Burial Plot

I strained to look through the airport window at the passengers disembarking from the flight from London, searching for my husband amongst the sea of anonymous faces. The last of the passengers trailed through the sliding doors and there was still no sign of T. In desperation, I went to the information desk and was told that all passengers from the London flight had now disembarked. After phoning my mother in tears to tell her the news, I took the next train back to Blackpool in a fog of worry. Continue reading

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Portus Magnus

I breathed the air of history all unaware, and walked oblivious through its littered layers.

-Annie Dillard


Our house, the Villa Robineau, had been built by a pied noir family in the early twentieth century on a cliff separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land.  It was the most imposing house in the small village of Bethioua, and had been built in the Anglo-Norman style, with a gabled slate roof and long, lugubrious windows. Continue reading

DaOuali

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.

-Virginia Woolf


On my return to Algeria, after five lonely months spent in Britain, we celebrated our reunion by dining out that same evening at one of Oran’s many restaurants. I was in a state of euphoric relief, almost dizzy with it. Although only a few hours had passed since I had set foot back in Algeria, I felt as though a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Continue reading

A New Heaven

No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed to an uncharted land, or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.

-Helen Keller


I leant against the door of our flat on the eighth floor of the Cité Jeanne d’Arc and listened to my husband’s footsteps clattering down the flight of polished granite stairs to the lift on the landing below. The tiny, two-person lift, when it was working, only stopped on floors with odd numbers. It was still dark and the air was still chilly with night, but, on peering earlier through the bedroom window, I had seen a pinkish-yellow glow to the east. Continue reading

Couscous With Butter And Sugar

Sometimes we survive by forgetting.

-Anon


“Where on earth is he?” I muttered to myself, pacing up and down the house, from the bedroom — where our new-born son was sleeping peacefully in his cot — to the living-room and back again, as if I wanted to wear a path along the tiled corridor. Continue reading