« Who better than one of those suffering, could relate the tragedy that strikes his own people ?
And how could one, tell the unspeakable horror, when the language barrier is added to the tragedy ?
Everything that we could ever describe the darkness of their misery, the biting cold, the unbearable isolation or infant mortality, is worthless because the task is insurmountable .
It all starts at a barely constructed road. A long grayish ribbon eaten away by dirt, erosion and obstructions that wind along through the middle of nowhere and has claimed the lives of so many of its travelers. And everything ends at the bottom of a valley, where only the never ending icy wind that dares break the silence of the impressive Atlas. Between the two, nothingness, in the form of a desert of red ocher stones, split apart by the frost, and trails impossible to negotiate, which terrorizes even the most hardened mules. Paths that have been carved out because of constant walking on them by peoples who, because of having crossed through the history and conspiracies of men and Nature, can be grateful that their incomparable instinct for survival enabled them to conquer them. A prodigious genetic accomplishment!
Have you noticed how those from Anfgou talk about their misery? Smiling. Like that woman who describes the agony of her newborn who, for days on end, suffered from diarrhea, vomiting, cough, fever, before giving way to death, for lack of care.
A certain El Houcine El Ouardi, Minister of Health has indeed passed through there. A cocksure loudmouth, as only our political system knows how to produce, and who claimed to have met the mother in question. Pure and simple lies. What other reason did he have to come there, if not visit those who were suffering? The mother made no mistake. Her dignity spared her from meeting the Minister, because here it is well-known, better than elsewhere, that everything that comes from the Makhzen is all lies, distortions of reality, false promises and persecution!
So she lifts a finger to the presumed leader of the tragedy that struck her, the heavens. It is better to target that heaven than the « other one, » merely to stay alive. How many have died for daring, in the past, to denounce the officials truly responsible for this tragedy, and rise up against the negligence of the central government?! We no longer either talk about them nor count their numbers in this corner of the world, where even the mountains seem to have ears. Strangely, the one telling the story holds up, surprise of surprises, a mobile phone. Can civilization have thus come even here? No, but business yes, which persists in its profit-making despite all odds, or rather against all citizens! For those who have forgotten to reach out to this Morocco, did not fail to equip it with mobile phone towers, to better fleece its living-dead. Money has no smell. Death either! It’s well-known.
Several turns farther along in the Middle Atlas, a little girl emerged from her village, recounts another story in this tragedy. She comes from a village buried in snow, Tamlout. It would be renamed « Talmout », « unto death », so one could not get lost because this part of the Atlas is lined with corpses, each time that Nature takes over. The girl who has not even lost all her baby teeth, was thrust into an adult world, made up of cruelty and deprivation. She carries a baby on her back, as others might bear stigmata from a dark wound. Her mother’s death has left a weighty legacy, in the form of a younger brother. Her father’s orders did the rest. He condemned her to carrying this burden, as one would a cross. School was no longer a possibility. « Ourilli! « She smiled!
The story of a broken dream, about which no one will care! Other little girls like her are legion, who, at night, languish on filthy piles of straw for beds, growing up with beatings, insults, sexual abuse by their masters, nourished by the leftovers from feasts they have been instrumental in cooking all day long, in the well-to-do kitchens of several townhouses in major cities. Some, have even died from this kind of life.
The sum of everything that we could denounce, multiplied by a thousand, is insufficient to elaborate all the suffering of these wretched children. For every tragedy that comes to light, how many others remain in the shadows, until death comes again to remind us that life still really does exist in Anfgou and elsewhere! »
Translation by Jamila Wadallah