By Mohamed Saïd Raïhani
By Mohamed Saïd Raïhani
Morocco World News
Ksar El Kébir, Morocco, March 17, 2012
I never know why my father, every dawn, slips downstairs to the disused room underground and shuts himself in for such a long time.
Would it be a prayer ritual?
Acts of worship and prayer, however, do not require so much vigilance.
Would it be a rite of witchcraft?
But it has no accessories for this kind of usage: No brazier, nor ink pot, nor weeds, nor animal dry parts…
He is only reading!
Through the keyhole, I can see clearly his great interest in the text between his hands. His eyes are wide open, head dangling almost to the level of his yellow book and his breathing is clearly heard in the utter silence of the place.
Can he be reading an erotic book?!
Once he finishes his reading that seemed to me much closer to a liturgy, he puts his object of worship in a dusty drawer and locks it. Then, he puts the first key, silver in color, in a briefcase that is closed with a copper key which he then puts in an old box that he closes with a smaller key. Finally, he hides the small key under the right-end corner of the mat partly covering the floor.
At feeling him behind the door, I slip unobtrusively into the cubicle to avoid arousing suspicion. I stay there watching him climb up the stairs and look at his watch.
That day, It was seven o’clock in the morning. From that time on, he would not be back home before noon. So, I would have ample free time to search for my father’s favorite book and read it in the same favorite spot even if time is not dawn.
Having made sure that he had really gone to work, I rushed downstairs to the dark room. I slipped my fingers under the right-end corner of the mat in search of the small key with which I opened the box enduring the acrid smell of old wood flying up to my nostrils. Then, I picked up the copper key that helped me open the briefcase. But inside it, I found no key in any size or colour although I am sure that I saw, with my own eyes, my father slip the silver key inside.
I vigorously shook the briefcase and heard a tinkling of several baubles within. I emptied its contents to see many keys fall at my feet. I tried the first key, the second, the third… I carried on trying until I found the silver key which allowed me to open the drawer and find myself finally in front of my book, my enigma.
Is it the Koran?
Not in the least, this is a strange book written with a calligraphy typically Moroccan but it is not the Koran.
It is may be a will, a legacy, since the prologue is in the form of a pyramid scheme of pedigrees, and my family name is mentioned in every branch and every root.
These can be my ancestors and this chart may be the path I must take to reach them.
In the following pages, the names of my grandparents seem to be written as titles on top of every single page. The text, composed mainly of two or three paragraphs, seem to be written with the hand of the grandfather mentioned in the title on top of the page.
Every text was annotated by a different hand. This means that the book dates back to centuries ago. This probably justifies the deteriorating condition of the book that has been exposed for ages to mold and damp places and has suffered additional roughness caused by the curious hands of the following generations of my ancestors who came, on their turn, to write down their comments.
What could they have written?
I read the first witness.
I shuddered thoroughly.
I read the second with great convulsion.
I read the third, the fourth, the fifth and I found myself shivering all over.
What has really happened to all my ancestors?
Do I belong to a lineage of the cursed?
Is it damnation?
Have all my ancestors been wretched and miserable?
Can wretch have such power as to set hand on an entire descendance?
All my ancestors, throughout these pages, confess, with their own handwriting, their misfortune and attribute it to their disobedience to the will written by my first great-grandfather who has defined happiness and confined it to The Three Secret Keys.
But where is this precious Testament?
I searched the book line by line, page by page, from left to right and from right to left but in vain.
Theoretically, the testament should be at the beginning of the book as it refers to my great-grandfather.
Where can this Testament be?
Time is short and I feel more and more uneasy under the crushing pressure of emergency. Confusion overwhelms me. The book unravels between my fingers and suddenly its binding yielded and its leaves scattered everywhere, unleashing a cloud of dust and a hurly-burly of coughing and sneezing.
Thus ends the whole process usually done in haste, with remorse and regret!
At once, I left the place to explore my family’s reaction to the chaos I have caused. Luckily, nobody seemed to care. I looked up at the sun and knew that I still had some more time ahead. So, I went down back to the dark room to complete my task. This time, I chose to sit down on the mat and concentrate on cooling down my nerves, alternating inspiration and expiration so as to recover my balance and then my ability to handle the situation wisely.
Now, I am calm again and I can put everything in order with great dexterity and precision.
In a few moments, the book was well-arranged and… Oh!
Here is the Testament!
Here is «The secret Of Secrets»!
Here are «The keys To Happiness»!
Here are «The Three Keys»!
The Key Of Freedom:
“Everybody, my son, has got a fine thread deep inside relating him to the little child he has been with all his innocence, happiness, lightness and riotousness… generating questions and welcoming life.
