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Sunset Planet

Sep 4

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9/4/2010 2:14 PM  RssIcon

Sunset Planet by Benneh Massaquoi

It was a Monday. I was outside lounging in the front yard. The dogs were barking at the neighbor’s cat, the bees were buzzing across the way, and I was watching them: buzzing, dancing, playing with each other, spinning, swimming round and round, humming…I drifted off to sleep, and there he was again! That man! I knew him once before. His name was… Ahom.  He held out his hand, pulled me from my lounge chair and walked me away to… somewhere dark and dank and…unreal…
“Look,” he said and before us appeared three globes, green and black and gold.
“This is your home America” he said, pointing at the Gold – “This, is another land,” and his hand landed on the green.
“Here, the people love religion. Alot.”
“Okay…” I said
“And here”, he remarked, touching the black, “They hate it.”
I shuddered.
“Where will you go?”
“Go?” I stepped back.
“Yes, go. You must go. Now! Choose one…”
“Whoa now, hold on…”
“Okay, but… do you have any other options?”
And the man smiled, slowly, slyly, and from behind his back he pulled a globe, it was small, round, gently glowing… hazel…
“Alright, that one” I said, reaching out slowly for the glowing sphere –
Then suddenly the man leapt forward and, with a cackle, thrust the globe into my outreached hand – one minute I was there, in the dark, dark room, and the next, I was in…
“Sunset?” the sign flashed on and off, on and off…
“Yes, come on…!” and the small boy with the small blue turban led me away to a showroom with a shiny red car, an old suburban, and…a camel?
“Which do you choose?” he said.
“Umm…” I looked at the camel. It spit something white, gooey, and shiny on the ground; “The red one, please.”
“Of course, as you wish, here in Sunset Planet, you have options, you can choose to live any way you want. Myself, I prefer the camel, but, friend, to each his own!” His blue turban slipped to the side as he jogged to the car, throwing me the keys.
“Yalla bina!” he hollered.
I looked at him quizzically.
“Let’s go!”
“Oh. Alright…”
Then we were off. I was feeling kind of hungry. First stop, a restaurant! Which one…
“Are you sure you want to go there?” the young child asked me.
“Why not?”
“Because –” and he flung his arm around him, “Look around, friend! Here, in Sunset, fresh fruit is sold on the streets. And at home –” he raised his eyebrows – “At home, we make food from scratch.”
“So what? I like packaged foods. And box foods aren’t that ba–”
“We have that too,” he said. “But I’m going to show you what REAL food is made of!” And he grabbed the wheel, turned it sharply to the right, and out of nowhere popped up a small, quaint house in the middle of… the desert. Winds, camels and all. 
“Come on,” he said, “Lunch’s waiting!”
And it was. And what a lunch it was!
Chicken in a plate off lovely green sauce, beans, onions, is that… I don’t know, but it’s good! Bread! Bread! So much fresh bread, do I smell… and yes, his mom entered the room carrying a large plate filled with something round and cake-like, chocolate, supple…
I licked my fingers clean, and then Riyadh (that was his name) said:
“Benneh, I would like you to meet my elder brothers.”
And meet I did.
Ahmed was tall, dark, serious and… bearded. Okay… Hassan was slender, cheerful, kind, and particularly handsome…Saeed was suave, slick, really chic, with a black leather jacket to match his slicked, gelled hair…interesting…
“Which one do you want?”
This time I laughed.
“All three, please!”
“No,” Riyadh said, “only men are allowed to do that.”
“…Okay. Well, come on Hassan. You’re just right. Let’s go.”
We left together, and at first it was a little awkward, but we got used to each other pretty fast.
“So, where to?” he asked me.
“Um, the desert’s a bit much for me right now, I just want to relax.”
He smiled that LOVELY smile of his, and pulled the wheel to the left…
“This way…”
And there it was. Sparkling waters and all. A beach laid out just for me, breeze blowing, waves crashing, sun shining, sand calling my name…
I lay down and basked in the sun for three, maybe four days, until…
“Yes, sir.”
“Your VISA has expired, it’s time to leave Sunset.”
“What? No. It’s only been four days!”
“A whole three months, actually.”
“What? No!”
The officer pulled me up by the arm and dragged me away. I shouted for help – “Hassan! No! Please! No, don’t!” – to no avail. I was back in America in an instant, and woke up with a start, still lounging in my lawn chair.
“Hassan?” I sighed, and silently vowed to tell the tale of Sunset Planet to  everyone I ever met. So, now you know. If a place like this exists, it’s worth searching for. And if we ever find it, friend, we should try and pay it a visit! For there you’ll find the modern and immodern, the packaged and unpackaged, the religious and irreligious… you’ll find deserts, and beaches, did I mention mountains? Yes, and green landscapes too!
You’ll find all the worlds you’ve ever known, all mixed into one… well – you’ll never want to leave… sigh…And maybe you won’t have to! (If you plan properly and get your VISA renewed…)
* ‘Sunset’ = “Al Maghrib” = ‘Morocco’ – so, Get Going, my friend!

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