I’d like to introduce you to my new soul-mate, Gaspard.
After the previous debacle of the BBQ’d coffee, Gaspard found me wandering the streets, thirsty, dazed and very confused. In true Medina fashion, he offered his hand and asked me if he would be able to help me find my way around the labyrinth. I shrugged him off as just another young street tout. Then he mentioned that his family owned a cafe.
Alors, what was there to lose?
The coffee … Mon Dieu, the coffee … was worse than the last lot I had to swallow. And the name, Cafe Cat … where did they get that from? But there was something different about this cafe. I felt safe, I felt the honest love of a family … I felt like I was home.
Gaspard is the eldest son of a family of nine. Very poor, his parents work from dawn till dusk, and then some more. At night, they go out foraging for food scraps from the back doors of restaurants. And yet, they seem to have everything they need. Gaspard manages his younger siblings with a fist of iron, although he’s the biggest softie I’ve ever met. Antoinette, the youngest, will be a handful when she grows up. But, for now, they’re all content to run around the back alleys of the medina, beating their toy drums and playing their version of ‘soccer’.
I sit with Gaspard for hours and regale him with stories from outside the medina walls … a place he’s never seen. He’s had no schooling yet he can speak in five different languages, and he can read well enough to adore the classics of the ancient world. Ah, to have the enquiring mind of a youth again … eh bien, c’est la vie!
I’d like to thank my oldest and dearest friend, Mademoiselle Julie Skarratt, for taking the photos of Gaspard and Antoinette. Their parents were so excited, they had the photos framed, and they take pride of place above the family basket.
Until next time, insh’allah,
Bixi el Fes