Thursday, April 28, 2011

Un Amor

Un amor
Un amor vivi
Y mi decía
Las palabras de Dios
Llorando por ti
Es con amor

A card of identity is produced as fast as possible to the newborn. In Iraq, they used to write our beliefs in our cards too. Some, got their real identity stable as the stability of the card information. Some, wanders around.
Esmeralda had no card of identity. Her identity is her multicolored skirt, which waves to the wind. And every time I reach in my wandering in front of her, next to Notre Dame de Paris, she repeats her question to me: who are really you?
Puzzled and enchanted I usually don't find an answer. All I can read in my identity is one love. Un amor.

Un amor vivi
Llorando ya tormentado
Las palabras de Dios
Llorando por ti
Es con amor

Dehbia is her name, and she is Christian. And a Berber. Orphan. Very poor. Spending her life between two small villages, with Amazigh names that are difficult to remember. Difficult to remember, difficult to reach, but cannot be imagined but to be between mountains, and having no road paved to. Dehbia, is so white, pale white. And she wears the same dark colored clothes. And is serious. So, is there anyone but Amer, the atheist, the communist, who has just come from France, to fall in love with?
And to add the last flavor, Amer is like the majority, muslim, a religion that was not chosen, but inherited.

Yo quisiera
Para entenderlo, un amor y saber
Que me quería ya tormentado
Las palabras de Dios
Llorando por ti
Es con amor

It is the 68th page, from this 204 pages novel and still, we are no more advanced in information from the first page, the day Amer was killed. The 68 pages, so far, is a retrograde remembering. It is Dehbia's flow of thoughts while she is lying silently in the darkness alone. Her mother, Nana Malha, is frightened from what may happen next. Yes, her mother, Nana Malha. There is only her mother Nana Malha, from whom Dehbia, must have, taken her sense of pride. A pride, of the poor, and of the minority.

Hay para ya vivir acunto a ti

Me enamoré allá de ti

Ya sin tus besos yo no puedo

Vivir y recordar

Mouloud Feraoun's novel, "Les chemins qui montent" is a novel about love, and identity. Not only the identity of individuals, but also, of mountains.
Like Amer, Mouloud Feraoun, the novelist, was killed. Yet, the novel is still unfinished.
My Esmeralda, would you accept me as a Quasimodo? As the one who saves you from the priest?

Waiting for my Esmeralda to reply, many crossroads has been crossed and still, the love, is Un Amor.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Why Does the Sea Laugh?

They say translation is treason. A betrayal. And this is special when the case is a poem. But let us leave the word-for-word translation to dictionaries and sit together little bewildered in front of symbols. Symbols sometimes reach the shore of abstract. The words are symbols, for they are concrete, and in whatever combination they are, they would be still, codes, or in another word, symbols. But music is abstract. Words and music meet in a song.

(A male pronoun talking:)

Between me and you wall after wall

And I am neither a giant nor a bird

In my hands there is a Nay*

And this flute is broken

And I became a proverb of love

(The two lines Refrain is in a female prnoun – i.e. a female is talking:)

And why the sea is laughing while,

While I am going down unveiling flirtatiously filling the jars **

I came to Algeria with two Ph.D.s of psychiatry and an M.B.Ch.B. of medicine and surgery and that was 8 months ago and still, they don't answer me if my diplomas are equivalent. They are studying my case, they say, and "it is a difficult case" they add. Meanwhile, I cannot practice. I have worked as a seller in a pharmacy for two months and few days, and then worked with a relative as a repairer of different kinds of motors for another two months and few days. I have self-studied French, and read few Algerian history books and novels. Still the sea is laughing and I don't know why.

The sea is angry and is not laughing

For the story is not for laughing

The sea wound never withers

And our wound had never ever withered

And why the sea is laughing

While I am going down revealing my body childishly filling the jars

Wounds, the lyrics is talking about. Wounds, from them I got many. Ignorance, in me, and in my surroundings, keeps some wounds open. And in the sea, wounds hurt more, because they are sensitive to the salt in the sea. The sea might clean them, or heal them; I am still ignorant of these possibilities. After all it is life, a long lesson, and some lessons are not an enjoyment you know. I promise you that I will give myself a vacation as soon as I can and go out of the narrow classroom to promenade in beautiful Algeria. I will take pictures and share it with you. But for God's sake why the sea is laughing?

