The Good Life

The poetry of the earth is never dead.
― John Keats


My mother-in-law threw a worried look at her husband and ventured timidly, “Don’t you think it would be better if we stayed here in Maison Carrée, instead of moving house and starting all over again?”

T’s father brushed her arguments aside impatiently, convinced that the country air, away from the unrelenting heat and traffic fumes of Algiers, would do him good. Recently diagnosed with diabetes, his natural energy and drive had been sapped by the illness, the transformation cruel to watch for those who depended on him. Continue reading

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The Broken Pitcher

The death of a mother is the first sorrow wept without her.

– Anon


Acu? Amek ? Acu? Tamɣart-iw?” (What? How? What? My mother-in-law?)

My father-in-law was shouting down the telephone, holding the receiver in one trembling hand, and repeating every word the caller was saying as if he couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing. “Shot in the head, you say? Dead? Allah yarhamha.” (God have mercy on her soul.) Continue reading

Sand Through A Sieve

Men are restless, adventurous. Women are conservative – despite what current ideology says.

-Doris Lessing


“A3yigh thi xedmah agi.” (I’m sick of this work).

Thus spoke my father-in-law, turning to his wife with a shrug, his brows forming one straight line above his piercing dark eyes. His face was stern, even a little melancholy, in repose. It was a long-boned face, tapering to a rounded chin, with a prominent Kabyle nose, under which grew a neat black moustache à la Hitler. Beneath a high forehead, his deep-set eyes were half hidden by drooping eyelids, and his gaze was steady and slightly ironic. Continue reading

Contrasts

Don’t compare your life to others; you have no idea what they have been though.

– Sam Cawthorne


You may be surprised to learn that my husband enjoyed a far better standard of living than I did as a child. Although he lived in a country colonised by the French, one where Algerians were considered as second-class citizens, his life, in many ways, was far more privileged than mine. Continue reading

The Ant and the Grasshopper

Au milieu de l’hiver, j’apprenais enfin qu’il y avait en moi un été invincible.

In the midst of winter, I finally learnt that I carried within me an invincible summer.
― Albert Camus, Noces / L’été


Aya, a thametouth, arfed imanime! (Come on, woman, start packing!)” my father-in-law had shouted at the top of his voice after finally arriving back in the village like a whirlwind after nearly one year’s absence, surprising his young wife who, during the previous months, had resigned herself to being under the orders of her family-in-law. Continue reading