Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Mission: Impossible (or How to Date in a Place like Mauritius)

She meets me at my house. I have now become her alibi.

Her Mom knows me and, more importantly by far, knows my Mom. That is why she was allowed to visit me in the first place. But she is not there to see me, not really. We engage in a little chitchat here and there, we laugh about certain things. She's a little nervous.

We walk over to Plaza, the city centre of the glorious town of Rose Hill - a place I could faithfully call my hometown, at least for 6 years. It isn't my hometown anymore, but I know that place too well. If I ever go back, I'll remember the way to Plaza. It's hard to forget.


Plaza is a beautiful town hall. In my mind is it Rose Hill's pride and joy; a complex of offices and a gorgeous opera house which I have attended and performed at. Behind this colonial wooden structure is a parking lot, and small garden. The lot is full of old, crumbling low walls and trucks. The garden has high hedges.

Do you know what all of those are perfect for? Why, the secret rendez-vous!

And that is what we are doing. We are meeting a boy there. She has been waiting for a good two weeks to see him and hold his hand, so she is very eager and impatient. She blushes at the very sight of him.

He's a skinny guy with spiky, gelled hair. I think it's gross, but he is her Adonis, so what can I say? I smile, say hello, and go for a walk. This is their time, not mine.

Rose Hill is full of places to walk. I go into stores, maybe walk to the post office which is right by the bus station. An old woman sells boiled peanuts but I never buy any from her. I am, as always, severely tempted.

After about an hour of wandering or reading in Le Cygne bookstore, I go back to Plaza. I shyly walk by the many couples who are attempting to be unseen, but it is all very obvious. They are there to make out, and I am there to see if my friend is finished, because she needs to get back to my house soon. Her Mom might have called while we were out of the house. This is the age of telephones, not cell phones...

I see her sitting with her beau under a tree, against a mouldy-looking wall. It's gross, but they don't care. They are in love, and this is just the first step to them being together...forever.

No, it isn't. They will have a fight in a few months, or maybe in a few years, that will end in tears. She will probably end up getting an arranged marriage to a guy from a "good family" and he will hate her forever. He will text her many times a day before she gets engaged, because he cannot believe it is over. She will cry late at night sometimes. Her new husband might be good to her, or he might not. It never ends up the way you think it will.

The Muslim dating world is hard to navigate. It is unforgiving and, at times, heartless. The Muslim-Mauritian community may be the same in many ways, but when I was growing up there my friends and I had nothing but heart. We loved our girls and boys with all of ourselves. We didn't care about race, religion, or age. We just fell in love over and over, fully and crazily. This was a time of hormones and raging emotions, and Mauritius may have stifled us. We were young and full of love, but we had to do everything in secret. While it may have been exciting, the consequences could be dire.

I am unhappy with the knowledge that Mauritius hasn't really changed yet. The same mentality still exists.

I hope other Mauritians are still acting as alibis. As hated as we might have been by the righteous, weren't we a necessary evil?