It’s early Monday morning, a little after 4:30 am, and in my dreams I’m walking the halls of a school. Nothing surprising about that because I’ve spent all the previous month visiting schools for academic year-end English Day events as part of my job; judging public speaking competitions, doing spelling bees, delivering exam certificates, and giving speeches to promote the English Language. I live in Casablanca, and English is a foreign language, but there’s a current grassroots movement to make English the 2nd language instead of French, even if it’s not adopted by the government as such.
Anyway, back to my early morning dream. I enter a classroom, and as soon as I close the door behind me, I’m blasted away in an instant by one of the most beautiful faces I’ve ever seen. She’s a young woman of African origin, perhaps 20, wearing a long white cotton robe. Everything about her is tenderness and velvet. A shy smile is on her full lips, exquisitely shaped by our creator, as they move slowly in a soft “Bonjour”, pursing with the last syllable. I respond in English.
“Hello, I’m Anthony Blackwell, I’m here for English Day. What’s your name?”
“Gabrielle, I’m an English teacher.”
“That’s nice, we don’t have to speak French.” I say with a laugh.
Not a word more is spoken, as the glimmer in her eyes beckons me to approach. Our lips are just about to join as the call for prayer snaps me back into the world of men. All through the next day I’m haunted by my dream. I try hard every day to be a good man. I love my wife and our son with all my heart and never want to do any harm to them. Furthermore, I’m convinced that we will all be judged in the end and that resisting temptation is part of what it means to uphold the right way. Still, her face will not leave my mind.
On Tuesday I do a search on the net, on the social networks, for “Gabrielle” in Casablanca. It’s more out of curiosity than anything else, and I’m not really expecting to find anything…but…there she is. Gabrielle Kalala. The same angel face, there isn’t the shadow of a doubt in my mind. Another day goes by, and I keep going back to check Gabrielle’s profile. I’m obsessed. I have to write a message to her. I take a long time to carefully choose my words in French.
First of all, rest assured. I’m an old man (61) married and happy in my little family, and I love my wife and our son enormously. I could never think of doing either of them harm or cheating on my wife. I’m an American, and a Muslim, and I believe that I’m a good person. I’m an English teacher.
What follows may seem incredibly strange, but please believe me, it’s the truth.
I had a dream the night before last, and in the dream, I met a young woman in Casablanca named Gabrielle. The dream troubled me so much that I searched everywhere on the net yesterday, driven by some uncontrollable force, and when I saw your photo, it was a shock. I believe that you are the person that I saw in in my early morning slumber.
I don’t even have any idea why I’m undertaking this crazy endeavor to try to contact you, but something inexplicable is pushing me. I’ve had too many experiences in my life that have convinced me that destiny exists. Perhaps I’m wrong, and on the other hand, perhaps there’s a reason. Also, you must know that I have no material possessions and that my only wealth in this world is my family and my work; I love teaching. Financially, I’m constantly struggling (so I’m not miracle from heaven). 🙂
So, if you think that there may be indeed some reason that we should meet, I’m here. If, on the contrary, you believe that I’m just an old crazy fool, just don’t bother to answer me. It’s as simple as that.
(Link to my professional website)
The days go by without any answer. I keep going back to her profile. I look through all of her friends, most of them are from Brazzaville, so I assume that she’s French speaking Congolese. Her profile says she’s from Paris. What could she possibly be doing in Casablanca? Why did I dream of her? Why did we kiss in my dream? What’s wrong with me? Am I going crazy? What would my wife think of all this? The questions keep coming, and my obsession waxes day after day until it’s almost constantly at the back of my mind. I try to ignore it hoping that it will wane and leave me in peace. I hesitate time after time to send her a “friend” invitation, the cursor wavering over the “add friend” button, but never having the courage to click (The social network knows that I’ve been hesitating, don’t they? They know when your cursor hesitates over anything). To build my network I send invitations constantly to people that I don’t know, so why don’t I dare to send an invitation to Gabrielle? Two weeks have gone by and she hasn’t answered. I decide to delete the message.
To forget, I put myself into my work. I’m currently Head of Studies in a Language Center. I like my job and find satisfaction in it; however, I haven’t been able to come to terms with my boss over the question of pay since I started 7 months ago. So, coming to the realization that he will probably never pay me the salary I believe I deserve, and moreover he doesn’t even take into account that I often work 7 days a week, I start looking for a new job. I send out about a dozen job applications in a weeks’ time. A lot of schools are recruiting for the new school year.
I get a call from a large private school to come in for an interview. They’re just opening for their first year. It goes really well. They’re prepared to pay me the salary I’ve been asking for, a 30% increase on what I’m currently making, and on top of that, I’ll be doing what I love most; teaching high school English as well as heading the English Department. I’ll be off work at 4:30 pm instead of working up to 12 hours a day, and I’ll have all of the holidays that come with being a teacher.
The director of the school shows me around. It’s a lot bigger than I had imagined, modern, with smart-boards in all the classrooms. Everything is new and they’ve put a lot of effort into making an agreeable learning atmosphere.
It’s the week before the start of classes and I’m scheduled to give a two-day training session to all of the English teachers on the books we’ll be using as well as on classroom management and learner motivation. I meet with the Director, Ms. Hafsa Lioui, and she leads me up to the classroom where I’ll be giving the training. She motions to the door and leaves, telling me that she has to go, but to call her if I need anything. She’s sending a technician to make sure all of the equipment is working.
As soon as I walk into the classroom, it’s déjà vu. Her back is to me, but as she turns the dream comes alive. Her smile is captivating.
“Yes, you must be Mr. Blackwell, how did you know my name?”
“That’s right. Pleased to meet you, Ms. Lioui told me about you.” I have to lie.
“Happy to meet you too, I’ve heard a lot about you. It’s great to have you with us, I’m sure that I’ll learn a lot from you.”
Not a word more is spoken, as the glimmer in her eyes beckons me to approach. Our lips are just about to join when the technician walks in the door. Thank God I think to myself, thank you for saving me. But how will I manage to resist? I put my trust in God and know that I will manage.