Since I have known Fatma I have spent time on the playground in her neighbourhood. There are hardly any ethnically Dutch people there. Women wearing headscarves, Moroccan men and people from the Dutch West Indies and Surinam. Fatma meets the other women and chatters with them in Arabic. The women apologize to me, but I don’t mind. I urge them to speak Arabic with their children, even though the teacher tells them to speak Dutch. They nod, yes, yes, is better to speak Arabic at home, and I am their friend.
Sometimes Fatma goes on an errand, and I stay behind to watch her children. They come to me when they have fallen and scratched their elbow. A little girl with big brown eyes digs into her coat pocket to dump a load of marbles into my cupped hand. They are beautiful, shiny and scratched with numerous tiny dents from playing. She tells me their names: dragon, the sea, the sky, disco and one: the sea of Morocco. It is green and yellow and red. I didn’t know the sea of Morocco was green and yellow and red. And so gorgeous!
It is very peaceful to sit there, basking in the sun, watching people do what they have done since the beginning of time: play, gossip, tending children.
The riches of life.