I’d been the victim of an evil spell, or hampered by the spiteful tricks of fate. My urges laid siege to my body. My brilliance, which until recently had been the subject of my professors’ praise, had been suddenly snuffed out – and there had been no way to rescue any of my former positive qualities from the ruin. I became as stubborn as a pack mule, who, having reached a bridge, simply refuses to cross it, and any attempt to spur him, drag him or beat him ends in failure. At that point, one must forget about the bridge and find another path. Much to my father’s despair, I dropped out of the madrasa, despite his fervent wishes that I become a lawyer, or at least an adel like him. Truth be told, my departure from the madrasa had been prompted by other, more concrete reasons, which eluded me until I’d gone through my first teenage crisis. Having put my childhood behind me, I also let go of fear – that terrible, widespread fear that hung above our heads and regulated every aspect of our lives throughout our education. Against all odds, I developed a critical mindset, as well as a rebellious streak. The
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world became suddenly demystified; people and things lost the sacred aura that my childhood fears had endowed them with when I’d been superstitious and entirely dependent on others. The madrasa bore the brunt of the consequences brought about by the cruel changes taking place within me. I began to question everything. Nothing escaped my critical scrutiny: the long texts we were forced to memorize, the off-putting Qur’anic commentaries, the boring lessons about the Islamic metrical system and classical Arabic grammar . . . from that moment on, everything I came across made me want to take to my heels and flee to the other side of the world, towards the Land of Fire, or the Country of the Rising Sun. The teachers, all of whom were eggheads obsessed with rhetoric and theology, were rude and so detached that they were utterly uninspiring. Their sarcastic nature and irritating remarks made me beside myself with anger, while their bovine stupidity turned my stomach. For the most part, my classmates were so industrious that they got on my nerves and were thus almost impossible to get on with. Their chief concern was to close the chapter of childhood as soon as possible, to shed all vestiges pertaining to their actual age – no matter the cost – as if it was something to be ashamed of. In class, they spent their time trying to outdo one another with their earnestness and wisdom, trying to imitate their teachers, even going so far as to speak like them, think like them, foolishly adopting all their tics as their own . . . mannerisms that made them look repulsively ridiculous. Then, there was the madrasa itself: a milieu peopled exclusively by men and boys – lustful males tormented by the clogged conduits in their nether regions. This uniquely male environment was deeply depressing. The atmosphere was altogether stifling, making it almost impossible to breathe, and the classrooms smelt too much like semen. As I once read somewhere, a world without women isn’t worth living in. Besides, what was that institution from a bygone era even doing in our time? It might still make sense in Jeddah or Kabul, but here in Marrakech, where night clubs and mixed gender swimming pools were only a stone’s throw away? Who are they trying to fool? It would be a while – a long while – until I understood that the whole of society was made up of realities that were actually incomBANIPAL 48 – AUTUMN-WINTER 2013

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patible: mosques and bars, whorehouses and the houses of the Qur’an, narrow alleyways and broad boulevards, handcarts and American limousines, wealth and poverty . . . The most striking contrasts thus co-existed side by side, without anyone seeming that surprised by them. At sixteen, I made the firm decision never to set foot inside the madrasa ever again. My father used all sorts of punishment in his attempt to change my mind: he deprived me of everything he could think of, subjected me to daily beatings, and kept me locked up in the laundry room, allowing me only dry crusts and water . . . But as he saw that the stubborn animal persisted in his refusal to cross the bridge, he gave up, bitter and hopeless. The truce lasted for a good long while, weeks, maybe months. I can no longer remember the exact details. Then, one day, he decided to put me in the hands of some sort of craftsman so that I might learn a trade. Despite everything, I would not be allowed to linger on God’s earth with idle hands! A true man would never abide by living on handouts, even his own father’s! Plus, life these days was getting increasingly difficult, and it was about time I should learn to stand on my own two feet and earn a living . . . ! I therefore explained to my father, that of all the trades practised in the medina, the only one that interested me was being a butcher. The adel stared at me in disbelief. He was flabbergasted. His big eyes, framed by bushy eyebrows, grew intensely dark. Blood flushed his hardened mullah’s face. The veins on his forehead bulged. I knew these signs all too well: they announced the impending arrival of his unfettered fury. “Say that again!” he said, trying in vain to conceal his wrath. I said it again, speaking as firmly and coolly as I’d done before. Incensed, my father flung himself at me as if he were a wild beast pouncing on its prey, punching and kicking me indiscriminately, all the while shouting that he wouldn’t mourn my death, hurling a torrent of abuse at me: l’arech l’medloul, temra l’fasda, meskhout: the disgraceful scion of a distinguished line, a bad apple, an unworthy heir . . . in short an entire litany of insults, which thanks to having been forced to endure them, I can now recite by heart. It was certainly true that I’d always been fascinated by the butchers’ stalls in the medina. The allure had arisen spontaneously, and
