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(Ouvre intégrale publié dans Trois romans algériennes)

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Sereines ou tourmentées, quatre femmes nous entraînent dans leur quête sur la terre algérienne d'un futur possible, d'un présent viable. Leur intimité, leurs désirs le plus fous et le plus vitaux, les beautés que recèlent leur univers éclatent dans Glaise Rouge. D'une sensualité rare, ce roman renoue avec la grande tradition féministe de l'écriture: bouleversante, dérangeant, acerbe et tendre, lucide et utopique.

Hawa Djabali--GLAISE ROUGE

Arris et un enfant des Aurès, arraché à sa mère et à son terroir violé, puis emmené vers le Nord. Indifférent à la gloire, au luxe, à l'amour, il traverse le siècle à la recherche de son enfance et d'une identité obsessionnelle. Hymne à la terre et à la maternité, ce roman lyrique et lancinant, cruel et tendre, est aussi une interrogation sur la quête de soi et sure les liens charnels qui unissent un pays et un peuple.

Yamina Méchakra--ARRIS

En 1986, une jeune femme Française découvre l'Algérie, pays d'ou est originaire l'homme qu’elle aime et dont elle a perdu la trace. Sa soif de comprendre l'amène à partager le quotidien des hommes et de femmes qu'elle rencontre. Poussée par l'envie de voir la fresque de la Dame blanche, aperçue dans un musée, elle pat vers le Sud. Que cherche-t-elle vraiment? Que Trouvera-t-elle entre l'ombre et la lumière?

Geneviève Briot--L'APPEL DU SUD
TamattuT nnegh machi ghir i waghrom
Tattali zang u yis wa Traffed' agastur."
The shawi woman isn't just for house work
She rides the horse and carries a sword.


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Yamina Méchakra

(Opens integral published in Three novels Algerian)

The mother closes the hands cockles some around the mouth of Arris. Collect the bilieux vomit which it pours in an old rag which is used to him as towel. The small one recovers to drowse.

The mother plunges the hand in her blouse, by car a tiny package. From its feverish fingers, it draws aside the ends sullied with oil of the newspaper and discovers a gilded fritter, sugar cover. The small one refuses to eat. It feels less only. On a bench, old woman of two wars, it lengthens Arris wrapped in a bath towel. The patients laid down with same the ground, and outside until on the pavements, recall him the year of typhus atrociously: that feels spittles and the fever and the small one do not want to open the eyes. Green, spumous spittles and covers of flies meurtrissent the sight and the stomach to him.

The mother rubs the hand to heat it, raises the towel and gently slips it on the back of Arris.

The monster is, large there like an orange. It palpates it; it is fluctuating. Small the geint. It withdraws its hand discreetly. Then again slips it towards the monster; it is not bone. It checks the vertebrae, with one: all present. Is the monster, it what then?

The death which starts to live the small body?

The child groans. He wants to drink. It raises it with precaution, without touching with the animal. He makes swallow some mouthfuls of water and the recouche. The water bottle makes the turn of the patients and disappears in the mob from the hands.

The mother sighs and plunges her hand in her blouse; in the car a tied handkerchief. It unties it, seizes some coins which nest there; the account, recounts them. It is well that: it was not mistaken. The rabbit was not large, thin like a cat; not more than one meat pound. Its customer made him understand that it bought bone… if it granted some value to him, it is well because the small one died…

- It is how much the visit in the doctor? , she asks a young patient.

- It is my father who pays, I do not know…

- It is rich, your father?

- That looks at it. I do not know…

- It is nice, the doctor?

- It is my father who knows, me I do not know…

The weather is fresh during the mornings at the village. The sun starts to come up. It is the first time that it comes to the village. There is world. Much too many people… and it is only five hours of the morning.

Is it necessary to fight to enter in the doctor? Is it necessary to fight? They all are sick, very weak.

A silence fell down on the pavements and in the room. An individual clean, elegant, advances, a bunch of keys to the hand.

The patients, leaned with the door, deviate. The mother puts herself upright and collects against it Arris. Those of the pavements are at the main door; those of the room to the door of the cabinet. A hubbub accompanies the scuffles. Pity for the children who choke! Pity for the broken old men! The individual reappears, with, in hands, a bundle of tickets which disappear in a mob from fingers, cries, tears. He closes again the door and each one will be packed in its corner.

The mother rocks Arris on her knee. She holds with the hollow of her hand a yellow paperboard carrying two features. She closes again the hand and considers red scratches on her wrist. She will still fight for her small. Didn't it build a chimney, the winter spent, so that it does not tremble any more the evening? They do not have sufficient coal. They are heated with a sun crumb. The cedar is a crowned tree, said the patriarch… It pushes in this soil only the cedar. One does not touch there. People of the soil do not know the use of coal, then they mix some collected brushwood die die with the droppings of goat or sheep. They know how to light fire, far from any civilization. They suffer all from ophthalmologic diseases; their eyelids bleed of the times and their breath is difficult; times, they spit of blood. In the cold countries, people spit of blood following pneumonias… It is the back of the medal!

