Bowing before the Prophet Khaled

Sidi Khaled Argelia

I stepped across the threshold of his humble abode and greeted him. I chanced upon the butler, who was carrying a bowl of dates and a glass of milk on a tray.

“Welcome to the sanctuary of the prophet Khaled.

“Prophet?”

“Yes, don’t you know? He is the Arabic prophet who was given the cold shoulder by the people he was committed to guide.” He didn’t care to provide me with context so that I could cushion the brick he had just dropped on me. Instead, he left me to my own devices and went to minister to the rest of the guests.

I had been on my way to the Algerian city of Biskra to buy the dates my wife had asked for—or rather, entreated me to fetch her. She had declared that she had been craving them for quite a while already and reminded me of the perils of leaving pregnancy whims unanswered. “Before you know it, the child is born with a ...Read more

Appointment with Heaven

Skikda, Algeria

Everything happened posthaste. He had been standing less than half a meter away from the catastrophe. The city was still looking for survivors. Hospitals were swamped with the injured and would probably need to start rejecting new patients soon. The building residents had just held the so-called inauguration ceremony that took place every time a new cemetery was opened to the public in any city in the Arab World. Every man to his taste, but he held the series of performances to be rather macabre, as if intended to show how belly dancers can teach the bereaved to shake off their grieve. Meanwhile, the only mosque in the neighborhood, sited across the road and hemmed in by little stores of all shapes and colors, had shown a stoic endurance.

Mourad Didouche Street, which is doomed to be remembered by the name les R4—the one the French usurpers gave it—wakes up to life at dawn with the sound of the adhan. With deliberate indolence, ...Read more

A Female Shadow

Countryside landscape in Terrai Bainen, village in Algeria

Winter invites the world to retreat under its blanket and pours its cold over the hilly countryside. The soil of the earth gives off the sweet perfume of its people’s hard work. In the valley, the humble adobe houses struggle to keep their secrets inside. Chaos breaks out when the only thing people can rely on day after day to appease a growling stomach is a loaf of plain bread. Nearby, the river twists and turns with swagger, aware of its vital role of connecting both shores, fantasy and reality, with its slippery substance. In its delta sprouts the naiveté of those who bother dreaming. An old veranda casts its red shadow over the meandering desires of the flesh. Finally, the dreamer wakes up only to find himself at the doorstep of a scandal.

He had returned from his stay abroad with another woman reshaping his shadow; he had clearly been blinded by the deceitful glow of civilization. Thus, he destroyed the warm ...Read more

Blida, My City: The Gateway to My Homeland

Blida, Argelian city of Andalusian origin

Waseem was not going to have it easy finding the cradle of his story by getting to where his grandparents had been born. Overall, he possessed rather little knowledge about the place. However, the moment he met Sameer, he felt a lot more optimistic about his expedition. Waseem was about twenty years old while Sameer was already in his thirties.

In the old days, the city of Blida had been notorious for its abundance of roses. Therefore, all Sameer had to do was advise Waseem to ask perfumers about the origin of their best roses. His journey started in the streets of Paris. He devoted himself to inquiring about the origin of those roses and flowers from which the best perfumes were extracted until he knocked on the door of a perfumer who offered him a deal: if Waseem would work for the perfumer nonstop over the course of a whole month, then at the end of the month, the perfumer would, in return, take Waseem to the city ...Read more

The Drowned Breaths

Algerian rural area, between the villages of Mila, Ain Tinn and Sidi Khelifa

She stood still and stared at his rifle, which hang on the wall of memories. It woke up her past, which opened its doors for her. As soon as she crossed the threshold, she sailed forth behind a flock of pigeons. The clouds drifted hastily across the sky. Then she heard a shot being fired nearby and tripped. It had whistled past with the rumble of her inner gulfs and she shook. She knew for certain that the hunter’s bullet never missed its target; she was positive it had actually hit her instead of the pigeon that was now drowning in its own blood. Suddenly, she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned around but found no one. She took a deep breath and sighed through the chimney of her heart. It had been his ghost, willing to spare her the pain of remembering. She stood up and uprooted the fence surrounding the cave’s entrance. It kept on playing ...Read more

Choose your own adventure

It’s funny how God

a) might be so generous as to reveal himself to all humankind in different forms yet simultaneously so mischievous as to soft-soap all of humanity into believing that the practices that are specific to each individual human society, which we have gained from our distinct cultural backgrounds, are the only adequate ones to help humanity acquire a proper understanding of Him.

b) makes us fall in love with one another when our minds start poking around the tenets of religion that contradict reality and threaten to expose Him.