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to this day, I have yet to discern its inexplicable origins, I only know that its roots stretch far back in time to the earliest days of my childhood. While still young, I often stopped in front of the souk butcher so as to better admire the slabs of raw meat hanging from hooks or spread over the white tiles of the counter: quarter cows stained yellow by fat and sinews, health-ruining legs of lamb, delicious veal tenderloins, minced beefsteaks that simply cried out for a good grilling, beef shanks, lamb chops . . . All these heavenly delights had been showcased in such a manner as to ensure that even the most indifferent of passers-by would be lured into their trap whenever they caught sight of them out of the corner of their eye. I loved the beef shanks lined up into neat rows at the end of the counter. I loved the sweet, clean taste of the animal fat. I loved the brains that had been lovingly arranged on sprigs of coriander, the sturdy beef hearts, now gone as quiet as dumbbells. I even loved the shiny, dripping rolls of tripe still quivering with life ... Then there was M’allem Djebbar, the owner: a man who was built like a house of bricks, had a thick neck, rounded shoulders and leathery skin. Whenever I looked at him, I was filled with a sense of awe. His strong, large build, his calm demeanour and his striking appearance filled me with unfettered joy and vitality whenever he was surrounded by his red and white jewels. His thick handlebar moustache tapered gracefully down to his chin, and his face, round and bright as a full moon made him a man worthy of respect, one of the characters with which the medina abounds. It was no surprise then that he’d been asked time and again to stand for election to the local legislature. Yet while he might have pleased the powersthat-be and cut a fine figure as a politician, M’allem Djebbar certainly wasn’t the sort of man to waste his breath in order to sway the masses since the mere sight of his Titan’s physique would have been more than enough. I never got tired of watching the man bustle about amidst the wonders of his butcher’s world. His plump hands, a rosy pink, handled the meat deftly and lightly. His chubby fingers wielded knives, cleavers and carving blades with effortless grace. M’allem Djebbar’s movements were so neat and precise that it looked as if the meat had sliced itself. Enthralled onlooker that I was, I decided that this
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trade stood peerless above all the other crafts in the medina. Unlike the madrasa, the butcher’s shop seemed like a breath of fresh air and it exuded both joy and vitality. It was a safe haven of well-being and abundance. Sometimes, I absent-mindedly lingered in front of the counter for such a long time that even M’allem Djebbar took notice of me. This tended to happen when he wasn’t busy looking after his customers, in the evenings, or during the early hours of the afternoon. The fellow would then crack a wide, cheerful smile, which was framed by his thick, curled moustache, and employing his loud, welcoming tone, he would say: Go home, little one, your mother’s going to worry! From time to time, he would give me a thin slice of beef or an incredibly tender lamb chop (a very rare display of generosity in the medina) which he would wrap in a piece of glossy paper in a single stroke. Slap ‘em on the grill, sonny, he would say as he chucked over the parcel. How many times did I wind up dropping my school bag so as to catch M’allem Djebbar’s parcels on the wing! I have never been able to find an explanation behind my love of butchery. It seemed to me that the desire originated from the very depths of my being, and that it was profoundly rooted in me. It was an innate passion that was completely unforced, God-given you might say. Yet however real and strong my passion for butchery, it was nonetheless something I had kept to myself and hadn’t shared with the people around me. It was a secret. A taboo. Neither the adel nor the members of my family would have understood how a child like me, descended from such a distinguished line, could ever have been tempted by such a lowly and vulgar profession. Having surmised that the adel had been getting ready to find a work placement for me, I had therefore decided it was time to let him in on my thoughts. It was time to break the taboos and rid myself of the secret that had been weighing heavily on my heart. I was sixteen, and I was often told that at that age, one was old enough to speak one’s mind about the direction one wanted one’s life to take. So I had plucked up the courage to tell him and get everything off my chest. His initial reaction was almost inconceivably violent. Never before had a father been so cruel towards his own son.Yet the more he beat me, the more I persisted in my refusal to go back to the madrasa,
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or to learn any other trade that wasn’t butchery. And after a few weeks, my father finally realised that his cruelty and tenacity were getting him nowhere. He therefore retreated from the battle, though he didn’t quite believe the war had come to an end. A few days after this happened, I realized that my torturer had simply devised a new method with which he could carry on the struggle. Having given up on corporal punishment, he switched to psychological warfare, but kept the same old aim in sight: to reel me in so he could do with me as he pleased. He decided to ignore me completely. The adel simply stopped speaking to me. He didn’t even look at me any more. From that moment on, I had become invisible. I no longer existed. I was dead to him. A ghost. So as to isolate me entirely, he forced my mother and two sisters to adopt his tactics, and they obeyed him. Out of fear no doubt. The period of ostracism lasted three or four months. As far as I was concerned, it was a brief parentheses that allowed me complete and total freedom, or near enough. I took advantage of the situation by wandering aimlessly around the alleyways of the medina, wearing out the soles of my shoes by chasing after