130 year-old Haj Ali expects many happy returns in the 21st century
Morocco, Local, 11/11/2000
Haj Ali is a man who has plans for the future. The 130 year-old man who cruised through the century unscathed and lived under seven kings sees his 131 children and grandchildren as quite a handful and daily shores at the Serghine village, neighboring on the famed Kelaat Mgouna in the Atlas mountains, are a challenge he is more than willing to take.
Orphaned of both parents early in the 70s of the previous century, he grew up in his native village and led a normal life with fellow peasants hardly aware of History unfolding. But the man can still conjure up vivid memories of landmark events such as the tour of King Hassan I in the Sahara, the Boughafer Battle, the occupation of Figuig or the arrest of Moulay Abdelmalek.
His eyes, though no longer as sharp as the ears, sparkle anew when he tells of his nightly adventures with caravans heading for Marrakesh and his frequent voyages to Algeria through Boudnib and Oujda. Decades failed to bow the back of Haj Ali Ait Lahcen who talks, with little nostalgia, about his first wife and six children, all of them grandparents now.
Yes, when he was a little over 120 years old, he sought medical care. Heavy surgery was required and doctors saw no hope for the unusual patient. One week later, Haj Ali took the bus from Marrakesh to Kelaat Mgouna and walked the remaining distance to his home and family.
Yes, Haj Ali does have a secret. He never knew what a diet is, except for the last decades where failing teeth banned candies and other sweeties.
The man who says he still has a lot to do in life and means to take time to do it, was devoted a full page in the "Al Ittahad Al Ishtiraqi" daily release of last Tuesday.
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