The boy in the Berber shop

The boy stood in the Berber market and stared until I pulled the camera from my face and looked him in the eyes.

I thought he might smile, but he didn’t. His father flinched in the chair as the souk barber grazed the tip of his ear, but the boy didn’t notice.

It was my 50th birthday, and I wanted to spend it surrounded by three friends and a country of strangers. What I needed was a reminder that the world could still surprise me. Some day, I wanted to be a wise woman, the kind of person whom people visited for advice and a cup of tea in a library filled with books that all had been read.

But not yet.

Across the souk near Asni, Morocco, the sounds of commerce swirled as people bought salt and goat heads and coriander and lentils. I didn’t hear it then. I heard only the shared question the boy and I never spoke.

“Why are you here?”

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