beautiful girls with plum bottoms. Whenever I felt a pressing need for cash, I headed to Sidi Bouloukate, the hotel district, where I lurked in wait for a couple of French tourists to pass by, at which point I would offer my services as a tour guide and take them on excursions through the souks of the medina in exchange for a small fee. This was occasionally a very profitable venture. With a little luck, I would chance upon some especially generous tourists, who on top of a sizeable fee, would also give me clothes, hats, books, cigarettes, snacks . . . some even invited me to a restaurant after the day’s visit. As for invitations to visit their hotel rooms, I always declined, firmly but politely. This sort of business required one to stay especially vigilant, since you ran the considerable risk of being cornered by one of those plain-clothes policemen who snaked through the medina on the lookout for easy prey like young, unofficial tour guides. If you were unlucky enough to get pinched, you’d need well more than your day’s takings to get yourself out of that mess. But thanks be to God, that never happened to me. Every now and then, whenever I chanced upon the adel in the courtyard of our house, he acted as if he hadn’t seen me, or quickly
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retreated into a room with his head hung low. My father’s dark despair was largely caused by the humiliating realization that he had lost his identity, that he was no longer a father, or rather the lord of the manor, whom everybody feared and fawned over; that he was no longer a God surrounded by all his saints and prophets. My father obviously needed some time – a lot of time – to come to terms with my new inclination, or as he put it, to accept the unacceptable. One morning, just as I was getting used to my new life of inertia and idle walks, the adel grabbed me by the arm and led me, without a word, to M’allem Djebbar, the souk’s most renowned butcher. Contrary to all expectations, my dream was finally about to come true. I was speechless. “I’m placing my son in your hands,” my father told him, sounding a little broken-hearted, “this meskhout can’t think of anything better to do with his hands! I’ve done all I could to try and convince him to go back to the madrasa, but it’s no use! As of today, I’m committing him to your care, as well as God Almighty’s! Take good care of him, and may God usher his dead parents through the gates of Heaven!” “Don’t you worry about a thing, Sidi Ali!” M’allem Djebbar replied. “You do me great honour by entrusting me with the fruit of your loins, a scion of such a venerable line! I vow before the Almighty to take care of him as if he were my own . . . !” These words, which seemed to seal my future, echoed down to the very depths of my soul. The adel said goodbye to M’allem Djebbar and left, his head hung low in humiliation, as if he’d just degraded himself by making the most shameful decision of his life. Deep down, my father had always nursed an aristocratic disdain for all types of menial work. Butchers, craftsmen and masons occupied the lowest rungs of the social totem. This disdain was no doubt due to his learned roots – a pedigree which was still a great source of pride for him. This was yet another realization that eluded me until much later. I was thus ushered into the wonderful world of meat and fat, which every fibre of my being told me I’d been predestined for. God Almighty had endowed me with a predisposition to this trade that would ultimately ensure my success. M’allem Djebbar didn’t
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have much trouble teaching me the ropes. I went through the motions both quickly and easily. Even the M’allem was shocked by how readily his teachings entered my heart and soul. Each day that passed brought with it the discovery of a skill that would make me a butcher worthy of the name: I was capable, nimble, precise, tactful, dexterous, discreet, quick . . . It seemed to me as if all these skills had always lain dormant within me, waiting for my apprenticeship as a butcher to bring them out. After two years of hard work as an apprentice, I had learned all the tricks of the trade, including the most delicate skills, such a flaying and dismembering. In the slaughterhouses – which served as a meeting point for the city’s master-butchers – M’allem Djebbar routinely sang my praises, going so far as to say that my skills at handling the knife and cleaver were peerless, extolling me at length in front of his colleagues, to the point that they too started calling me a gifted butcher . . . Nevertheless, my situation left much to be desired. The old apprentices, hardened veterans of the trade who were often much older than me, didn’t spare any efforts in trying to discourage me, calling me a greenhorn, or a oueld mimtou – mummy’s boy – or even a legzizir, an ironic diminutive of l’guez zar, or butcher. Some of them often went on about how I didn’t even look like a butcher, which was admittedly true. Whenever I made the slightest mistake, they were always ready to ridicule me. One of the apprentices, a lout by the name of Louatouat, a nasty sneerer, didn’t miss a single opportunity to inform M’allem Djebbar that I would make an excellent composition teacher at a finishing school for girls. Competition was fierce among the apprentices, and mistakes were not tolerated, since they could prove to be fatal. After months of hard work, by which time even my detractors had been forced to concede that I had made a tremendous amount of progress in such a short space of time, some of the apprentices started to change their behaviour towards me. A few of them even started to get close to me so as to observe my techniques . . . others, instead, used the slightest pretext to split hairs and criticise me, creating situations that quickly degenerated into spats and sometimes even scuffles. Nobody who worked in the Marrakech slaughterhouses was shocked by this, since everyone seemed to be of the opinion that butcher boys were more hot-headed than anyone else.
