Marrakech looks different at night. It also feels different, to the point it cam be kind of dreamlike. There are storytellers and musicians and jugglers and magicians. There are monkeys and snakes, too, most of them (but not all) disguised as men.
Just to the southwest of the square sits the famous Kutubiyya Mosque, one whose minaret tower is considered a symbol of Marrakesh. On the north side of the square is another mosque, one whose name is largely unfamiliar. Because of how it's woven into the shops and restaurants, it's kind of easy to miss. It's also where the locals pointed when asked about Isha'a prayer on our last night in the city.
We were supposed to have met up after the prayer finished. The idea was that she would stay in the shops next door.
Perhaps we had different ideas?
The first scan of the crowd after Isha'a was that normal sort of get-your-bearings, find your loved one. The first scan didn't take. No big deal. So, a second scan. And a third. Still no luck. Then a back and forth up and down all the nearby shops. Still no luck. Then another forth and back, and again the same.
No longer no big deal.
It's funny how the outside of life creeps into the prayer as thoughts and whispers. It's also funny--and thanks be to God for it--how the prayer can waft out into the outside of life.
A shopkeeper said, "Are you looking for your wife?"
His question took a second to sink in. It was clear he had taken note of us earlier on and had maybe even figured out our arrangement. He pointed and said calmly, "She went that way, around there."
Another hawker tried to approach, but the shopkeeper upbraided him in terms even a non-Arabic speaker could understand. Back off. He's off limits. The hawker shrank away. He may have even apologized? Allahu a'lam.
After taking the first turn, it was a fool's guess. And a prayer. A couple more turns and it was back to the shopkeeper. This time he gave a couple of extra hand gestures to show this-way-and-that. So the hunt resumed.
There was the initial direction. Then the this-way and then the-that.
And then...There she was.
There's no way the place we found one another could have looked the way it does in the memory today. Again, Marrakech after dark can play some peculiar tricks on the mind. So let's just agree that there won't even be a try to describe it, except to say that, somehow in that labyrinth of a medina, there was an opening where, one moment we weren't, then the next we were.
We wound ourselves back to the front of the warren, both realizing how fortunate we were. The shopkeeper smiled. We tried to buy something from him, but he insisted we could not. He didn't want to sell his goodness for a trifle.