Posts Tagged ‘violence’


Mute #JesuisCharlie

22 janvier 2015

je-suis-charlieEveryday’s routine, it goes on…

Time hasn’t stopped. Nothing’s changed and yet everything is different.

It’s the same winter cold hurting your hands and preventing the blood to flow, the same people tapping their feet in the bleak morning, waiting for the train to pull up, trying to wake up, trying to figure out reality from their dreams, the same clock telling you to get up, you sleep walk through the routine, you close your eyes under the water beating down your neck, your back, your face, you stand in front of your closet trying to figure out what to wear, cursing yourself for not planning ahead, yesterday you should have thought about tomorrow. You should have known. Someone should have known.

You’re not hungry. You never are before you leave but now your stomach hurts.

Nothing seems real anymore, everything hurts, even more than usual, if you wake up the numbness will stop and it can’t, how can you go on, how can you accept the routine, the minutes, the days, how can life go on… If you wake up you will start feeling and anger will rush in, with frustration and the deafening noise of things left unsaid.

Please tell me… how to look down in my child’s innocent eyes and explain.

Something happened.

You can’t wrap up your mind around it.

Somewhere in your head, there’s a young girl screaming that this isn’t right. If someone came into your home, if someone pushed the door and walked and spread terror, what then, how would you go on… You often get angry when your kids don’t lock the door, they feel so safe and confident, probably thanks to you, they are very curious and unafraid, you and your inner barriers admire that in them. Look, all these people dead Maman, look at those mad men, why Maman, can’t they take a joke? Poor them then. The adults are so intense and weird. It’s a pretty harsh way to disagree over a bad joke.

They bend their head solemnly; somehow they got it quicker than you.

This is what it feels like. This is what happened

Someone walked into your home and killed people you had never met, even though you knew all their names and faces, even thought you had read their work, laughed at some of their jokes and frowned over others. Some one walked over your soul and reminded you that nothing is forever, they showed you how hard it is to remain true to freedom, how much courage it takes to unabashly laugh in spite of or because of how absurd our world is.

You who won’t speak, you who knows so well how to love and embrace the present, today you can’t cry over what is nor over what will never be. You are mourning in silence, knowing things must change but not quite sure where to start.

They had so much joy and irony in them, still, they had so much to do, to draw, to speak of.

They have been robbed of a future and you feel like you have been robbed too, that something that wasn’t quite yours but that you felt you could claim as yours was ripped away.

Today’s routine is about whys an why nots, it’s about never knowing when you will be home, where exactly will people be so afraid that they will call in a bomb scare, the threat is unreal and only exists in themselves, to you everyone is a potential companion whether is be for 5 minutes or a lifetime, today is about trains going backwards and people trapped and scared, today is about walking endless hallways and finding a way home… and when you forget your phone, you are truly even more peacefully alone than usual.

Life will go on. People will heal, they will forget, blindness is so much more comfortable. There will only be a few, like you, waking up in the middle of the night to wonder and cry for the lost ones and the darkness in the ennemy’s souls, for, so you think, they must have endured hell on earth to hate so much that the only answer would be to walk into someone else’s home, cross the sacred threshold and shed blood. There is no redemption, there is no going back and you have no answer and so, in your own innocent loneliness, all you can do is walk the hallways in the cold and find your way home to hold your children.

And when you arrive, they will look at you and say:

– They are not lost, they are dicks.

And they will be right.




29 mai 2010

Votre mère n'a plus voulu de vous. Elle vous a laissé à l'assistance publique, vos frères et vous, elle a signifié qu'elle ne souhaitait plus s'occuper de vous et elle est partie. Vous ne la reverrez que 35 ans plus tard, pour lui signifier à votre tour que vous ne vous occuperiez pas d'elle, que vous paieriez pas son hospice. Oeil pour oeil…

La société utilise des mots feutrés, des mots détournés qui ne veulent rien dire. Elle dit que votre mère vous a confié à la DASS, elle parle de "remise volontaire en vue d'admission comme pupille de l'Etat". Confier, cela n'a aucun sens. Son acte se détournait de vous, son acte vous laissait seule, dans le sentiment d'indignité, marquée à jamais d'un sceau invisible et honteux criant que vous n'étiez pas digne d'être aimée. Votre mère ne vous a confié à personne. Votre mère vous a abandonnée pour un ultime amant, elle a disparu en gardant l'autorité parentale et en vous rendant inadoptable. Vous aviez encore, après tout, une grand-mère.