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So, when a fight broke out, everyone agreed that it was no bad thing, since it was an outlet for all their excess calories. Despite the distress my choices had caused him at the start, the adel began to adopt an altogether different attitude towards me. One day, my mother confirmed this shift when she informed me that he had been secretly following my progress, occasionally even making his own enquires with M’allem Djebbar. I began to notice how he had gradually stopped sulking, and attempted to rein in his aggressiveness. Yet he refused to go further than that, something stronger than him prevented him from doing so. His position as a disappointed patriarch prevented his affectionate nature from fully expressing itself. One evening, however, the adel burst into my room. It was a Friday. I remember it well. He lingered for a moment on the threshold, looking as haughty and imposing as ever. I attempted to rush over to kiss his hand, but he made a gesture that indicated I should stay put. He looked around the room and then came to crouch down beside me on the mat. I discreetly slid the pornographic magazine I’d been leafing through under my pillow. What was that arrogant man, who was so full of himself, even doing in my pitiful little attic? Ever since I’d left the madrasa, the adel had refused to set foot in my room. Was this surprise visit the beginning of a reconciliation, a prelude to his burying the hatchet? He cleared his throat, then adjusted his night-cap, shifting it forward first, then pushing it back. The wait made me feel impatient and disconcerted. He stayed silent a little longer and then asked me if I’d gone to the mosque for the main prayer of the day. I replied that I hadn’t – with a curt La! No! – without making any the slightest effort to provide any further explanations. I thought to myself: He’s going to yell at me again! But no, I was mistaken. To my great surprise, not a word left the adel’s lips. His face remained impassive, without the vaguest traces of anger on it. I inferred that he hadn’t come to my room to give me the usual moral lecture, and that his question as to whether I’d attended the prayer was nothing but a prelude to an altogether more interesting question. My impatience went up a notch. His soundless lips kept me hovering in limbo. He briefly stared at the ceiling with his black eyes before turning his gaze towards me: “What do you want me to say?” he struck up, sounding more or
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less serene. “May God bring you back to the right path, oueldi, my son!” I progressed from impatience into a profound state of shock: my father hadn’t called me his oueldi for a long, long time, in fact ever since I’d decided to leave the madrasa. “I only want what’s best for you, oueldi. You can’t imagine how much it pains me to see you in such a . . . a . . . well, unenviable situation. I’ve never quite been able to put up with seeing you at M’allem Djebbar’s mercy. Ever since you became an apprentice butcher, I have longed to see you freed from his clutches and able to stand on your own two feet! One can’t be an apprentice forever, after all, even if it is a necessary hurdle one must get through.” The adel paused for a moment. His big, black eyes seemed to detect something invisible on the wall facing him. He was inscrutable – his mullah’s face was almost impossible to read. Without taking his eyes off the wall, he carried on: “I’ve come to the conclusion that the long-awaited day has finally arrived! Thanks to God’s help I have found you a shop in the souk! To put it bluntly, it was a bargain! . . . As it wasn’t a butchery, I have made the necessary steps to start renovating it . . . The shop will be ready in a few days, giving you all the time you need to give that upstart M’allem Djebbar due notice, and throw off his yoke! From now on, you’re going to work for me, which follows that you’ll be your own boss.You’re going to report directly to me, which is just as well since I’m the one who put you into this world and gave you the best education money could buy . . . I suggest you roll up your sleeves and do your best not to disappoint the trust I’ve placed in you! Luckily for you, there is only one true road to success: your father’s blessing! And in order to have it, you need to start listening to me . . . and to obey me. In a word, you must obey my every command, no matter what! . . .Your life, the entirety of your life, must now revolve around work, going to the mosque, and the family home. Work because it provides you with an income. What could be more normal than that? Even God’s Prophet had a job.You must go to the mosque so as to fulfil your duty to God. And finally, the family home is where you’ll deposit your day’s takings – with me – and where you’ll eat and sleep. Work, going to the mosque and the family home! Work, going to the mosque and the family home! Here is the path that all good Muslims follow, which was laid out by the
