By: SUSAN SKAZA
BIRTA, Morocco – Young Simo Mohammed likes to hang out along the main road of Sbaa Roudi, a rural village outside of Fez, Morocco. Wearing a red sweater and jeans, Mohammed wrestles with his friends and engages in conversations with neighbors along the street, who seem to know him well.
He stands about four feet tall and has dark skin and black hair that rests calmly on his head, at odds with his rambunctious character. Mohammed is as energetic as any young boy his age and just as khamak, or crazy, as a neighbor calls him.
In the small quiet village where people spend their days taking care of livestock, herding sheep, and planting and harvesting crops, Mohammed is a ball of energy bounding up and down the road. One day, when the mood struck him, he wandered to the Development and Solidarity Association building, where local women gather to learn crafts and socialize. There he climbed a tree, to show off his dexterity. Then he took charge of a game of catch with some visitors, which he quickly turned into a game of soccer with a baseball.
He’s constantly at play. While some of his neighbors are busy watching over their flocks of sheep, Mohammed dashes into the surrounding shrubbery and makes meowing noises. Once he is discovered he races away again, daring onlookers to chase after him.
On another evening, Mohammed rushed up to an old donkey-drawn cart and tried to jump on top of the heaping pile of fava beanstalks that had just been harvested for the cows. After failing again and again, he finally made it on top with a little assistance and rode the rest of the way home.
While the world may not be his playground, the village of Sbaa Roudi definitely is. He has the freedom, amongst his close neighbors, to explore the simple joys in life.