However, the great battle, dear son, will always remain centralized on the honour of grasping that thread. If ever you let that fibre fall in other people’s hands, you will spend your whole life moving according to their will, dancing to their desire, cooling down to their order and weeping to their consolation…
At that time, my son, you should know that you have become a mere puppet, a real doll with no force left and no will to act on your own.
However, grasping the thread will still be far out of your reach unless you fall on the second key, “The Key of Dream”: your guide to your deeper world and your friend who will never care for your trouble when Truth is the target, leading you to the mirror, showing you your real face with your real name in your real environment…
So, welcome, dear son, into the world of Dream: “the world of Reality”!”
The Key Of Dream:
“Dear son, you may love music to get rid of boring silence. You may also love plastic composition that sets your vision free from monotony. You may even love poetry to renew yourself with creative imagery and original rhyming. You may, even more, love theatrical shows that open the tiny worlds on the bigger ones developing gradually from comic hints to serious visions… However, passion, real passion, dear son, is to have a full dream in your own sleep and to remember it fully in your waking. This chance is denied to most humans: to get rid of all the natural laws and fly as free as a dove, as light as a cloud, as carefree as the wind; to throw aside all the social laws and get naked like a baby happy with his first steps running merrily in public places, careless of laws of age, gender, tribe or race… Real passion, my dear son, is to live your own dreams and make them come true.”
The Key Of Love:
“Freedom, dear son, requires formation and tutorship. Dream can serve Freedom when his help is needed. Dreams, however, will need practical actions to make them real. Looking out to achieve “The Dream of Freedom”, there can be no practical action more efficient than Love.
Love, dear son, is an endless journey. It is an adventure that can get you to the world of maturity, to the world of giving.
Love is giving, dear son: Giving out of your money, your time, your mind, your soul and your body…
Love is the highest manifestation of healthy development in your character. However, dear son, you will neither experience full love nor enjoy the pleasure of being in love before loving yourself.
Love yourself before loving anybody else. Go back to yourself. Identify your shining points. Control your strong points. Enjoy your beauty before the mirror. Remember the happy moments and the shining memories that have taken place in your past life and bring them back again to your present. Review your positive glossary and your style in communicating with your interlocutors. Pride yourself on what distinguishes you from other people, knowing that only Difference justifies the continuity of Existence.
Dear son, Love yourself so that you can easily love others. By owning love, you will set the wretched free; by owning happiness, you will deliver the miserable out of their gloomy cells; and by owning light, you will make the whole place around you brighter for all those souls stumbling silently in their internal gloom.”
Now, it is midday.
I closed the book and put it carefully in the drawer which I locked with the first key, and slid it into the briefcase that I closed with the second key and put it in the box to shut it with the tiny key that I slipped beneath the right-end corner of the mat.
I got out and closed the door behind me. Then, I got upstairs to wait for my father in the dining-room.
The next day, at dawn, I had a newer appointment with the same keyhole downstairs: attending my father’s rituals which are no longer a mystery to me. From that time on, instead of paying attention to the book in my father’s hands, I would focus on his reactions to what he reads.
Nevertheless, my father’s mood seemed unusually strange. Instead of getting immersed in his book, his eyes got frozen on the small fingerprints on the dusty floor and his concern grew sharper when he noticed traces of my feet pacing forth straight to the key under the right-end corner of the mat…
At that time, I saw his eyes fixed on me through the keyhole.
Is he asleep?
But I can see him blinking!
Is he looking at me ?
I glanced around and made sure that I was all alone in the darkness behind the door.
In trying to put my eye back to the keyhole, the door opened all of a sudden and I found myself kneeling down in front of my father who resisted a grin:
– Sorry, my son, to have you bothered with so much noise!
I improvised a reply before surprise should paralyze me:
– Yes, Daddy, and that is why I came down to find out.
He patted my neck and carried on:
– Very well, my son! Come in and find out!
Then, he strode away towards the stairway while I stood still watching him climb up the stairs, one after the other.
Mohamed Saïd Raïhani is a Moroccan translator, scholar & short-story writer, from Ksar El Kébir. He is “African Writing Magazine“ Editorial Consultant, Moroccan Writers’ Union member.He is the author of “The Singularity Will“ (A Semiotic Study on First-names) 2001, “Waiting For the Morning“ (Short stories) 2003,“Thus Spoke Santa Lugar-Verde“ (Short stories) 2005, “The Season Of Migration to Anywhere“ (Short stories) 2006, “The Three Keys: Freedom, Dream & Love“ (An anthology of Moroccan New Short Story in Three Volumes) 2006-2007-2008, A Dialogue Between Two generations“ (Short stories Co-authored with Driss Seghir) 2011.
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved