The Devil Wore Black

I think bullying in general is for cowards.

-Eddie Alvarez


A ya ar dhagui! A ya ar dhagui!”  (Come outside! Come outside!)

That summer morning of 1953 was picture-postcard perfect —the sky an unbroken backdrop of forget-me-not blue, with just a few stray clouds, like wispy curls of hair, floating lazily across it. Promising more heat to come as the day progressed, the sun was already a smouldering ball of yellow in the sky, its rays painting the surrounding mountain peaks and valleys in vivid colours, like a new painting on which the oil paint was still wet. Continue reading

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Pegasus

The strength of the donkey mind lies in adopting a course inversely as the arguments urged, which, well considered, requires as great a mental force as the direct sequence.

George Eliot


Drawing together his brows in annoyance at being disturbed over such a trivial matter, T’s father shrugged his shoulders. “Don’t bother me with that,” he told his son brusquely. “Go to Michelet yourself and don’t come back without your exemption.” Continue reading

My Brother’s Keeper

Who needs superheroes when you have a brother?

-Anon


T opened his eyes to a cold blue dawn and leaped out of bed, flinging his window open, before hastily slamming it shut again to stop the freezing air rushing in. In his unheated loft space, he could see his breath hanging in the air and feel the roughly-hewn floorboards cold against the soles of his bare feet. The house seemed no warmer inside than out and, during the night, frost had crept across the glass pane of the window as if spun by wintry spiders. Listening to the wind rattling the tiles on the roof just above his head and the snow beginning to tap against the window, he shivered. Continue reading

Scarface

Scars are not signs of weakness, they are signs of survival and endurance.
― Rodney A. Winters


Andela a mmi?” (Where’s my son?) my father-in-law shouted as he strode through the door of his family home in Kabylie.  Married for just three years, T was his first-born son and, as such, doubly precious. Not only was he the first child, but he was a boy, the heir and, as such, the repository of all the family’s hopes. Continue reading

Homecoming

Home is where you can always return, no matter how long you’ve been gone.

-Anon


Returning to their village after their bankruptcy in Fouka, T’s parents felt as though they were retreating into their shells. For them, the house that they’d built during the years of plenty was a sanctuary, a cocoon, a place where they could rest —where they could heal. This was their ancestral land. Nobody could tell them to leave. Continue reading

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