I haven’t heard from you for a whole month. I fear you might never come back to me again. Your phone is off, and you are not answering my messages. Even though it is still way too early and I risk waking my mother up, I call her on the phone to ask whether she has information on your whereabouts. She accuses me of being a crazy fool and beseeches me to come to my senses and return to her. As I open my notebook in hopes of finding a trace of you, the smell of your perfume hits me. I inhale deeply and try to hold on to it for as long as I can, for it may very well be the only thing you have left behind. Not knowing what has happened to you is driving me nuts. In order to see your face again, I open the photo album and look through the pictures I once took of you. It’s a shame that I have to resign myself to an unresponsive image of you.
In my desperation to find you, I have decided to travel back to our native city. How could God have forsaken us! I want to stop the world’s rotation and get off this ride, because I have a feeling that you might have gone to seek refuge on another planet in order to avoid dealing with us self-centered earthlings. I know you are trying to reach out to me, but I can barely hear you because of all the noise around me. I wish I could tell by the tone of your voice whether you are crying out for help or gagging in your eagerness to provide it; whether you’re still among us or whether you have already crossed the great divide; whether you are still wading through the miseries of the nightmarish lives we all so desperately cling to—quite idiotically so, if we’re being honest—or whether you are, God forbid, in a better place.
But I don’t want to be all doom and gloom. Who knows? You may be back on your feet, perhaps even starring in the Hollywood flick that has been made based on your own life, which may be a truly epic rags-to-riches story. How am I to know for certain? Your voice arrives so garbled that I can barely discern it, let alone make out the words it carries.
What on earth has prompted you to vanish from the face of the earth? I beat myself up for not having seen it coming and for not having been able to give you a sound enough reason to choose to stay with me. In order to find you, I know that I first need to put myself in your shoes so that I can recover the train of thought that drove you to disappear. But I’m having a hard time clearing my mind long enough to think straight. I feel that my need to be constantly aware of myself has left me crippled, unable to see anyone but myself. Yet I am really breaking a sweat trying to loosen the skin tight armor I wear to shield myself from the outside world.
This morning the weather is lousy once again. The sunlight is murky and a stiff breeze has come up. Considering that I am not myself on such days, it’s no wonder that I feel I am slowly losing it. I should have seen the signs back then. The grayness around me numbs my senses. I’m trying to no avail to staunch the bleeding that stems from the exceedingly fast movement of time. What good are all the theories that humankind has developed over the ages in order to allow people to live better lives if they have shaped a society that ultimately does not give a crap about the individual who suffers?
Your disappearance has seriously brought me down. The dark and lone night that stretches before me seems like it’s never going to end. I want to burn in hell whenever something reminds me of your caustic sense of humor. How is it possible to be so consumed with guilt that one feels like a cockroach whose insides are being roasted and cut into pieces when one’s actually being left in peace? I am still in shock, and my head keeps spinning. There are no words to describe how badly I am hurting.
The waters at Tipaza’s harbor are strangely calm. I have climbed into a boat and am now surveying my surroundings. They have lost their charm to me. Even the sun seems jaded with its shining. The weather is awfully sultry. It feels like the lull before the storm. Suddenly, while I’m going through the same routine I follow every morning, I hear a familiar masculine voice calling me. I had been so caught up in feeling miserable that I had forgotten about the rest of the world.
“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You need to loosen up. Otherwise, you’ll never start to feel better.”
I sit down, and as my friend continues to comfort me, the bitter truth begins to dawn on me. I am never going to see you again. I can smell it in the air, and the morning breeze never lies.
Written by Abdeldjabar Deboucha.