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Almighty and illuminated by his Prophet, blessings upon Him! Any deviations from this path would inevitably lead to debauchery! Debaucheries that could translate into disastrous consequences for your chosen career . . . Work, going to the mosque and the family home. This is the path you’re going to have to follow if you want to become somebody in this medina . . . That said, your choice of career isn’t as bad as all that: all the city’s merchants agree that butchery is big money! . . . That’s how it is these days, the world has changed. The lofty professions are going through their moment of crisis. And it is the trades that have been looked down on for centuries that are gaining the upper hand at the moment!You only need to look at how much money has fallen into the boorish Djebbar’s lap to see that I’m right! The world has been turned upside down! Some have even interpreted it as a sign of our times!” My father got up, looking saddened. He sighed, parted his lips as if he were about to say something, but nothing came out. Having reached the door frame, he turned around and pointed his right index finger at me and said: “Work, going to the mosque and the family home. That’s the key to wisdom, success, prosperity and the source of all happiness and well-being . . . The key to it all lies in that formula! . . .” The adel’s sermon went on for another half hour, but I had long since stopped listening to him; the news of my being given my own shop had brushed everything else to the side. I was ecstatic. I felt drunk. I was overjoyed. It seemed to me as if life, like a woman suddenly grown amorous, was finally ready to welcome me with open arms. I already envisioned myself discarding the lowly status of apprentice for the respectable one of M’allem (hearing yourself being called M’allem, now that really changes the way you look at the world!) Happy horizons unfolded in front of me. To have my own shop would mean I would finally be independent. My own man. Free. Above all, it was a chance to do things my own way, using my own ideas and unique perspective on things, different ways that M’allem Djebbar either didn’t – or refused to – understand. My mentor and I held different opinions on a number of issues, and this chasm between us only widened with the passing of time. Or biggest disagreement centred around the meat’s country of origin. M’allem Djebbar had always opted to buy livestock imported from either France or Holland – big, fleshy beasts that were an at146 BANIPAL 48 – NARRATING MARRAKECH

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tractive proposition not only due to their size, but also thanks to their unbeatable prices. Whereas I’d always entertained a distinct preference for Moroccan livestock. While their meat was certainly less plentiful and fatty, they nonetheless had a unique and exceptional taste. The fragrance of dishes prepared using those meats was unparalleled. As far as M’allem Djebbar was concerned, customers has long since lost all notion of what good natural products actually tasted like, and so one had to keep up with the times, because, in this business, it was stupid to try and swim against the tide. “A shrewd shopkeeper . . . ” M’allem Djebbar once informed me, sounding a little incensed, “a shrewd shopkeeper must always look after his customers’ needs! You really need to get that through your head! If your customers ask you for Moroccan meat, you give it to them. But if they want imported meat, then you have to cater to their cravings. If one day they should go soft in the head and ask you to give them dog or snake, then you go right ahead and serve them dog and snake! And if they turn into vegetarians, then you become a farmer! . . . Tell me, just where do you get these ideas about selling your customers products they’ve even forgotten how to appreciate? . . . You, my little scatterbrain, have to learn that in this business – just like in every other business – you have to follow the trends if you want to survive, otherwise your career’s going to end before it even starts!”
Excerpted from Morceaux de choix: Les amours d’un apprenti boucher, [Prime Cuts: An Apprentice Butcher’s Life & Loves] Editions de l’Aube, France, 2006. Aube Poche edition, 2007. Winner of the 2005 Grand Atlas Prize, with jury president Jean-Marie Le Clézio.
Notes: 1 An adel is a Moroccan religious official who serves as a notary in secular courts. 2 Maktoub means destiny, literally meaning “it is written” in Arabic.

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