De votre enfance, vous gardez le goût du pain mou, la couleur gris sale et une claustrophobie liée à une panique qui empêchera souvent l'air de remplir vos poumons. Une sensation de flou, aussi : vous aviez besoin de lunettes, besoin décelé très tard et qui reculera l'âge auquel vous apprendrez à lire.

Les semaines passent, votre grand-mère, vous rend fidèlement visite tous les samedis. Elle essaie d'adoucir votre sort avec quelques biscuits et avec ses mots d'amour. Elle ne peut guère plus, la mère de votre maman dont les larmes ont tari. Lorsqu'enfin elle obtient le droit de vous recevoir le week-end, elle vous laisse sa chambre et dort avec vos frères dans le salon. Elle se prive de repas en semaine pour pouvoir vous nourrir correctement. Pendant deux ans, elle continue à travailler vaillamment à l'usine tout en blanchissant et en  maigrissant. Vingt-quatre mois avant que les mots parviennent à sortir de votre bouche, vous avez grandi, et que vous demandiez de l'argent à l'assistance publique, avant qu'elle n'obtienne une forme de pension. Cet argent lui permettra de vous aimer et de vous nourrir sans se priver, de son côté, des produits dits de première nécessité.

L'essentiel, elle vous le donne. Elle vous entoure de ses bras, de sa chaleur et de son amour, elle essaie d'effacer la blessure maternelle qui brûle votre coeur et vos yeux brillants. Elle vous berce, caresse votre visage de ses mains usées, elle veille sur votre sommeil et votre âme.

Elle pose ses yeux sur vous, "Mémé", elle pose ses yeux sur ses quatre petits-enfants aux pères inconnus et aux teintes de peaux si différentes. Elle-même rayonne d'un métissage affirmé et assumé. Elle a grandi dans la haine de termes comme "métisse", "quarteron" – un quart de quoi? trois quart de quoi? Elle se sent 100% humaine et vivante. Une fois adulte, elle arrêtera de lisser ses cheveux, elle arrête d'essayer de ressembler à quelqu'un d'autre. 

Plus tard, une fois qu'elle sera morte, une fois que vous aurez vos propres enfants, cinq, du même père avec lequel ils grandissent, vous comprendrez à quel point elle vous a permis de vous construire dans la vie, d'être actrice, de vivre debout. Votre mère n'est que cela, une mère, une génitrice. C'est à votre grand-mère que vous penserez les soirs de forte fièvre, lorsque vous épongerez le front brûlant de vos enfants, puis de vos petits-enfants. Ce sont ses gestes que vous reproduirez, ses chansons que vous chanterez. En vous regardant dans le miroir, vous qui avez la peau si claire par rapport à la sienne, vous voyez, comprenez, vous sentez l'amour qu'elle vous a transmis, et vous souriez.


The phone call

14 février 2010


It was only a couple months ago, when a mother made me cry.

It is my last day here, at work. I count trucks, I answer phone calls, I fill in charts. It’s pretty boring, but there is a pay check at the end of the month. 

I’m not really good at keeping a job. Not that I don’t work well. I show up, I do as I’m told. I blend in, I’m invisible. I guess I’m so good at making myself forgotten, people don’t miss me, once I’m gone. The temp agency already called me this morning. I’m to fill in for a maternity leave in a billing department, for a big insurance company. It’s a little closer to home, it’s slightly better paid, I think they did me a favor. No client of theirs ever complained about me. 

Except two months ago, when I cried at work. I cried at work, I cried in the subway, I cried in my car coming back from the supermarket. 

I don’t know how it started. I don’t know why. I have an older daughter, she’s seven, she’s never been a problem. She’s like me I guess, she’s nice and polite and behaved. Her grades are good, her friends are average, her teachers probably forget her from one year to the next.

My son, he’s different, he is smart and beautiful. 

My son, I don’t know what’s wrong with him. 

Until he was three, I never had any complaints. His nanny was a nice woman who looked after him and two little babes. He was the oldest, maybe he ruled over them a little. I guess he didn’t play much with them, they were too little. Maybe her house was his kingdom, and it was normal there, it was normal that he was better than adults at chess and other old board games. When you play on a board, your head is bent down. You don’t have to look at the person facing you.

His first year of school, it was hard. Not a week went by without having to defend him in the headmistress’ office. My son is not a mean child, my son is not violent. He would never hit girls. He would never refuse to cooperate. He would never know how to manipulate other children.

I couldn’t hear it, I refused the words, the way she looked at me with her silents questions and judgements. 

I do not hit my son. I am not hit on by my husband. 

