In a village composed of families whose ties were made long before the earth was ever found to be round, he wanted segregation of the sexes. As if the women who’s presence he was rejecting weren’t the ones who birthed him.
In a culture where music, singing and dancing flowed as freely as the spring water the mountains provided, he said ‘only medahîn’. As if the bearded men who came from distant cities to drum and sing about the prophet could do a better job than the elder village women.
And so, the first pebble was thrown.
The village children were to guard the road, the loudspeakers were hidden under blankets, the short dresses covered by foutahs. They would celebrate anyway; without him. They would be happy anyway; for him.
Upon his return, he found a sweaty, rosy-cheeked, giggling village. His medahîn were placed in the mens section, his bride with the women. The women gazed at the young bride with pity in their eyes. The four hour journey in a hot car had caused the girls dinner to make a reappearance; the evidence in the form of a large stain on her dress. He hadn’t even noticed.
Then came the moment of the final rituals. The moment where even the most segregated of weddings allow a lapse in the unwritten rules. But he spoke; only he would come. He would come, but the other men would not. He would come, on the condition the women veil themselves.
The elder women gave their daughters that warning glare who, in turn, gave their daughters that warning glare. Three generations of women had spoken. He was free to have his beliefs, but they still had theirs. This village, these people, this country; they had had enough of men like him telling them what to do.
And so, the second pebble was thrown.
The rings were exchanged whilst the women stayed unveiled and the men stood on the surrounding rooftops and watched. The end was marked with zaghreet; a joyous sound, a war cry.
And so, the third pebble was thrown.
He left the village with his medahîn and his new bride; his jaw set. The car was on the outskirts when he heard it; the music. The voice of Alloua followed him around the mountain bends and rang in his ears until he reached the city. The villagers danced until morning; they had won.