The White Lady

 “The bay is there, majestic, bathed in a dazzling light. The white City clings to the mountain slope that seems to float on a vast carpet of blue marble….

Akram Belkaid – Return to Algeria


 

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Algiers. Photo by Karen Rose.

Trembling, I stood there at the top of the plane stairs, shading my eyes and squinting in the bright sunshine. When the aircraft door had been opened a few moments before, the warm air had hit me like a blast from a hairdryer, blowing dust into my eyes and whipping my long hair into tangles across my face. My mouth felt dry and my stomach tight with apprehension as I followed the other passengers across the tarmac to the airport building. Continue reading

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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