Fez blue, Marrakech red, and the supple shade of jade found on a marble pillar in the Hassan II Mosque of Casablanca. My Pentax camera was blind to all these hues and recognized only the contrast of black and white that would reflect on the roll of Ilford film tucked inside. Dangling from my neck, I had felt its solid weight and wondered if it could experience the same feverish tinge of apprehension that enveloped me in a daze and exoticized the already-unfamiliar sights to my vision.
The camera grew lighter as the days went on. My eyes absorbed the full spectrum of colors that the Fez Medina eagerly proffered: the mossy and at times yellowish tint of olives that formed small, but not unimpressive mountains on the tables in front of suk (market) stalls, the bronze glean of freshly-hammered copper kitchenware, and the vivid tuscan glow of ornate iron-cast lamps that, when heaped together in the same narrow shopfront, threatened to deliver a blaze as strong as that in Incendies. All that was lost to the Pentax, it was true. But still there was some gain: the carved spirals on the gate entering the ancient university, the single thread that escaped the ends of a newly-dyed scarf, billowing in the tannery breeze.
And the sand dunes. The luscious curves and dips of the Sahara Desert captured in a dance of white light and geometric shadows. As dusk befell the plains, a bright cerise stretched and spread rapidly across the sky. The needle inside the viewfinder swiveled up and down excitedly, shaken by the change in landscape. Soon it became a coral, a rusty amber, deepening into a mauve, then a grayed lavender. And then it was gone completely, leaving the caravan in the distance in only their outlines.
Yalla habibi. Let’s go, my love. The words of the nomad ring between the speckles of sand swept up by the desert wind.