A father and his 7-year-old daughter are casually strolling through the busy Marrakesh market place. The scent of Moroccan herbs flowed through the bustling crowds, beyond the chanting of all classes. Tourists, salesmen, locals, peasants, before hiding behind that beautiful azan in the sweet late-afternoon sun.
The young girl is drawn to all colours and delights of the market place but her father continually pulls her from away from the stalls and smiles nervously at the stall keepers.
The little girl escapes her father’s grip and bolts towards a petite stall. An odd-looking man stands beside the stall watching the little girl.
“Hello, Mr,” says the girl to no response. The stall keeper smiles and proceeds to pat her on the head. Her dad cautiously approaches the stall. “I want them I want them!” she yells jumping and demanding her father. She holds out 2 Arabian dolls and hands them to him. The stall keeper almost breaks a smirk before steadying himself. “Well, how much are these dolls Mr” asks the father.
The stall keeper carefully inspects the dolls, picks up a pad and a pen then writes ‘10 euros’
“What? 10 euros for two dolls?” The father puts them down and looks at a few others. “But daddy! I want them!” “Sweetheart, it’s a rip-off. He’s taking us for a ride because we don’t speak his language - Ah... How about these two aye?” he picks up another set of dolls but the little girl refuses. “NO! Her eyes scare me.”
“Let’s try another shop” says the father, while trying to shuffle her away from the stall. The shopkeeper smiles at the little girl again before she runs towards the two Arabian dolls, picks them up and hugs them. The father has no choice but to haggle with the man but to no use. “Daddy, I don’t think he can understand. He doesn’t speak English” she utters as both she and her father stand looking at this peculiar man.
After an intense gaze the father draws closer to the stall keeper. “Look, I only have 8 euros on me.... the father then picks up the same pad, turns it over then writes ‘8’ on it. The stall keeper coughs in discomfort and spits out a huge chunk of Flem. ‘I think he’s sick too daddy,’ says the girl in sorrow, still clutching. He looks at the piece of paper the father hands him, turns it over and writes ‘10’. “Oh come on! Cries the father. The summer heat, combined with the little girls persistence begins to take its toll.
“Look, man, could you do it for my daughter?” says the father, he edges even closer to the stall keeper. “Her mother, MAMA… was a teacher here and had the same ones before she died” the stall keeper smiles at the girl again, nods in agreement with the father before picking up another piece of paper from the pad, and writes ‘10’ and hands it to the father. The father inspects the paper and drops his heads in disarray.
He looks up at the sun, which by now is burning the top of his head. His daughter hugs both dolls tightly to the delight of the stall keeper. “Ok man” replies the father as he exhales in defeat, reaches into his back pocket and hands the stall keeper 20 Euros. The stall keeper smiles and gives him back 10 Euros. The girl and her father start to walk away from the stall. “Thanks daddy!” Yells the girl ‘But didn’t you say you only had 8 Euros?’ “Yes” “so why did you lie? And about mummy too?” The father tightens his grip around her tiny hand before saying “Adults do that sometimes when negotiating, nothing comes for free. You’ll understand when you get older”
The father and daughter leave the stall and make their way out of the market place when suddenly the stall keeper shouts “Hey, thank you, sir!” The father freezes before turning around. “Have a nice day Mister!” Says the stall keeper, waving graciously at them both. The little girl frees herself from her father’s hand and waves back. The father, now standing speechless in the middle of the hot and busy Marrakesh Market place, looking puzzled and feeling conned, he snatches his daughter by the hand and leaves.
Written by Mukthar Khalifa.
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