Our jars' pottery is GNAWI ***

Saying stories and songs

Oh jar of lowness I am intending

To not drink even if the water contains honey

And why the sea is laughing

While I am going down revealing flirtatiously filling the jars

* (A kind of flute made from reed).

** (This line of the Refrain is translated in a new way each time it is repeated hoping to convey the meaning better).

*** ( I have failed to find the meaning of the word GNAWI as an adjective to a type of jars but it can be used as an adjective to a type of music special to the Amazigh tribes in north African desert).

The song is originally of Sayyed Derwish. Here performed by Mohammed Munir.

Monday, April 04, 2011

The Poor Man's Son

"The Poor Man's Son", the title of the novel, has two declarations, a declaration of sonship, and a declaration of poverty. The protagonist is born the same year the writer has been born, and in the same village, in 1912 in Tizi-Hibel high in there in the mountains. Both of them became, a teacher.

The declaration of sonship in the title makes us understand simply that the writer is in psychological peace with his father. His father the farmer there up in the mountains between the fig and olive trees.

From the first page he tells is in realism: "what is present in the areas of the Kabylie is almost present in everywhere", abandoning making his novel a myth, blowing it with heroism, drawing a magical halo around the mountain tip up there where the village is. Here is another two lines:

"We, the Kabylies, understand those who praise our area and like to hide its insipidity under the description of the praise yet we realize exactly the vile impression which our poor villages leave even on the sympathetic visitor." Page2

"But I admit that my aunt, Khalti, taught me who to dream and who to love to build a suitable world for me, a fabulous world that nobody but me can have access to." Page 70

Talantikit Edtions of the novel in the original text (French) and its translation to Arabic by Sid Ahmed Trabulsi

One of his aunts, Nana, dies while she was trying to give birth to her first child. Her baby dies with her. She drags her baby with her to the cemetery in melancholy and mourning. His other aunt, the one who taught him dreaming, started to have a mental illness. A kind of psychosis. They were obliged to tie her in a room. She runs away. Force her back. Laughs and sings. Her eyes are lost in the no-place and the no-time when she is quite. Runs away again, but this time they don't ding her. They started to search the cadavers which go down from the tip of the mountain in the small stream, but no trace. They put an end to their search by the belief that she is dead and they practice lesser sadness.

"Childhood memories lack fineness and binding: we hold few valid images that the heart can always gather, one after the other when he remembers them,…."

The protagonist, Fouroulou Minrad, finished the primary school with success. There was no secondary school in the village nor near it. He won a grant to study in Tizi-Ouzou, exactly how is the case with the writer, Mouloud Feraoun. Still he was facing the problem of lodgment. Azir came to him, another poor student, and offer the solution: to live with him the coming four years in the Protestants missionary that lies in front of their school. This missionary was accepting the students who were coming from the mountains and provide them with electrified room, with a bed, a chair, and a table, and coffee and bread in the morning, and all for free. The students were gathered in the evening to be told about religion. They were "Les Peres Blanc". They didn't oblige the students to do anything special. Fouroulou and Azir were going to the meetings regularly, read a verse from the Torah like everybody, sing a recitation with diligence, hear the explanations, then go back to their room to resume their work without hesitation. The writer tells us that his protagonist had an inferiority complex at the beginning form other students in the missionary and in the school, and from the teachers too, but after relatively a short time he: "gave up his inferiority complex". Nobody saw them asking for explanations, about his point or that, regarding religion, nor they did ask the monk to say a prayer or an invocation for their sake. They slipped away.

What? I spoiled the chance of you enjoying reading the novel? But is that possible! Did I tell you about the rituals of harvesting and gathering figs and olives? Did I tell you about the secrets of making dishes and jars from mud? The traditions of marriage? The traditional therapies? The décor of the interior of their houses? The wool weaving? Or traditional childhood plays?

In this novel there are, if you may, exploits and tunes, the exploits and fig and olive, the melodies of mud and wool, and fissured hands from the excess of manual working, hands which time had didn't pass on without leaving a trace, hands closer to the nature, to the fig and olive there up in the mountain, hands nearer to the mud and wool.

Oh Mouloud Feraoun, how beautiful is your reciting, for it seems that your aunt who taught you how to dream then she was swallowed by her own dreams depth, had and will stay reciting an original Kabyle Amazigh melody, as old as the mountain, up there in the highs.