Half-compartments of any information; electricity their is unknown, therefore not radio. They live in a cut world of the rest of the world. The Patriarch is there, the Almighty. It is him which can tell to them that in a country, formerly, the men had tamed the flash and the flash enabled them to probe the universe and thus they made ground a cursed place. Didn't it clear with naked hands a given up plot of land, to cultivate the most appreciated potatoes there soil? Didn't she learn how to tan leather to make to him boots in period of freezing? Doesn't it carry it on the back every morning until at the wizard so that it looks after his reddened eyes, and his swollen eyelids? Its cough also is dry. The wizard will cure all that. One trusts him.

A noise of engine perforates the silence of the morning. A beautiful individual, more beautiful still than the first, arrives. The mother tressaille… White appearance. Number one! , the male nurse shouts.

Tens of tickets are held up.

- Only one: the number one!

The door snap behind the dying man.

- You can read? , request the mother with the young girl.

- It is my father who knows, me, I do not know…

The mother draws aside the fingers and lets foresee the paperboard.

- How the ancestors protect you! My daughter, helps me!

- I cannot read, I am afraid!

- How all the scorpions of the Sahara bite the language of the cowards!

The mother leans on the small body and takes leave. A patient seeks to exchange his ticket against a few dinars and a underprivileged number. The mother makes him sign.

- Man, can you read?

- I sell my services, woman!

- How the ancestors bless you… come!

- One dinar the syllable, woman! You four dinars, do you want owe me to exchange?

- Not!

The mother unties the handkerchief again; he give four dinars.

- How all the snakes of Africa bite the hands of the robbers! , she adds. She counts, recounts the few coins. It is well that; she lost only four dinars.

Arris, the mi-clos eyes, follows the epic of the mother. It follows until the quivering of its lips.

The door opens on the dying man number one. It appears with the mother such as it entered. Perhaps a little sicker.

- That God comes you to assistance, man!

He does not hear.

With each cawing of the male nurse draws up a dying man. An old man rises, emmitouflé in an immaculate cape. The young girl follows it. Five minutes later, it returns in its place, the turned pink cheeks and the eyes larmoyants.

- Did the doctor thunder you? , questions the mother

- Not.

- Then, it is the different one?

- Not.

- You suffer?

- Yes.

- Of what?

- Of trouble…

- Marie, my daughter!

- My father does not know it.

- And the doctor?

- Either!

- How all the mad jackals bite with their ignorance! Goes, and that your purity comes you to assistance!

Arris recovers to vomit. The mother raises it and presents her hands cockles some in front of her mouth.

She again pours bilieux vomit in the old sweater, there essuie the fingers. Small the halète. He does not want to lengthen any more. The mother retains it on her chest, emmailloté in the bath towel. She judges that it chokes thus and the arms release to him.

Pale deaths alive, good bearing, faces, pinks, blacks, yellows answer the call of the male nurse. Arrive it tower of the mother. She starts, greenhouse the small one against her chest and, of a jump, catches up with the male nurse.

She finds herself in a narrow, dark part. It takes him one good moment to perceive the objects. The male nurse draws a card on which are registered good number of questions.

- I know only, known as the mother, that it is called Arris and that it is four springs old. He was born at the beginning of spring and there is that four springs.

The male nurse reverses the small one, places a thermometer in the anal opening to him. The mother does not include/understand anything and refuses, at the bottom of itself, this strange gesture.

- It is feverish; from what does suffer he?

- The monster.

She takes the hand of the male nurse and the installation on the tumour. She collects with Arris tenderness against her chest. Untie its handkerchief again and puts some coins in the hand of the male nurse who is closed again, under the attentive glance of the child.

The male nurse rises and draws a curtain. The mother finds herself in an immense room. Struck, she does not see the doctor.

Its eyes are delayed on a black marble dog.

- God! it is a dead dog and, however, it seems to live; all breathes the respect of the life.

The doctor is there. He smiles, is polished, seems good. The mother entrusts the kid and the male nurse, the card to him. He does not say a mot. He reads the card of a feature. Strip Arris, the met on the belly.

The legs hails and dull of the child seem to hold his attention. He auscultates it. The mother awaits the miracle. It palpates the tumour and known as: “Take again the child”.

The mother, to knees, raises the arms in a gesture of prayer, gathers all her courage and howls:

- The monster, Lord! Death lives the back of my son!

- It is the business of the hospital, Madam!

It moves towards the wash-hand basin, washes the hands. The mother takes again her child. He tightens an ordinance and a letter for the hospital to him, over there, in the big city. Over there, they tamed the flash and lost the sun as the Patriarch told it.

The doctor asks for an important sum then. The mother tightens the handkerchief. The male nurse seizes himself some and vacuum the contents on the shining wood of the office.

