Marseilles

Madre dell'ucciso - Gilbert Zakhia

You will not walk on my feet and you will not change me

No, you will respect me

respect me for who I am, for who I choose to be

Accept me, accept me as I am

These are my last words to you

Accept me, or disappear from my view

A bit more than two centuries ago I lived in Marseilles

And I feel a tremendous amount of anger related to the unfairness of the life I lived there back then

Sometimes this anger resurfaces against the persons around me, for little unimportant things

Less and less often lately, but it is still here, underneath, and it deserved to be addressed, understood, healed

One year ago, when I decided to halt one night in Marseilles while crossing France by train, my eyes blurred with tears

I imagined these simple men and women that had died fighting against oppression for their freedom

And I felt a strong sense of belonging with them

In my heart I was one of them

Rising with my fork in the uproar and chanting, shouting for justice and freedom after years of unfairness and abuses

Early morning when I started walking in Marseilles, I cried

I was listening to music and imagining the throng around me, the valiant revolutionaries rising and fighting

And I imagined a young man killed, his dreams shattered, and his mother crying, crying over his lifeless corpse

I don’t remember the injustices that were committed against me during that life in Marseilles

But I know I often felt this same sense of unfairness in my current life, even when fate has favored me

I feel this strong sense of unfairness for my tiny nation that has several times been threatened to be canceled from the map

For oppressed minorities that are exterminated, especially when I see a devastated mother crying her children, or a civilization going extinct

For nature that is bleeding every day, destroyed and disfigured in a thousand of little ways

Against people who throw eatable food easily, my first reflex is to jump and stop them from committing such an abhorrent act

You may think it all comes from my deep sensitivity, but I believe it is also related to experiences of hunger and pain and unfairness I’ve suffered in the past

When I was younger I used to be uncompromising in my beliefs about what was the best for the world

My dream was to be in charge, be a good dictator, to build an ideal society, ideal cities based on peaceful cohabitation between humans and nature

Each day I panicked seeing nature being destroyed, mountains eaten down, whole stretches of coast embanked, forests burnt, old houses destroyed

I wanted to put a halt to all that

I had not understood yet that everything happens for a reason, that even bad things, in particular bad things, will help us evolve along the path of self-discovery, and that to love deeply one’s must first delve into his shadows, to understand what is the absence of love

When I finally arrived in Marseilles old town that is built on several hills overlook the deep blue sea with its rocky coastlines and its islands, I was filled with emotions and a sense of awe

I asked my road to a very old woman and she chatted gaily with me and I felt a sense of belonging with her

I arrived close to an old fisher harbor and scrambled on the rocks and ate some sea fennel that grew there, as salty as I liked it

The sculpture in the picture is by Francesco Ciusa, “La madre dell’ucciso”, Museo Ciusa di Nuoro (Sardinia), 1907