03 April 2007

la réclusion solitaire

Today, I don't work.

I will do my laundry in the courtyard sink. I will then go to the café.

By administrative (or other) order, I must abandon the trunk. They proposed to me a cage in the building where the tired and peeling walls must shelter certain-someones in solitude. There was nothing to move: some clothes and some pictures; a bar of soap and a comb; a clothesline and some pins.

The Room.

A square box barely lit by a lightbulb that sticks to the ceiling. The coats of paint that are succeeded by themselves on the walls are flaking off -- they fall like little petals and become dust.

Four beds are stacked in twos. A high window...

The blond man with dark eyes woke me up. He offered me tea and figs, and we left for work.

Upon entering the building, they gave us the rules:

-- It is forbidden to have female guests;
-- It is forbidden to listen to the radio after nine;
-- It is forbidden to sing in the evening, especially in Arabic or Kabyle;
-- It is forbidden to slit the throat of sheep in the building;
-- It is forbidden to do yoga in the corridors;
-- It is forbidden to repaint the walls, to touch the furniture, to break the window panes, to change the lightbulb, to fall ill, to have diarrhea, to make policy, to forget to go to work, to think of coming to the family, ... to go out pajamas in the street, to complain of objective and subjective conditions of life, ... to read or write insults on the walls, to dispute yourselves, to beat yourselves, to handle a kinfe, to avenge yourselves.
-- It is forbidden to die in this room, in the confines of this building (go die elsewhere; at your home, for example, would be more convenient);
-- It is forbidden to commit suicide (even if we send you to prison); your religion forbids you, as does ours;
-- It is forbidden to climb trees;
-- It it forbidden to paint yourselves in blue, in green, or in mauve;
-- It is forbidden to circle your room on a bicycle, to play cards, to drink wine (not champagne);
-- It is also forbidden to ... take another route in order to return to your job.

You have been warned. We advise you to follow the rules. Otherwise, you will be sent back to the chest and the basement, then to an internment camp until you are repatronised.

In this room, I must live with the rules and three others: the blond man with the dark eyes, the dark-haired man with the merry eyes, and the third is absent. He was hospitalised because he had a headache.