A Foreign Child to the Market

by Marwa Fichera

This work appears in Khabar Keslan Issue 1. DISORIENT

Credit: Marwa Fichera

Credit: Marwa Fichera

As a little ajnabi – foreign – girl, 
I was fascinated by the visits to the souq
in the busy life of Tunis. 

I was always welcomed
by the colourful pashmina scarfs
and the loud chants of vendors. 
“Ta’ali ya ‘aroosa” – come young bride – 
the men would say
with bright smiles
as they shook
hands with customers. 
I would laugh and turn to my mother. 
The market was covered by stretched fabric
the heat in
and created
refuge from
the midday sun. 
The smells of spices, 
especially qurfa – cinnamon – 
burned the back
of my throat
as I inhaled

A young boy
appeared from an alleyway
and pinched my arm
only to run away through the crowds; 
I still think about it to this day. 

Compassionate mothers
offered me bakhlawa or helwa
while they sat on stools
and silently observed. 

The market path seemed extremely elongated
for my small steps.

White powdery dust between my toes
made me
I had never worn sandals before. 

I miss the visits to the souq, 
in the busy life of Tunis. 

MarwaFichera is a young poet from Italy who is currently undertaking a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology in London, United Kingdom. My work is mainly based on identity, race, gender and mental health and it is inspired by my multi-ethnic background (Italian, Somali and Eritrean) and life experiences during my previous residency in Italy, Tunisia, and now in the UK.