The mother kneels and starts to embrace the shoes of the doctor to excuse her poverty. He makes sign with the male nurse of the congédier.

Outside, it finds its directions. It assied with same the tiling. Its head bourdonne. She thinks of the soil and makes the effort be raised. A swarming traverses the legs to him. She takes a step, then two and stops. A passer by attaches the child to him on the back. Arris, the head posed between the maternal scapulas, falls asleep.

It from goes away until the place of the market where it hopes to find a traveller of its soil. It assied opposite the main door of the market, curved to allow the child to better rest. It supervises the comings and goings.

The sun types extremely, very extremely. The hours pass, slowly, sadly. It details the travellers. They end up resembling each other all.

Arris tressaille and grogne. It knows that the flies run on its sick eyelids and disturb its sleep. A throbbing pain pulls about the pit of the stomach to him.

Usually, a plate of semolina to milk the calm one. It is seized by shivers, of headaches. It is raised with sorrow and penetrates in the market. Mint, vegetable odors, fritters invade the nostrils to him. It realizes that it is hungry. The cries of the merchants strike the tympanums métalliquement to him and are transformed into a painful waltz which will merge with its cephalgias.

An helping hand attracts its glance. Opened, it remains suspended above a cluster of open grenades. It moves away while trottinant fruit which gives trachoma. The sight… it is the gasoline of the life, taught him his/her mother. The eyes must live.

She immobilizes herself in front of a display of shoes. There is of all the colors, of all the sizes. She dreamed, little girl, to look at as many shoes as its eyes could contain some…

She wants to give all that, yes, all that with small. She calls it gently. Arris geint. Can its legs hails be rectified one day! She will weave then to her white plaits to make to him the most beautiful shoes of all the region!

A cat runs between its legs. She starts. It leaps over the display and falls down while miaulant with the foot of the counter of a gargotier of the market. The hunger bites the pit of the stomach to him. She joined the cat, firm the eyes and tightens the hand…

- In the name of God.

The pain turns, turns in its head and shears the eyes to him. A hand seizes his and, with force, closes again it to him on small something.

The mother withdraws her hand and from there will take note in the search of a quiet corner of the fruit of its first begging… It leaves to be packed with the foot of the enclosure which surrounds the market. There, she dares to open, draw aside the fingers. She considers the price of the begging: a meat nut dries. It slips it into its mouth. Turns, turns over it between its teeth before chewing it.

Arris is not still hungry. That worries it, the mother. She ceases mastiquer and pays all her attention towards Arris. He saw… Its breathing cherishes the scapula warmly to him. It passes the hand on the legs hails. They are wet. Reassured, the mother goes back to research, in crowd, of a child of the tribe. There must be some of them well… They were numerous to have left the soil this morning: Daas, Douga, Chou' ib, at the same time as it. They walked on together. Daas transported the kid to him. They are all his/her children.

She sang, she danced during the day of the circumcision of each one. She is always among the procession of women who will bury, to the foot of the cedar, the whole short period of flesh of the son circoncis.

She buried a money bracelet to the foot of the cedar, for Chou' ib, the orphan of the soil. They are all his/her children.

Chou' ib fears the fresh paddles and tells, with which wants, the history of a goat which it meets every cold morning. It comes to him while bleating. Initially, it appears very small and present, in the glance, a human gleam. Chou' ib collects it and charges it on its shoulders. It would make the deal at the market… But the goat grows bigger as far as the eye can see; its legs lengthen until touching the ground. Then, Chou' ib discharges some and flees!

During the hot days of August, it meets, in the plain, a ghost who, roulade by roulade, progresses towards him. Chou' ib hides. The ghost is raised then and continues it. The men organized one beaten with the research of the monster. They saw it in the middle of the plain. Chou' ib draws to him above. The white ghost disappears. The men of all the corners of the plain run. It is a wounded clamping plate!

The mother curves herself to allow the child who sleeps to have better pillow and plunges his tired glance in crowd. The sun starts to be done lenient. The market is emptied. She is raised and engaged in crowd. A hand seizes the arm to him… it raises the eyes and meets the face of Daas.

- I seek you, says it.

- We would not have set out again without you. Give me the small one.

It discharges some. It takes it in its arms. The mother encases the step to him. Released from the weight of the kid, it finds the agility of its legs. Daas advances with great strides and often takes distance. It stops then and awaits it. Daas did not pronounce a mot. the child drowses, the hanging head.

They borrow narrow lanes. They cross muddy water puddle pools. They cross children playing hopscotch. They avoid whirring vehicles. They lead to the deposit of the village. One makes slip the small one on the ground. There, it is on the same level as a brood of pups. The mother drives out the dogs with blows of droppings. She passes the fingers on the legs of the dying man.

Death is only one continuation of expressions of the body and the spirit, which necessarily occur following changes of all kinds… changes of an individual or collective nature, marking the life of a being until - beyond tomb. Death being a perpetual restarting, the life multiplies and continues eternally. Men, plants, animals meet, merge, change… Thus the Patriarch speaks.

