Fiction with Faustine: A Journey Into The World Of Moroccan Soccer: Part 2
Junior Faustine Dufka of the women's soccer team recently wrote this fictional soccer story for one of her classes. She has decided to share her piece with Husky Nation by releasing two parts a week. Read part two below.
Souad Zehria envied her brothers deeply. When she was very young, she was allowed to go outside and play football with her older brothers, but as soon as she grew old enough to help with the chores and the cooking, she had to relinquish this pleasure. Her love for the game never subsided, but she always kept this passion to herself. The more Souad secretly longed to play, the more her mother tightened her grip.
Souad loved bringing mint tea to her father after dinner, because he always watched football games on the shabby television the family owned. As she poured him a steaming cup, she would steal glances at the game her father was watching. The vibrant green fields on the tiny screen came to symbolize her longing for the game. The realization of her dream to play football appeared as distant as the lush, perfectly mowed grass of the European football clubs. She knew only the dusty red alleys and empty lots of the surrounding area. She cherished these rare glimpses of the beautiful game, sometimes even purposefully spilling the tea, in order to extend the fleeting moments in front of the television. Her father never caught on, or so she thought.
On her way home from school, Souad would pick up discarded newspapers and scan the page for action shots of football players, which she would cut out and add to her growing collection. This was her most treasured possession, which she hid in a box underneath the bed she shared with her three brothers. Sometimes, she would find pages from L'Equipe, the famous French newspaper dedicated to football. An entire paper solely devoted to the sport she loved! The mere thought gave her the chills. If only she could read it, she would be happier. She attempted to decipher the words on the page with the little French she knew, but this often just frustrated her. How unfair that the class she had to miss every afternoon to help her mother in the kitchen was the French Language class? Yet she committed to memory the names of all the players and teams she could find, with the hope of one day seeing them play.
Souad slowly accumulated a soccer knowledge that could rival any boy her age, but she made every attempt to conceal her passion from those around her, especially her family. She could only imagine her mother's reaction if she discovered her only daughter preferred football to cooking, or the scene her father would make if he learned his adolescent daughter would willingly forego the jilbab for a football uniform exposing her bare arms and legs.
The only person she could confide in was Tarik. Schoolmates, Souad and Tarik had been friends since they were very young, and lived in the same neighborhood.
She remembered how they had first become friends, in first grade. Souad and Tarik regularly finished their in-class work long before the other students. Too busy helping the other students, their teacher would send them out into the yard to play. They would chase each other in circles until they were out of breath, or tell funny stories that would make them explode with laughter. These shared moments on the schoolyard had brought them quite close, and they stuck together from that point on.
Souad was sometimes allowed to go to Tarik's home after dinnertime under the pretense of doing schoolwork. On these occasions, they would run to an empty lot far from their houses to kick the ball around. This was the only chance Souad had to play football, and she had to carefully space out the times she went over to Tarik's house so as not attract any suspicion. The two would take turns practicing the moves that they had seen on television, or make up their own sequence of foot skills, more complex and creative each time. Tarik had given Souad a pair of shorts and a T-shirt, which she would conceal underneath her jilbab on her way out of the house.
In the warm evening breeze, she would let her imagination flourish, rolling, tapping, cutting, twirling around the ball, until she was dizzy with excitement. The moments were magical for her, the only time she felt liberated, free from her father's strict gaze and her mother's rigid expectations. They would play until the moon's reflection off the pearls of sweat on their temples softly reminded them it was time to return home.
It wasn't until later that night, when I was alone in my room, that I reread the letter slowly. I hadn't given it to the police. I'm not exactly sure why, but I had a feeling it would end up in the wrong hands if I turned it in.
Although he had lived across the hall for as long as I could remember, I realized that I knew nothing about this Monsieur Larbi. I suddenly had an irresistible urge to find out more about his past. I was a sixteen-year-old, incredibly curious teenage boy, and I was determined to uncover the events that had led to this man's mysterious demise.
Coach Ahmed called the boys in at the end of practice.
"Be here at three for our game on Friday. " Ahmed had a worried look on his face. One of his best players, Murad, had just broken the news that he wouldn't be able to play in the game. Murad's grandmother was very sick and his family was going out of town to visit her. The team was already short on players as it was, and they were playing their rivals, the Lycée Français de Rabat. Ahmed's team was pretty good, but they needed Murad: he was their best scorer. The timing could not have been worse.
"Since Murad cannot be there, do any of you know someone who could fill in for him?"
They shook their heads. This was expected: most of the teenage boys were unable to play for the school because they had to work after class got out, which was when the team practiced.
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