This post is the fifteenth in a series which starts HERE.
‘Hey lady! You wanna make a fuck with me?’
I ignore the moronic young lad and his giggling friends and continue on my way in the sweltering heat. My bump is heavy and I feel weary to the bone.
Samir is in prison, I’m managing the watersports base on my own, daunting when I’m seven months pregnant, and I’m so hot I think I’m going to melt. How I long for an air-conditioned supermarket instead of having to traipse to several different shops to get the ingredients for one meal. And the haggling! The grocer near my house tries to overcharge me almost every day. I can’t speak Arabic, but I can still count, I mutter pointlessly under my breath.
The young lad, with his pals loitering a distance away, walks beside me, trying to engage me in conversation. Maybe he thinks that if he keeps talking I’ll suddenly decide to make a fuck with him. Creep.
‘Fikara Zibie,’ I say. Piss off. Although startled I can swear in Arabic, he is undeterred and continues harassing me.
It happens a lot; Tunisian men try to engage me in conversation almost every day; mostly pleasant but irritating, sometimes rude and annoying. I’ve kind of got used to it, but there’s pent up fury gathering inside me that’s about to burst.
And right at that moment, I am hot, bothered, hungry and fed up. I’m not in a tourist area, I can swear in Arabic (which should tell him that I live there, if he had half a brain), I’m wearing an ankle length maternity dress, I’m noticeably pregnant and this ape keeps following me. All the way up the street, and into the bakery. He continues yakking away at me while I select some bread, then steps in front of me to block my way to the counter. He’s getting annoyed that I’m ignoring him. Well, buddy, I’m getting pretty damn angry myself.
The door opens and two of his friends come into the shop. This eggs the oaf on and he makes a rude gesture while still preventing me from going to pay for my bread. He takes a step towards me and I swing my bag at him. I have just bought a tin of tomato puree and it connects with his skull with quite a crack. He staggers backwards and knocks over a stand of bread. Then he recovers and launches himself at me. I see the madness in his eyes and race to the corner of the shop. I’m shitting myself. What did I do that for?!
There is a lot of noise; the baker is yelling at the young man and gathering the bread off the floor, gimp-boy is screaming that he’s going to kill me (I dunno, just a guess), and his friends are shouting at him and pulling him away.
Although shaking, I carry on to the till, leave money on the counter for my baguette, then walk past the group of lads. I want to hiss at him, next time you bother me you’ll regret it, but I’m nowhere near brave enough. Plus, I’m shocked at the damage I could have done to him with that tin of tomatoes.
What a day. I don’t want to go to a tourist restaurant and risk having another young Tunisian try to chat me up, I don’t feel comfortable going to the local restaurants on my own and being stared at because I’m the only woman, and I’m now far too exhausted to cook a meal. I can’t even bear to go to the greengrocer and haggle with him for a couple of apples.
I go my dingy apartment, eat the dry bread, and lie on my bed staring at the ceiling. Tears seep out of my eyes and trickle down the side of my face, gathering in ticklish puddles in my ears. The heat is so oppressive I can’t even summon the strength to lift my hands to wipe them away.
What the hell am I doing here?
Next: Solitude, part one
If you enjoy these blog posts, you might want to consider my debut novel, Daughter, Disappeared, a hard-hitting ‘women in jeopardy’ thriller, set in Tunisia. Please read the reviews on Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2eCnZRf. Or to purchase on Amazon.com, for those in USA/Canada: http://amzn.to/2ozbGe8.
There’s also my facebook page: Fiona MacBain – Writer – thank you!