The mother spits with difficulty the meat, crushed through chewing, in the hollow of her hand. She presents it, over her shoulder, with the hope to see the child passing the language there. She waits in vain… She shakes her arm and puts herself at sangloter. She does not hear any more the moanings of her child. They groan together, shaken by the same suffering: the physical pain and loneliness. She cries as when she was little girl. But the tears do not run any more. The source is dried up, its sobs do not generate more water. Sometimes it sometimes happens to him to realize that it was desiccated with the passing of years and of miseries and that it is nothing any more but one shade than nothing any more reaches.

Even more the prayer of the believers. “It is ridiculous what I do there”, thinks and it changes the position of its body to calm the child. The doctor spoke about a big city, hospital, separation…

It pays expensive, very expensive for the health of small. To leave at the city? To yield it to him with is a facility which she does not recognize, that to like?

- Lord, that once I hesitated before naming you. For the first time I beseech Your help, Your forgiveness. Come, forgives!

I am similar to this old Arak, squatted over there in Hoggar looking of the morning at the evening a horizon which does not exist since any more many years… It had lost the sight, Arak, slowly, as his life is lost. With the age, its forces flee it and the horizon is withdrawn treacherously, silently, while its memory of the motionless things is specified. It knows all, my friend Arak… The things which come. The things which from go away, until deaths. It feels the presence. As these desiccated trees which populate its ground and which survive all the natural disasters. Arak does not know the uprooting. Similar with its ground, it does not need to be started again.

Lord, his country does not know the storm. Hoggar is alleviated since many centuries. More storms, nor of seasons. All is silence. Peace. A world without beginning, nor end. A world where the man knows any more neither from where it comes, nor where it goes, as we told it the Patriarch.

Is this that eternity?

She speaks herself as so already its tribe had left to research a better ground. Here, the ground is arid and nothing pushes for a long time! The wells are empty and the rain does not come. Would God have retained his tears vis-a-vis the tears which run ici-bas?

However the Patriarch speaking about Araki, our mother with all, said that it was in the animal as in the man. I am in you as you are in me, said it…

The mother bites the hand. Isn't this true? , she says low to Arris. The small body softened by the sleep beats lashes. He likes the history of Araki, the mother of all.

- Then why the man eats the animals, Maman?

The mother keep silent herself. This reality torments already the small one which refuses to eat all that is meat and all that is vegetation.

- Me also, I will die, says it. I will become again bird. And you, who will you become?

- A tree.

- Oh, I will build a nest there. I will lay there eggs of all the colors, like the rainbow. It is the belt of festival of Araki. How I like it, this Araki, our mother with all! She is beautiful. She is large like the sky, you know…

The mother listens and the child tells.

- One day, takes again the child, its belly was split and the mountains of ants left there.

- It is all, known as the mother.

- It is all, known as the child.

Ants. In times of food shortage, the mother plundered the seed reserves of the anthills.

- Its belly was split and the mountains of ants left there, repeats the mother.

- Yes, known as the child.

The mother takes the hand to him and they are keep silent.

Chou' ib reappears at the falling night. It takes seat beside Arris. It covers the shoulders of its tepid and soft hand to him.

Hand of bride, say of it the loggers of the soil. He dares to show his hands only in front of the women and the children. Never they laugh at him.

He fixes the mother, then, constrained, he says:

- The drugs are expensive! All the guy cotisé for you, small mother. We are really sorry…

The mother keep silent herself.

- If you want, we will see Aïda. She knows all the plants of the ground. She will be able to cure Arris. I swear it to you.

It takes the small one in its arms and rises. It goes towards the others.

The mother follows it. The others wait at the exit of the village. The mother encases the step to them. They return to the fold. The last rays of the sun tremble at the horizon. The sun splits the ground and disappears in its crimsons haillons.

The men walk quickly. The mother trottine. The ground blackens and takes imperceptibly the color of the night.

The mother approaches Chou' ib. the small one sleeps in the arms of the giant. The strange noise of the insects of night fills up space. With far, between two immense rocks, of fires scintillate. The soil is not further. The reassured men are happy to arrive on their premises. They break silence. Shouts and laughter break the cries and the whispers which assemble ground. The mother, comforted, walk more quickly still. It feels neither stones any more, nor the brambles which meurtrissent the feet to him. The barkings of the dogs reach them and bring to each one a similar joy to that which they knew, formerly, on arrival of the father, evenings of market… The faces of their children and their women, the familiar objects flood their memory.

With the soil, the children do not sleep; the women and the old men wait; each hearth took the aspect of the market days. In each household, the distribution of the reported gifts makes the joy of all!

Chou' ib accompanies small mother at it and divides with it the dates which it exchanged against a goatskin. The mother the place in front of Arris. Smoke escapes from the chimneys and veil the stars. The dogs, happy, divide the remainders of meal of the Masters and do not bark any more.

