I stood tip-toe upon a little hill
The air was cooling, and so very still
If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born, and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.
— J. D. Salinger
But wait, unless you don’t want to know further more and nor continue reading,
“All this happened, more or less
_Kurt Vonnegut, The Slautherhouse-five
So I confess. I am sixty-two now, and having nothing published yet_apart from, a few blogs that I posted now and then. You see, I’m not enough talented as of those great writers cited above, I quoted, I am not sure where to start my story, neither pretend to claim here that I have the tenth of their art. That is, out there, many writers would kill for a sentence like this_ “All this happened, more or less”, but it just humbled myself to get in to the gist of it, to start, when I aim to write. So this is a bag of tales that I will unfold before your eyes.
Thanks, to Mr. Alec Nevala-Lee’s Quote, on the picture above _”Clensed by hilltop winds”
_ That is, when I read it, it recalled instantly to my mind, a place of my childhood, and souvenirs I treasured, a place in which I found dear and cognate companionship in this wilderness, so many years back then. On the thither downhill side of life, at the age of seven or nine years old, I was too young then to meditate; and only I was there standing still from the edge of the cliff so high that gives you a vertigo if you look down to you feet, my ears cleansed by the winds, with my little two eyes, wide-opened_”that one could hang his hat to them_Mark Twain,” to contemplate the vista, on the other side of the crests of hill, where you could see only the tops of the skyscrapers emerging from the top of the greenery, imagine the tall of the pines trees then, but you could just hear the tumult of the city, as I stood there! intrigued by the roar, and fascinated by the grand view, waiting for the firing of the Big Gun in the not too far city of Algiers, at bird’s flight; in that time of yore, the Bang was used to announce the Iftar, to break fasting; a costume of the last century, inherited from The Janissairies , the guards of The Ottomans, rulers of Algiers of Old. It was a signal for Moselmeens to break their fasting, on the first day of Ramadan; then, it was to break the fast with a syrupy piece of Zalabia, an oriental pastries, (you can find it at an Indian foods store, at Jackson Heights). I was holding it with the tips of my fingers, the syrup running in my hand, waiting to eat it at the main moment of the bang. With Life yet to live, ahead of you, our main interest was to be happy as much as we could.
The place, called_ Le Caillou, literally “The stone”, in French, and “El Hajarah,” in Arabic, hence its name, people learnt by rote from generation to generation, since ancient times. It is a flat rock capping the hilltop, that people used it as watchtower for observing the birth of the new moon on Ramadan’s Eve, and for many other purposes, like a place where to lizard on it enjoying the lasting rays in Fall, for picnics in Spring, and looking for freshness and some relief from the heath, in Summer nights. It ended abruptly at the edge of the ridge in to a cliff, five to ten feet aplomb below. Then, at its feet there was the courtyard of my grandparents’ adobe house with a terra-cotta tiled roof. It was a pleasure for us to lay on top of the Caillou, a sort of secondhand natural roof extension to the house, from where you can see the Milky Way, and sleep over night under the sheltering sky, waiting for a chance to see The Holy Night of Fate, the twenty-seventh night eve of Ramadan, according to the Quran, and to make a wish, a once in your life that would be exhausted. A Saint Elmo lights like the one people seemed to see now and then. At a distance, the horizon line on the other side hilltop was barred by a green bank of pine-trees, and only the imagistic towering half-moon building of the Shell Petroleum Cie, with its hundreds of windows touched by the lasting rays of the sunset was shining alone, and seemed to protruded in to the sky like two gold fingers over the flowed greenery fence. Out of curiosity, seeing that it intrigued me, my grandpa told me that what you see beyond the forest, it is a building, a pile of houses built ones on each other’s, and at the feet of the building, there was the trove, the state of art, the city Le Paradou. I asked him what is it, he said: ” Le Paradou, in French, it means a small paradise, and far beyond it, there is a sea down the mount: the faint roar rising, the blow of a toot, now and then, and the tumult you may sometimes hear in the evening, all that is coming from there, and at the foothill: Algiers; a big city, where the Big Gun will be fired, soon, ending by then the fasting of the day, and then you can eat your Zelabiah.” I stood there absorbed with my thoughts_I couldn’t imagine that Paradise was made of houses; the Taleb, the teacher at the madrassa told us that Paradise in the Quran was like meadows, orchards with all sort of fruits, and rivers of nectar delightful taste to drink, running though it. There is a legend and a costume about fasting on the month of Ramadan that still existed a longtime ago, after the Ottomans Empire was gone, but there is no more of use of it today.
