The cultural club’s party ended after the speech held in honor of the retired teachers of the city of Berkane. He had been awarded a certificate in recognition of all the work he had carried out during a lifelong career dedicated to education. To his dismay, they had misspelled his name and mistaken his faith. He got into the car and drove off to Taforalt, a place that he hadn’t been able to get out of his mind for quite some time, despite having had his life buzzing with activity lately. With every curve and slope of the road, he felt grateful for being able to snatch a few moments of rest while enjoying the glorious scenery provided by the Beni-Snassen Mountains. He parked the car just a few meters away from his grandfather’s grave and approached it with great respect and solemnity. He began delivering his sermon right away:
“Peace be upon you who now walk the earth of the great beyond. You have shown us the way and we, as your descendants, are honored to follow your lead. May God bless us all and forgive our sins.”
He then sank to his knees next to the grave. He recited a few “of the most intelligible” verses of the Holy Quran and raised the palms of his hands to offer his prayer.
In the afternoon, he sat down at his desk, grabbed a pen and a piece of paper, cut his imagination free from the shackles that were holding it captive, and wrote:
“Your devotion to the nation was praiseworthy. Your heart was pure, true to the Lord and His path. Your carols touched everyone you came across during your journey of life with their candor. Despite having to combat grinding poverty and all the bloodsucking creatures that lurked in the darkness, you left your stamp on both the individual and the collective memory, which is bequeathed from one generation to the next. Now you lie buried in the ground although you said nobody would ever be able to bend you, praying day and night for your seed to continue spreading your message while it grows strong and healthy.
“Sleep tight, you caring soul, while your stories about the nationalist movement keep reverberating in my ears. All those anecdotes about the secret meetings you held at night in the mountains, keeping your eyes peeled for the French occupiers, the sheikh, the lieutenant, and the major, along with the names of the rifles you carried at the time to fight against the French, have lodged in my mind thanks to the ardent passion that suffused your narrations. The moukhalas bouhaba, boshfer . . . which were all of French or English manufacture.
“Your testimony about the two angels and the battle on the plain of Angad still lingers in my mind. So does the story you told me about the mountain villagers who were flogged the day the French found out about the secret assemblies you were holding in the Taforalt mountains. In silence your grave bears witness to your commitment to the cause and to your allegiance to the Alawite Dynasty. The ground seems to have swallowed all of your history: your father’s exile, the revolution of Tafilalet, the Darqawiyya order you joined and whose principles you fully adhered to—such as the one that was laid down in a fatwa placing a ban on drinking coffee and lashing people with branches of garland thorn.
“For all you have experienced through from the day you were born until you were called by the Lord to join Him in Paradise, may you be blessed. Rest in peace now that you lie buried in the ground of the same mountains where you spent your entire life crusading against injustice and poor living conditions as a devoted Sufi. Moreover, rest assured that although you had to live in times of trouble, you will be remembered for centuries until the day of reckoning arrives.”
Rejoice in your homes, for you reap what you sow and your dreams will come true as long as you keep fighting for them. God is at the beginning and at the end. May God’s peace, mercy, and blessings be upon you.
The Author, Abdelhamid Hadouch:
Moroccan, from the city of Berkane, retired school director. He was born in 1952. He has translated the book entitled Bali-Bali, an African story, originally published in 1924, from French. The online-based literary magazine Anhaar has published his essay “Examining the Interlude Ushered in by al-Hariri’s Maqamat”. Additionally, he has published an interpretation of Ibn Sallam al-Jumahi‘s Lessons on How to Succeed in Writing Poetry with the printing house al-Maqabis an-Naqdiya (the Scale of Literary Criticism).