That’s what she insinuated, with her silences and her watery eyes goggling me with annoyance. She started to hate me, and my child, and the problem we created in her school.

I, I was beyond hating her, for the guilt, the pain, for the words.

Slowly, I realized that all her words weren’t lies, and that my son wasn’t the same boy I knew than the one that went in her school. And I got depressed and lost my job, and I started temping.

Yet I hoped things would be better this year. We still wouldn’t take him to see a specialist, but he started karate. He was taught all about honoring his opponents and respecting others.

Then the letters started coming, from different mothers, one, two, three… Every week, a different one, for a different girl. This time, the words weren’t said to my face, they were written to the system, photocopied to me and sent by postal mail. Angry incoherent words read by many eyes, that burned my heart with pain and guilt and shame. 

And the last one came…

The last letter was a work of art. A work of worry, with well chosen phrases as precise as a scalpel. There was no anger, no confusion, just cold worried facts, a reminder of the law and a warning : once more, and we’ll go to the cops. 

It was a letter telling the story of a boy who hit a girl, a boy who put his hands around her neck and squeezed. A boy who manipulated other kids : you hold her like this, and I’ll hurt her. The words told the story of a horrible stranger and yet the stranger was my son. 

Your son needs help, your son must have the help he needs, your son deserves to become a balanced young man who respects girls.

That’s what the mother said, with her chiseled ways.

The system took over. 

Nowadays, every week, he sees a child psychiatrist, a psychomotor specialist, a teacher for « special kids », he’s had his IQ tested and had a whole psych evaluation.

My son is smart, very smart, but until two month ago, my son didn’t know how to play. He didn’t understand how kids in his class played, what were their rules, he felt excluded and he hit them.

Today, my son runs to school and laughs. There is still work that needs to be done, but already he is a changed little boy who know what it is to be carefree and to have friends. Already, he is on the path to freedom and happiness. 

Today, I can breathe, I can relax. And maybe who knows, people from my next job, they’ll see me and remember that I am there. Maybe they’ll want me to stay a while.


This mother, she made me cry. I think she saved my boy.

But I will never tell her. She tried to call me just now. I recognized her phone number from her letter, it hurt me so much I know it by heart, and I hung up on her. 


Des cheveux fins et une bouée en métal

27 novembre 2009

Tu es un petit garçon au cheveux fins et blonds et aux yeux indéfinissables. Tu fais grand pour ton âge, on te donne plutôt cinq ou six ans que quatre. Tu es un petit garçon de quatre ans et demi et tu es accroché à une grille. C’est un scénario qui se répète, c’est un scénario habituel, il est 13h25 et le spectacle commence. 


De toutes tes forces tu luttes, tu n’es ni dans l’école ni hors de l’école et tu veux rester là, à cet endroit qui n’est rien, les mains et les pieds agrippés aux barreaux pourtant glacés. Tout le monde te regarde et tu ne regardes personnes. 


Ta maman aussi te parle sans te regarder, elle parle à ta capuche, elle a le visage fermé et les traits fatigués. « Je m’en vais, je te tourne le dos et je marche loin de toi ». Ta maman parle à ta capuche, les adultes tirent sur ta capuche, toi tu restes figé et tu ne parles à personne. Ta maman s’éloigne et tu continues à  t’accrocher, sans bouger, personne ne peut entrer ni sortir sauf quelques enfants plus petits, qui se faufilent comme des anguilles et vont jouer avec leurs camarades. L’année dernière, tu communiquais avec tes poings, cette année, tu as appris que les mots ça pouvait faire mal aussi, mais pas devant les adultes, et hier tu as compris que les ennemis de tes ennemis pouvaient être tes amis et que pour taper une gamine ça pouvait être pratique. « Y en a un qui la tient, et moi je la tape ». Tu coexistes en marge des autres, tu coexistes en marge du monde, dans la souffrance de la violence, dans la violence de la souffrance, dans cette solitude désespérée, accroché à une bouée en fer, comme si ta vie dépendait de ce contact avec ce métal glacé.


Au bout de ma main une autre main plus petite, qui te regarde. Qui te connaît. Qui sait et qui dit « je me laisse tomber par terre, je roule et je m’enfuie, et je cours voir un adulte ». 


Je ne peux rien pour toi. Je peux te regarder sans te juger, sans poser de diagnostique, espérant que toutes les aides qui s’offrent à toi, tu sauras les recevoir. Que ta souffrance et ta détresse trouveront leur remède.