Then silence and the night are stopped by furtive visits, of household as a household. The women and the men are made offerings.

The mother is torn off soon with the lapse of memory. She receives the visit of all the neighbors, while the men taste the on the place of the wise ones, under the attentive glance of the Patriarch.

The women deposit all of the small things in front of the mother and drink the words reporting its stay at the village.

The city, says to them it, it is the hunger, loneliness. I tightened the hand this morning… The women, revolted, then tenderized, approach even more and, silently, respect its account. Isn't it accustomed to telling with the children the history of Araki, our mother with all, which bequeathed to our fathers the secrecy of the eternal life? Araki says that each one of us is a sum of all. She also says: I am in you as you are in me. Isn't it, the mother of Arris, this share of the mother of all, that each one carries in oneself? Isn't it this grain of life, sown in the memory of the children? Isn't it this tree which pushed in the hearts of these large children?

The city, begins again it, is a curse…

Arris listens to the history, his. He did not see anything of all that and, however, it is well of him that mother speaks.

The left women, it is made a small pulp and, wearied day, it intertwines with softness the body of small and falls asleep…

Tomorrow, she will see more clearly and will ask Daas to accompany it downtown. She will speak to the Patriarch about it. They will make a collection which, added to the price of the jewels, will give him the possibility of hospitalizing its small. It will buy clothes and shoes to him.

The Patriarch spoke; all listened to it: tomorrow, Daas will accompany the mother and the child at the hospital



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Genevieve Briot
(Ouvre intégrale publié dans Trois romans algériennes)

“Let us not be us not with all regards, bodies and heart, foreigners and travellers any unit, free of the orientation of our roads and captive of a circular unceasingly moved back horizon.”.
(Theodore Monod, the emerald of Garamantes)

Algiers on November 6, 1986

Dear Lucie,

You read well. I am in Algiers. It was necessary me to leave. Adrien could be only in Algeria.

Imagine: it would go up the street Didouche Mourad, I would descend it, holds, tomorrow morning at ten hours. Fantastic, not? I know, it is dream. But at least, I do not wait any more, I discover his country.

My Etienne cousin had so often invited me! He lives a district of the center of Algiers with his Joelle wife and his two children. Window, the glance climbing the city, towards the heights, the trees of the Park of Freedom. It is from there that I write to you. Here, the light is everywhere. I like the name of Arabic Algiers: El Djazaïr. It is a word which resembles a smile, you do not find?

Full with small in the streets. The school? There does not have for everyone full-time. Hold, in this moment, the kids of the district play foot with paper balloons against a door of garage. Their cries disturb me as if Adrien child were among them.

Ali, a friend of my cousin proposed to be my guide the evening after his work. Whatever the route, we always finish by us finding in the street Larbi Ben Mehdi. Many people in this mall. I like to walk in this tumult and to each angle lane to see the sea.

However, to go in the street, this so simple thing, here is not innocent. At the beginning, I did not know yet Ali, I found myself only on this walk with fallen the night. In a few minutes, all capsized, animation good child became lascive. Extreme glances, rubbings of hands, words ambiguities. Hundreds of eyes as of the leeches absorbed my body. I would have liked to be one of the buckled women who hastened towards their house, it is you to say.

I spoke yesterday with Zohra, a friend of Ali. She had proposed to me to come to see it at her office. Forsaking the typewriter, she affirmed me that the women had conquered their independence when a department head who passed by there has good year to add: if there is problem, it is fault of the women, they are irresponsible and only think of procreating. And contraception? I distributed. It appeared obstructed as if I had said a coarseness and it disappeared.

I found Zohra a little later, on the first floor of a bar, a kind of living room of the. Even in France, Zohra would have attracted the glances! Imagine a pretty girl with the dye chechmate, out of red dress sharp, with semi-long hair, carefully buckled and black eyes… I do not know how them to describe, expressive, charmers. We drink with mint accompanied by makrouts, semolina puddings with almonds and honey. A treat! In the intimacy of the living room, it changes speech. To go to the theatre, the cinema the evening? Its eyes are opened wide, vast as the night which would absorb it if it were risked there. In the course of the day, with a brother? Impossible because of the “respect”: how to see scenes of love its involved? Zohra hopes to leave to Canada. You see, here also one dreams of the Far North. I spoke to him about you, of Louis, your Inhabitant of Quebec. That you can go and come freely between Europe and America makes it sigh of desire. To a height of eighteen hours, it was lifted. It was to be in her parents at eighteen hours fifteen precise. At twenty-two years, it is impossible for him to transgress this rule.

I found myself in front of the windows, disappointed that it left so quickly. I made storing as said Louis, while dreaming in Adrien. You realize Lucie, that in Aix I watched for it, awaited during more than one month? Silence. Without warning. I very imagined… Moreover, you were not there. But silence, that resembles to him. So jealous of its independence! And if I do not find Adrien Hassan (do have you I says that its Algerian first name, it is Hassan?) the noises, the colors, savours from here me speak about him.

