Monday, January 05, 2009

Algerian rain

In Iraq, we call the umbrella as Shamsya (=protector from sun). I have never been in a rainy city like I was in 2005 in Alger, the capital of Algeria. Every day I was going back home wet. One day I noticed all people are carrying Shamsyas except me and few eccentric people. I went running to a shop and asked him:

- Please, do you sell Shamsyas?
- What?
- Shamsya?
- …..?????
- ….this one I mean (I pointed to an umbrella).
- Uhh!! You mean Matarya (=protect from rain).

An Algerian poet said once: "the long distance between Algeria and Iraq is a geographical error".

Maybe it was because of the geographical error I wasn't able to follow the loosening of association of the first part of the novel. Some Algerian symbols were not clear due to the eastern dust in my Iraqi eyes. After the first 60 pages I passed, an Algerian rain cleared my eyes heralding the completion of a circle of understanding.

I was once watching the agerian satellite channel when I saw a delicate man talking with a warm voice about something that I forgot. He cause my attention. I knew after few minutes of watching that he is Wasini Al Araj.

When I saw his novel in Al Kamle publications in Bab Al Muaatham in Baghdad, the first thing to attract my attention was the picture of the cover. How can somebody see such a cover and don't think about buying the novel?
That child in the cover took me to trip in Algeria. The child was talking to me in an Algerian accent that I failed to follow at first. The child was sad. He left me alone and went murmuring things I failed to understand.
When I was alone, the sky started to rain on me. I felt afraid at first but after the second half of the novel I could form a circle of clouds of understanding. Wasini started to talk with his lovely voice to my cold frightened ears.

He told me about the hero of his novel, the journalist. He was a regular writer in an Algerian newspaper. His regular line is entitled: "from the archive". He was well till he started to believe that he is meeting one of the martyrs of the Algerian revolution. The martyr was his father. He knew that there would come a solar eclipse on Algeria that will last for some long time. If children and farmers would look at the sun they would become blind. The journalist started to be obsessed with that hospital of plastic surgery where they cut the noses of individuals. They also change the eyes and brain. They make all people look the same. They tried to inhibit him from continuing his research and his writings but he insisted till he was fired. His regular line was changed to a line written by somebody else entitled: "come with me".

The journalist was named after his mother, a thing that is rare, if possible, in the Arab world these days. He was called as the son of Aicha Limnaoura (=lighted life).
The novel was written in the 1980s. It seems that Wassini felt that an eclipse will come to Algeria. the title of his novel is something really complex. It got 2 titles. The second, the long one is easy, it means "the last witness on the assassination of the sea cities". The first title is something that I cannot translate easily. It means maybe: "the conscience of the absent".
After all, I hope that in 2009 Algeria is much better. I hope I can meet that child again. I hope I will see him happy and that we will dance together under the Algerian rain.


Jeffrey said...


You're still one of the most interesting Iraqi bloggers. Today I featured you in a blog entry for Iraqi Bloggers Central. Hope you don't mind.


Anonymous said...

Haha, we have matraya for umbrella. Shamsya is for something you would put over the picnic table or garden to make shade. A big thing.