On my 83rd. Birthday
I read about the practice of helping Alzheimer patients by recreating the environment of their youth.
I think nostalgically of the inner courtyard of our house in Aleppo. There around a primus stove, mygrandmother taught the next generation of the women of the family how to cook the preferred dishes.
I remember the well in the dark passage where in the basket at the end of the rope we placed the water melon and bottles of water to cool.
And the dark toilet at the end of the passage, where a sadistic uncle liked to tease us and threaten us with incarceration. And the kitchen off this passage where the dishes had to be cleaned perfectly for fear of the ire of the man of the house.
Also I remember the Lebanese mountains and the smell of pines in the forest. The unbearably blue sea, the walk to the beach with the rolled towel and swimsuit behind my older brother who never talked to me .
My exile to London was voluntary. I explored the country of my French culture. I did not fit in. Tried Manchester where some of our family had settled. The city impressed me for the kindness of the people but the skies were too dull. I tried Israel for its geography so similar to Syria and Lebanon but felt like an inferior being amongst the Europeans.
I finished in London having chosen a kind, reliable and funny partner to live with.
But I think of all the old women whose exile has been involuntary and Le Mal du Pays a constant wound. How to restore to them when needed the atmosphere and environment of their youth???