Couscous With Butter And Sugar

Sometimes we survive by forgetting.


“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


No Entry

We dream, we wake on a cold hillside, we pursue the dream again. In the beginning was the dream, and the work of disenchantment never ends.
― Kim Stanley Robinson

I suddenly heard the clang of the double gates being thrown open and the tyres of a car screeching down the slight incline to the garage. The only person it could be was T, but it seemed highly unlikely at that time in the morning. He had left for the refinery only a few hours before, as he always liked to be at his desk before the work buses arrived, to set a good example — unlike other managers, who had a tendency to begin the working day nearer lunchtime. Continue reading

A Wicker Armchair In A Jumbo Jet

Dictionary definition of unsuitable: not fitting or inappropriate; out of place, out of keeping, out of character.

“Non, je suis désolé. On n’a pas la pièce qu’il faut. On n’importe plus de pièces détachées.” (No, I’m sorry. We don’t have the part. They’re not importing spare parts anymore.)

I looked at the Sonatrach repair man in despair. It was the early seventies and we had been living in the Clos des Poivriers (Pepper Tree Close) since just before the birth of our son a year or so previously. The Clos, a gated compound containing a dozen white-painted villas, was to be found right on the cliff edge overlooking the Mediterranean, midway between the sleepy rural villages of Bethioua and Ain el Bia, and with nothing between it and the golden stretches of sandy beach but a few terraced vineyards and a meandering, dusty country road. Continue reading