Answer me, I kiss you.


This time, she did not dream her letter. Often the ideas which cross the spirit to him, it wants to divide them. With Lucie especially. She tells them, the letters, full with interest and promptness then the pencil with the hand, she feels the words to be concealed. Those which come under the feather are pâlots, which had appeared funny to him, enthralling, becomes ridiculous.

She could have also said to Lucie whom she had left like a robber. Hadn't she warned her mother only on her arrival in Algiers? This one would have been able to fall sick to prevent it from leaving France.


Béa sat down under the palm trees in the interior court of the Museum of Bardo. Zohra and its Samira friend were delayed in the room of the costumes and the traditional objects.

At this closed place, she thinks of Adrien as of other women formerly had to think of the man absent. Women who gave up themselves with the freshness of the place, occupied burning perfumes, embroidering silk trade and to play of the lute. Magic of the foliages and fabrics, light of blue of earthenware under the arcades of the gallery.

Its sudden departure was essential when she telephoned the buddy in whom Adrien lived. “Not, it is not there any more. It returned the key to me, it had finished its training course. Me, I work of night, one saw myself very little. That made three weeks that it left from here. I think that it went in its family. - In its family? In Algeria? The buddy marked a silence. - Ah! I do not know, perhaps in Algeria.”

Adrien, distance and so present. It feels its glance on it as if it were pilot of all its actions. What it finds of him when it seeks its image, they are impressions, a heat mingled with a brittleness, promptness in a nonchalance. It tries to find its image: its black eyes a little mockers, his face which she liked to release by slipping her fingers into her buckled hair, his mouth whose its lips kept the memory. But it does not manage to put the fragments together. When it finds an expression, the details are vague. It does not even have a photograph!

However its face should be engraved in me, to double my own face. The first time that I saw it…

How it is strange not to know that the way on which one walks since years will become without exit! A well traced common life, marked out well by Marc, my companion. Why also it had given up this excursion at the last time?

The first time that I saw Adrien, I became so light! I looked at it and that was enough for me.

In the train, somebody made circulate a vodka bottle. Adrien passed it to me after having drunk. The girls spoke about the demonstration of nurses of the day before. I did not think of nothing. I had right this taste and this heat of alcohol in the mouth. In front of the station, as I leaned my face under the rain, Adrien embraced me. I had a retreat in front of his audacity but it was too late. The others were agitated around the bags, so far. I was in an odd state: I was not any more me or… one me which I did not know. I entered another I.

The legends are liked when one is small and when one believes oneself adult, one is caught for Yseult, victim of an insane passion. I left Marc to burn myself with a will-o'-the-wisp. Marc does not accept, it says that it sees me everywhere, that my image obsesses it. Its image of me, it is not me. I am not an image but a movement, only one movement.

Victim, really? My fear of living sudden flew away on this place of the small station of countryside. To be born finally. To be born from a man. Still a myth, that of Eve born of Adam, Athéna born of Zeus, unaltered. Aggravating, laughable, unbearable!

Zohra and Samira join it. Zohra, elegant in a clear tailor and a red shirt maker. Always a note of red in the behaviours of Zohra. More sporting, Samira is as a Jean and wind-breaker.

Sat at the edge of the basin, shaded about palm trees, they speak about them, say their waitings. They listen to the lapping of water that Zohra agitates its varnished fingers. The reflections of sky and foliage collect per moments their glances.

Safe from the agitation of the city, one would say that they take forces before their ways diverge. Zohra with its dreams of Far North, Samira in the line of his/her mother moudjahida with her projects of journalism, its hope of Algeria thrives. Because all will change, you will see! Béa listening, attentive with their determination. Isn't it futile, it which travels in the search of a volitilized lover?

The noise of the words, the sighs, the light laughter, the eyes which are sought make of this moment of confidence an invaluable thing for each one of them.

The arrival of a group of tourists in the court brings back them in the room of Prehistory. Béa was immobilized in front of the reproductions of frescos of Tassili and Hoggar.

On the wall, a long white woman, with the dress and the unfinished bodies, seems suspended in the airs, a woman with centres stretched like fingers. She floats in her veils which do not have end above brown drafts of antelopes. Is this still with the ground that these transparencies belong? Who is this goddess? This fresco projects it in a distance which it could not name last, rather inaccessible reality.

- A so light woman, Samira murmur behind her.

- I want to go to see the frescos, known as Béa.

- Frescos? The desert should be crossed!

- The desert should be crossed, repeats Béa with semi-voice.


Béa goes in the sun on the boulevard of the sea front. One is in November and the summer gives the impression not to finish. It rests on the parapet.

