My name is Nora. In my language it means « The enlightened » but I’ve kind of lived in darkness for a long time. I live in Casablanca. My Berber parents came from the Atlas Mountain. Someone told me that people should not call us Berbers because that’s what the Romans used to call non-Romans: Barbarians. Our real name is Imazighen: The free people.
I was born in Casablanca. Someone told me that they made a great film about my city; a film of love against the Nazi cruelty with Jewish people. Why cruelty? Why Jewish people? I grew up with Jewish neighbors and my father bravely fought the Nazi with the French Army.
I’ve never been to school. In my time girls did not go to school. I had my first menstruation when I was 12. « Time for you to get married » they said. And they did marry me to a cousin. « He will take good care of you » I was told. And he did. I eventually loved him and gave him beautiful children. The children quickly grew and left. He disappeared one day. Someone told me he was living with a learned woman. I remained in a house that grew dull for an illiterate- no-more-housewife and a no-more mother.
Someone told me that there was a school for illiterate women. Shahrazade was the name of the school. Someone told me Shahrazade was the name of a very clever woman who saved her life because she was a good story teller. I would love to be a story teller!
O! The awesome adventure of learning to read! Letters, words, sentences, books, stories: reading, writing, great keys to so many magic worlds. Such a travel in time and space! I NOW CAN READ and WRITE and… the world has to know it.
The » Villa des Arts » in Casablanca is the beautiful house of a Moroccan Jewish family, built in 1933. It is today a must place in Casablanca for big cultural events. The cream of the city meets there: Artists, writers, musicians, lecturers. « Villa des Arts » is where as a member of the Shahrazade School, I will read the poem of my life for the first time.
So intimidating an audience! And television too! Oh My God! I’m scared; but by and by my beautifully arranged words started flowing in a triangle dance between my heart, my paper and the audience. Loud applauses, emotion! Overwhelmed I dare a glance around the room. At a corner of the theater, my husband and children stood in tears.
What is Love? One name for it is knowledge. No one told me. Now I know.