Advent Calendar 23rd December 2011: Morocco!

We’ll skip Michael Davidson’s descriptions of prison life – hey, it’s already the 23rd! – and jump straight to Morocco. Davidson went there in 1937 – 40 years old – when he “came out” (of prison). Page 182 (chapter 13) in The World, the Flesh and Myself:

In Rabat I met Mustapha. In was one of those magnetic encounters of the eyes, beneath the evening lamps of the Boulevard Galliéni, that lead sometimes to a brief bit of amusing commerce and sometimes – but O, so rarely! – to an ineffable happiness. From that evening on, Mustapha and I were together for nearly three years; until the fall of France cut brutally our lives apart. Once again I’d found that ‘divine friend’; Werner was reincarnate in Mustapha – without Werner’s peerless verve and glitter, but with the same sweet genuine loyalty, and, in place of Werner’s peremptory passion, a soft and wistful gentleness.

I supposed Mustapha to be about 14. He thought so too; but since Moroccans counted their birthdays from some unrecorded point in history like the summer the drought killed 50 sheep or the year the afreet appeared in the guise of a jackal, speaking with the voice of a man; and since they build their years out of lunar months, it’s best to assess an age by looking, as it were, at the teeth. He had the true Berber’s sweet oval face, snub and artless, with none of the Arab’s semite severity; his tribe were the Sghana, who grazed sheep over the plain above Marrakesh.

We went to Beni Mellal in the northern green skirts of the Atlas, where seven streams kept the encircling village lands lush with fruit and flower; and lived in a sparkling white palace where, in the evenings, on the chequered tiles of our patio with its colonnade of delicate arches, Mustapha played on his one-stringed lute small plaintive melodies which hovered up and down among the three or four notes which compose the Arab key, while I sipped red wine and watched his brown plucking fingers.

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