In lower part, a train passes on the railway. The cranes of the port launch their arm towards the sky. A siren mugit and its cry mix with the voice with the muezzin. Draped in their haïks, the women pass very close to it. The kohl draws the open large eyes in the middle of the fabric. The women are walls without doors, of the obsessing walls. The sea stretches its gray greens behind the headlight under the flight of the gulls.

It is foreign, a little sand which absorbs a quivering water. Words go up to its lips while around it the rolled and rough sounds of the Arab language resound. She stumbles in the memories as in a veil.

One day, Adrien evoked his/her parents, come in Arles with the caïd whose fidelity in France was without conditions. It was into 62. It had bought a field. His/her father had continued to work on his grounds, this time on other side of the Mediterranean. After the plain of Mitidja, that of Crau.

I do not know, Adrien, if you are to trust or not of this choice. You often said: there has nothing to include/understand and your chin hardened. Of your adolescence at the bottom, I do not know anything. Just that you lived St Martin, that you have three brothers and two sisters. You spoke more readily according to, about your voyages, your work of cook in Finland. You do not want limit to nothing. What do you want? To play change-possible, to combine the absolute? Hardly you unearthed a job of draughtsman in an architect whom you undertook of the studies of teacher: Y has things more important than to make huts.

Once, you spoke about the village of your paternal grandparents, close to Tizi Ouzou. Because of the gleam in your eyes, I would like to go in this village. I know that there is nothing any more but your grandmother over there.

They is curious, I find you here with the impression to lose you a little more. To like, is to engage in a part without knowing the rules? Each new landscape throws me your absence with the figure. The light sets ablaze the port and hurts me with the eyes. A truck thunders, makes vibrate the ground which could open under my feet. Algiers is unaware of me and takes to me at the same time. Which woman involved you, you which say being unable to choose? Us inventions our history progressively. We were never given go, sure to find us without us to seek. I passed in front of the terrace of the Café de France, you were there. I bought fruits on the market, you found me there. It is not true. We sought ourselves unceasingly and this concern exaltait our desire. The last time, after this coffee taken on the terrace, you said to me: So long! and I did not re-examine you. It is with you that I speak, Adrien, Adrien Hassan, but you me listenings not. I do not exist any more. The last time, it was on September 12.

- Béa!

It is turned over. Ali, in front of it, is accompanied by a friend. As much Ali takes a left form, the head a little sunken in the shoulders, as much the other carries ease and cheerfulness.

- I present Brahim to you.

They go up towards the city. It goes between the two boys and an attentive ear lends to them. They frayent a passage in the crowd which descends the street and they have sorrow to remain of face. Sometimes, one of his/her companions is hustled and pushed behind. It wants to take them by the arm so that they are interdependent but here, it does not dare such a gesture and asks only how one says “together” in Arabic.

- You include/understand, we want to speak our language, the kabyle… then, Arabic! We speak initially kabyle, then French, Arabic when we cannot make differently.

- If they could it, known as Ali, they would remove French.

- To speak is three languages, it how to say to you? begins again Brahim, it is to have more space.

Ali throws sidelong looks unceasingly.

- It is necessary to be wary of the civil police. It is still while going that one is quietest.

In the tumult of crowd, he speaks about six Kabyles imprisoned since July, at the time of the commemoration of Independence.

- I will show you a written letter by the families with the President, I have a copy at home, in my village. I will make you also listen to songs. The singer belongs to the prisoners.

- He sings in kabyle, specifies Brahim. He translated a French song: Mr. President.

- The song of Boris Vian?

- Yes, Boris Vian.

At the entry of the street Larbi Ben Mehdi, a blind musician plays of the lute. Groups of young people listen to it or chatter.

- Await me, known as Ali, I have somebody to see.

While it approaches a friend close to a flower vat, Brahim considers Béa which became the point of test card. Pinned here, insect placed in observation: Does it beat many lashes? Does it change color under the pivot of the glances? Is it agitated under the hands which imagine its body or enters it in catalepsy?

- You find me tempting? ask Brahim.

It puts him at it too. Does it have to flee? It tries to be off-hand and emits a constrained laughter. As he repeats his question, it raises the shoulders.

- What wants to say tempting? One can be tempting for a person and not for another.

- One day, I meet in Paris a woman of ripe age, connects at once Brahim, it smokes under the rain. I approach it and I say to him: Forgiveness Madam, how do you make to smoke under the rain? She laughs and says to me: You, I like you. It invites me to drink glass then we go to his hotel.

Béa launches impatient glances towards Ali who is delayed.

- She does not want to make love and falls asleep, a little drunk on the carpet. I transfer it onto the bed…

- It is late, I…

- I can allure you?

It looks at its face with the dye chechmate, its black eyes with the bent lashes which have something of childish, of capricious too. It opens the mouth to speak and does not say anything.

- Is Your heart taken?

- Yes yes.

- Me too.

- It is well, concludes it in a sigh.

Lastly, Ali joined them.