The legend is, The Machine Gun” Baba Merzoug“: The guardian of the Bay of Algiers; the unique master piece of artillery in the Mediterranean Sea in the time of the Ottomans Empire ago, it measures seven meters, and weighs twelve tons, made of bronze metal, protecting Algiers_ El Mahroussa, during more than two centuries from enemy fleets invaders by sea, until the fall of The Capital, in the hands of French, in 1832. The canon a buttin de guerre, is exposed till now in the Museum of War, in Brest, France. The costume, the fire of a machine gun, to announce the end of fasting for Moslems, which was introduced by the Turks Janissaries in Algeria, for more than four hundred years ago, and perpetuated longtime after their depart from Algiers, and was still in use until the Independence of Algeria in 1962, and then was abandoned definitely and or replaced by the Adhan only, the call of the muezzin for prayer in Islam. Although we were at a threw of a stone from Algiers, The Capital of Algeria, and civilization; with my galloping imagination, it seemed to me that it was sited on another planet, as I raised my eyes toward the sky to see the new moon peeped at sunset, like a hairbreadth of gold, sustained in the horizon, for a few minutes before it disappeared, as the dusk begun to dress its camp
Pennies, by Rattan Amol http://creativecommons.org/
In turn, they gave me a copper coin, the value of fifty cents; ago the tradition was a thin sequins, a Louis-Napoleon XVI gold coin, one of the sequins mounted in necklace, that grandma would had picked from her family heirloom, a tiny jewelry box, a relic that she had treasured over the years. An aunt or any other member of the family, would had done the same with a silver coin, to gratify the kid in recompense for his first attempt to finish proudly his day of fasting.
My mother had made a cocktail ready for me to take out; a sherbet: iced cubs, and cold water, with a dash of cinnamon, a cup of sugar cane, and drops of orange – blossoms water in a pitcher, that I took in a journey_or a walk, in a door-to-door, like going for trick or trade, like in Halloween, with a bucket in a hand
_ to pay a visit to our relatives in Algiers of olden, a costume of the last century, were the kids whom they were encouraged to fast for the first time in their life, then they went accompanied by a member of the family. They went in a walk, to visit their friends and neighbors. Save that, I was the waiter, and them they were my family members; my grand-parents, aunts and uncles, relatives, and also some neighbors, they have their houses at the down hill side, they gave me in turn, after pouring them the sherbet in a tea-cup that they tend to me, in turn, they gave me a coin the value of fifty cents; ago the tradition was, a Louis-Napoleon XVI coin, one of the tin sequins mounted in necklace in gold that grandma would had picked from a family heirloom, a tiny jewelry box, a relic that she treasured over the years. An aunt or any member in the family or relatives would had gratified the kid with silver coins, for his attempt to finish the day fasting.
It was the first day of Ramadan, and my first experience in my life of fasting ; the custom was, that the Moslems teach their child fasting, and do prayers as well, at the age of seven years old, according to the Hadith, ” teach your children religion, at seven.” _ The sayings of the prophet of Islam, Mohamed. Not that the child has to fast at the age of seven, but at least to initiate them to religion, to learn how to do it, and it is the same, I guess, in a way or another, as people does to teach their kids, but using a slightly different methods, as it might exist in other religions.
There was a stairway of stones steps that led to the hilltop, some flights away, it continued its serpentine way throughout a goat path, until to the crest. You climb in to it painstakingly; it has been made slippery by the fallen leaves, and weathered grass by the Indian Summer heath, and it worsen à-mesure as the grade became more abrupt and the steps steeped, and became distants to each other’s. After a moment of escalating it, I heard a weaning complaint, a ” wait for me”, and a sob coming from my little brother following behind me, few steps away. I turned back to see him sitting on a step stone, one hand grasping to a stone, and with the other hand his knee. “_Dum ass, hurry up!” I said, as I continued walking, then I heard another muffled weaning again; I turn my head to see him just still sitting at the same place, and sobbing,
I turned back to him, and saw the tiny and rosy scorch on his little knee, I said: “come on, it’s only a little scratch, don’t stay there weaning like a baby girl, give me your hand and let’s go!” He shed a tear, and stood up as I tended my hand to him, and we resumed our accent. Once there , we found Grandpa sitting his bones on a small wooden stool, with a round unteethed smile on his face, like a little doughnut, and laughing to us. We run to hug him. End of the story, more or less; still there was twenty-eight days of Fasting of Ramadan to go… It was the beginnings of Ramadan, and The Revolution in Algeria, a War that long lasted and not coming yet to an end.