I reckon The Berber Pantheon have been close to me during my stay here, for I have felt their presence in a way I have not felt any other force. Perhaps because I am in their territory, or perhaps because I am a down-and-out lad in their territory who is, thus, able to transcend the circumference of idealism, as being opposed to reality. This, of course, is not the first time I come here, and yet this time is of prevailing significance, for I am more into masquerading as a witness. This time, I am more a stranger than I am a familiar face.
I do not think there is anything to consider in the city-center, all city-centers are alike, and all of them are grotesque — a horrible repsentation of our current situation, and by our I mean humans. Thus, I have devoted the little amount of consciousness I have been left with to observing the hopeless parts of the city, those within which the vast majority finds delight in contemplating the departed days of ancestral resistence and blind loyalism.
One may not find it odd that in these outskirts there are two categories: the literate, and the illiterate. Yet, one will certainly find it peculiar that all the illiterate wake up between 7 and 7:30 O’clock. Indeed, it is through these illiterates that I felt the presence of the gods, and it is with them that I shall concern myself the most. It is enough to look at the faces of this category, and to blabber with one of them for a minute to understand that life has no ultimate meaning in itself. I shall not say that they are ignorant, but they surely are a living proof of what will happen if , for instance, you bring up a child in an isolated area where even rationality cannot be defined. Chelha is the language they master, and religion is what keeps them alive. It surely is nerve-racking when you understand that they forwent Atlas, Ammon, and Other Berber gods, in favour of a God brought by the imperial machine, and which relegated their culture to being of less importance than the Arab one. They do not know these things of course, and I shan’t tell them.
For the young, there are specific stages through which they must go: innocence, rebellion, misery, and — of course, and not only for the young — death. The first stage becomes concealed as soon as the child starts to walk and utter certain words, whereas the second stage, which is the longest, comes and sweeps everything the lad’s parents may have wished to see in their child. By the age of fifteen, all of these lads grow robust and start smoking, drinking alcohol, and fighting others to assert themselves. Whereas most lasses at the age of fifteen remain behind curtains, for patriarchy is at its finest in here. These youngsters are indeed rebellious, they rebel against everything but their mothers and their God, and it is the latter that I find absurd to respect in said vicissitudes. I need to mention that a stage is missing, which is losing innocence. I do not think these people lose innocence at all from the cradle to the grave. I have noticed that even those whose lives have been wasted in jails are still more innocent than I am, and I think that their respect for their mothers and their God, derives its meaning from this innocence. They cannot question whether God is really qualified to be a God, or whether they should consider him, as they did with their fathers, another thing to rebel against. I have for a long time considered innocence as being opposed to knowledge. In this respect, my fellow brothers in here cannot question the nature of the knowledge they have, and thus they cannot know if they have any knowledge at all. The stage of misery is that at which the lad grows to become a man, and thus wants to get married and have children. I shan’t say that this is always the case, but I have named it Misery and beared in mind the husband, the wife, and and the children they may have. Whereas in the case of single men, only themselves.
Many a familiar face is now burried under the defiled soil, and many a shroud I did not dare touch had a dear one inside. Yet, it is not dying that disturb these people, to whom I belong inspite of my playing the role of a stranger. Whenever a dear one dies in these hopeless pit, part of the entity wears off. One may never have seen the departed, and yet his being part of the neighbourhood begets melancholic rays strong enough to weaken the strongest member among us. Death is always present in here, and is in continuous manifestation. But irrespective of the misery, none of us really wants to die, for death begets jealousy of life. In other words, if one dies, the other will have time to experience many a thing which the departed will not have the chance to experience, this is our philosophy. I do not believe in the afterlife, but they do, and many of them think that whatever it is they will find in heaven, it does not mean anything compared to the good hash they smoke by night in those cells called “Bertouch”. For me, I can say that I do not think there is something after death, and I do not believe I will be revived, but for now, as conscious as I am, I shall envy the living if I die, though my life is miserable.
Working by day and fornicating with other miserable women, or drinking alcohol by night is how life works here. Though careless enough not to pay attention to whether life has a meaning or not, their lives are carefully composed of ephemeral meanings which can be summed up in sex, alcohol, music, and sometimes prayers. These are my generation and the older one, whereas the one older than both consists of the old illiterate men and women of whom I have spoken at the beginning, those whose hands and faces are full of meaningful, traditionally-made tattoos. Now, one may ask why I have written all of this. Well, I think I have written it to show my own self the reality of my people, through my own eyes, but while observing them without being part for at least some time. I dream of understanding why I love them, and why I love the city. But I think that is a question to which there is no answer currently.
I, now, fancy myself spitting at this city, cursing it, and smiling, but all I get in return is a smile, as that of Mona Lisa, or as that one makes when one is having sex with an old love. O Khemisset, I shall never understand this relationship.