Rue Didouche Mourad, they enter an invaded coffee of noise and smoke. With the counter, soldiers are accoudés. Ali involves his companions towards the bottom on a half-stage in mezzanine. Only one possible table, just above the soldiers. Those, openly, turn back on the bar to observe them. Béa applies: to tolerate the glances without accomodating them; to see as behind a pane, a pane between it and the men; to remain impermeable, to draw aside by a capacity of the body, an obstinate will, the oppressive masculinity, to impose its female existence, of not démordre and to leave the men to the fringe. Samira said: to leave in the street, it is already to militate.

- You allure them, says Brahim which does not have definitely that this word with the mouth.

- Let us speak low, known as Ali.

- It is strange, known as Brahim, I have the impression to have already lived this scene, us three with this table.

Is this because it takes them for old buddies whom it unpacks his private life? Béa listens, disorientated; he speaks about his village in Kabylie. Over there, it allured two sisters, one at seventeen years, the other to fourteen. Between the house of these girls and that of his parents, there is a river, dry during the winter. One day, the elder one made him a sign: it passed the hand in its hair. With the fingers indicated to him one hour and the fig tree indicated to him. It went to go and flirté with the elder one in the presence of the junior. The following year, it is the junior who made him sign. It was a few years ago, it does not see them more; now, the elder one is married, and then, they could speak only about fields and from sheep, they had never gone to school.

While the stories of love of Brahim ravel, that of the Italian in Paris which finally was Algerian, that of Austrian with the airport, they drink with small mouthfuls the with mint. Ali, the closed face, nervously turns his glass between his fingers.

-, Brahim stops Stops, lets breathe to us! You is a large seducer, it is heard.

Without wanting it, it addressed as tu it. Lastly, Ali takes again the word, it has so much things on the heart! To delay the marriage more possible for a long time as well as the religious practice of Islam. It has, alas, already about thirty. Its thirst for living cannot be sealed in a strict family life. An insane hope of another thing holds it on standby. Brahim approves.

- And do the girls, how make?

They recognize that for them, it is even more difficult. Brahim is used sometimes as hood with his/her sisters and lets them meet who they want.

- Here, appearances always should be saved. It is the only way of being free.

The soldiers left, Ali leans towards the center of the table and speaks about a demonstration which took place against the government, here in Algiers, Place Martyrs; that occurred a few days before, there was of it also in other cities.

- I in a newspaper, Béa, but is this said read well the same thing? that hooligans had disturbed the law and order in Algiers, in Tizi Ouzou also, I believe.

- Here, it is that! Here, true information circulates only under the djellaba, laughs Ali.

Thus one can go and to come each day in the middle of the capital and to realize nothing, one can read the newspapers and see only various facts where the revolt thunders.

Brahim starts to tell funny stories which fustigate the incompetence and the opposition to progress of controlling. Ali hardly smiles, desperate of surrounding resignation. He thinks that if the women had to be able more, Algeria would leave itself there much better.

- We accompany back you at Etienne. Me, I have drank to take then. At tomorrow, in any event! It is the weekend. Did Etienne say to you that I take you along in my village?

It makes him say the name of its village, in the hope to recognize sonorities which it would have heard of the mouth of Adrien.

- I hope to re-examine you Béa, known as Brahim. I would like to leave with you in Kabylie. My village is not very far from that of Ali, a little higher in the mountain.

It disfigures it while its heart beats more quickly. Perhaps Adrien would say these words if it were there. Yes, he would say “the village of my grandmother, a little higher in the mountain”. Brahim smiles under its glance, so attentive.



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Hawa Djabali

Boléro pour un pays meurtri

(Ouvre intégrale publié dans Trois romans algériennes)


Chemin vermillon de terre argileuse. Piétinement des siècles.

Quand il pleut, qu'une charrette, un tracteur le défoncent (tu coules tes bielles, passe-moi des pierres pour caler), ça gicle comme du sang, c'est glaiseux, c'est gluant; ça retient avec un mauvais bruit les godasses, plastiques, caoutchoucs vernis, qui font encore plus mal que la corne ancestrale.

L'été, ce chemin, il craque, il se fissure, il râpe les gens.

Indiqué sur la carte de l'enfer, chemin qu'il faut remonter avec ses dix ou vingt litres d'eau sur la tête, la lessive mouillée, le fagot de bois, l'argile, les olives, les pommes de terre, la vie entière!

Depuis combien d'automnes brûlés ou de printemps glissants le monde vit-il accroché au dos des femmes qui remontent le chemin rouge?

Il me souvient leur sueur, par le chaud, par le froid, qui noyait en silence leurs yeux impassibles, et qui sentait la sève, et qui gouttait à terre. Je revois leurs pieds têtus.

Trop peur de l'enfer. Impossible de faire autrement. Il faut porter, monter; monter pour vivre, porter, monter à mourir. Pressentiment tenace d'un paradis : osent-elles y croire?

Pourquoi disent-elles que ce chemin-là c'est la vie?