Quatre mains saisissent tes épaules et t’aspirent dans la cour de l’école, la grille claque avec nous dehors. « Deux minutes et vous pourrez entrer ». Tu t’agites, toujours en silence, puis finalement tu t’éloignes avec une enseignante, cramponné à une jambe qui remplace les barreaux de ton radeau. 


A mon tour je m’en vais. Une fois que la grille est rouverte, que ma main est vide, je repars dans le vent transperçant, un peu chamboulée et sachant que je te reverrai lundi prochain. 


The school didn’t hear her, but her parents did

17 novembre 2009



My name is not important. I’m a girl, I’m four.

I’m a four year old girl.

I have long blond hair, fair skin and blue eyes. I’m a princess, I’m queen, I’m a star. I’m really tall for my age, and most people think I’m older, like, 5. That’s old.

My best friend, PrincessZoulou, is the same age I am. We’re the same age, we’re the same height, we both have blue eyes. PrincessZoulou and I are like twin sisters, except that she has short dark hair. We share everything, our toys, our dreams, our songs, and our lipstick.

We started school last year, we were in the same class.

Last year, I was a three year old girl, I was a three year old princess with dreams and friends.

Last year, I met R. He was a boy, the same age as I although even much taller. I don’t really talk to boys, so I didn’t l talk to him. One day, R pushed me from the slides. I fell hard and had dark bruises on my side. It hurt.

I thought it was a joke, I thought it would stop.

It didn’t.

He also pushed and bruised PrincessZoulou, so that made two of us. There was us, and there was the rest of the playground. They watched, in sympathy, but they did nothing. Relentlessly, PrincessZoulou told our teacher, our headmistress, her parents. They punished, they panicked, they growled courteously but firmly. A shield was finally built around us, I was safe.

This year, it’s different. PrincessZoulous is not in my class. And PrincessZoulou is not a victim. Not anymore.

The first week of school, R tried to strangle her. We were at recess, we were all playing. We were all princesses and kings and superheroes, and R tried to strangle my best friend. He put his hand around her neck and he squeezed. She choked, she struggled. She broke free, she broke away and she ran. And the playground watched and did nothing. And the adults there saw nothing. But she told, she accused, she showed the marks. Late that night, her mother cried and swore and used forbidden words. 

The school didn’t hear her, but her parents did. They came to the school, they were angry but they spoke low, they were calm but they were strong.

This year, PrincessZoulou’s mother told her she was allowed to fight back. She had to fight back, she had to hit back. It was a necessity, it was an order. And so she did, again and again (she had a lot of practice with her brothers), and she won.

But no one told me.

This year, PrincessZoulou hit R in the eye and held her ground. This year, there was only one victim left. There was only me left. As the words failed me, as the boy held me in pain, I developed exema, asthma. I stopped being hungry for food or adventures or life, this year my eyes are sad and I get myself sick enough to avoid school.

Today, things are different. Today, PrincessZoulou looked at me in the eyes. « you have to tell your parents« , she said, « you must« . 

And I did. 

Finally, the words came free, and the tears, and the admission that I wasn’t as clumsy as I’d said, that I lied. I never fell down the chair on myself, I never tripped on my shoelaces, these bruises aren’t mine. And today, my parents told me I wasn’t guilty, and I was allright being myself. And I went to sleep, at last, in peace, and as I slept, my mother cried and swore and used forbidden words. 

The school didn’t hear me, but my parents did.

Tonight, my parents called PrincessZoulou’s parents. My best friend kept my secrets, she never told her parents. Well, she never outright told them anything, but they knew enough. They knew enough, and they know enough what to do and who to call. Tonight there were long talks, long phone calls, and hard decisions made by adults. I am unaware of them. I am safe, I am in peace, I am asleep.

Tomorrow, I don’t know if R will be back at school. For the past 14 months, the headmistress has asked his parents to have him consult a special doctor, but they never listened. « Nothing is wrong with our son » they said, « these girls are sissies« .

« Nothing is wrong with our son« , they said, « and nothing is wrong at home. Mind your own business. »

Well, I don’t know what « sissies » means, and I don’t know if R’s older sister and mother are or aren’t this word. I know that R must be hurting somewhere. He must be, or he wouldn’t turn his pain on others. He must, or he wouldn’t know how to exactly hurt me. 

He’s only four years old, as I.

Tomorrow, I will go back to school, and I will learn. Not about pain, not about being a victim. Tomorrow, I will go to school with PrincessZoulou and we will learn school stuff, we will play, we will talk, we will share our lipstick regardless of H1N1.


We will be strong.

(PS : MrsZoulou is very proud of her girl and loves her very much)