Village Adventures

Mshairfeh, Jerash, Jordan

From Easter Sunday in Mshairfeh

With a 4-day weekend, it was easier than ever to get to Mshairfeh and back again for a quick visit before I trek off to Aqaba. One last breath of fresh air, as it were, before the stifling heat of the Gulf of Aqaba. The weather is always so much more pleasant up in Mshairfeh!

For a short trip, it involved a good deal of excitement.

I Come Bearing Gifts
I always bring Wijdan coffee when I visit, a holdover from my Peace Corps days, and usually cigarettes and a phone card. While I was in tariff-free Aqaba, I bought her a kilo of coffee and a whole carton of cigarettes. I know, I shouldn’t be feeding her bad habit, but Wijdan’s an adult, and cigarettes are her one indulgence. Besides, you should have seen the look of delight on her face as she was hiding the carton where her husband wouldn’t get to it! Just as you should have seen Rana’s delight when she came home from school to find coffee on the kitchen counter. No one mentioned the 4 liters of juice I brought for the kids … but it sure disappeared fast!

Making the Rounds
When I was in Mshairfeh for Sihil’s engagement, I got scolded by several of my former neighbors for only visiting Wijdan when I come back to Mshairfeh, so this time I intended to remedy that. (Never mind that I visit Wijdan because she calls every 3 days to find out when I’m coming back, and no one else calls at all….) Then, when I found myself on the bus full of girls I’d taught, including my neighbors Alia and Ayat, the plan solidified.

Around sunset, I went up to Umm Anis’s house. They’ve built a lovely little patio in their garden, with a little fountain and benches on 3 sides. The garden, too, has evolved. It was a sparse bit of land when I left Mshairfeh, but now the bushes and flowers are cheek-by-jowl. It was a lovely place to sit and visit, even if it was still a bit chilly for evenings in the garden.

Then I stopped by Ayat’s on the way back, having promised her little brother Ziad (aka My Favorite Jordanian) that I’d be by. Their parents were visiting neighbors returned from ‘Umra in Mecca, but Ayat and I had a nice chat about her English studies. Her teacher, obviously a new graduate, is very concerned that they have authentic pronunciation and be able to speak English, something sorely needed here! Then her aunts and uncles stopped by for a visit, all people I remembered and who remembered me. It was a fun time!

She Didn’t Even Flinch!
When I got back to Wijdan’s, we sat and chatted for awhile, and then headed for the sitting room where her husband Nasri and most of her daughters were already asleep. We hadn’t been there more than a couple minutes when Wijdan squealed. Mouse! She plastered herself against the wall in the farthest corner and started shouting to her sons to get rid of it. Then she started shouting at me, “The baby! The baby!” The mouse had disappeared under the mattress where baby Milak was sleeping, and as usual in a pest control situation, I was called on as the most level-headed person in the room. I scooped up the baby.

What ensued was a comedy of pulling up mattresses and beating about with a hand-broom. The boys woke Nasri, who had been fast asleep, and consequently stumbled around the room like a drunkard (Wijdan’s description of him, not mine!). After most of the mattresses had been piled up in the center of the room, the mouse decided to make a mad dash for the opposite corner. Everyone else shrieked and scattered, but as the mouse ran right over my foot, all I could think was, If I panic, I’ll surely drop the baby, clumsy idiot that I am!

Eventually, we caught the mouse, but as they retold and retold the story the next day, I found myself the hero. “The mouse ran right over her foot, and she didn’t even flinch!”

Queen of the Mountain
In the aftermath of the mouse incident the next morning, Ghadeer cleared all the mattresses and pillows out of the sitting room and cleaned. Meanwhile, Taqwa got no end of amusement out of playing Queen of the Mountain atop the pile of mattresses in the salon.

From Easter Sunday in Mshairfeh

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