It was one month and twenty-three days before it hit me like the swing of a steel bat. And in a matter of seconds I was paralyzed.
I awoke bemused, engulfed in utter pandemonium and the clamoring that seeped through the splinters of the unfamiliar door beside the unfamiliar bed where I found myself. Awful squeals of others, strained and sounding more befuddled than me, and the screeching sound of spinning wheels quickly blended into one in the same. I heard, “Azhi!” (Darija for “Come!”) and “Serbi!” (“Hurry!”) And the air—it was damp from fret; it had a sort of odor that pervaded the place.
It was one month and twenty-three days before reality hit me like the swing of a steel bat. And in a matter of seconds I was paralyzed.
I awoke from my nap bewildered for a minute or two, engulfed in utter pandemonium and the clamoring that seeped through the splinters of my bedroom door, beside the bed with which my host-family provided me. Squeals from sheep, strained and sounding more befuddled than me, and the screeching of the rushing wheelbarrows that carried them quickly blended into one in the same sound. I heard, “Azhi!” and “Serbi!” as families hastily thrust the sheep into their arms to carry them the rest of the way home. And the air around them—it was humid from the fuss; it had a sweaty odor. And the medina smelled horribly of feces.
It took one month and twenty-three days to really kick my ass.
It was Eid, an Islamic festival observed around the world, in which practicing Muslims sacrifice sheep to commemorate the willingness of Ibrahim to follow Allah’s command to sacrifice his son, Ishmael. A week prior, I had asked my host-family if they’d be keeping a sheep in the house. They told me it would not be possible because of the lack of space, but that was an apparent miscommunication.
One month and twenty-three days it took for culture shock to surge through my veins, its venom drowning me from within. Sheep vendors congested the medina and merchants selling knives, those that would be used for the sacrifice, were abundant. Grills went on sale so families could barbecue their sheep heads in commemoration following the slaughters. Blood pooled in cavities on the floor of the medina near the drains.
Rain washed it all away that weekend.
There is this dichotomy between existence and cognizance.
And I am awake now.