Mohamed Saïd Raïhani’s Website
The Power of Dream IN MODERN MOROCCAN SHORT STORY
The idea of translating Moroccan short stories into English shone, at first, to counterbalance the scarcity of Moroccan narrative texts written in or translated into English. This sense of reconsideration, however, was not the only urge to launch this initiative; there was also the need to contribute to the new universal tendency to dialogue between human cultures throughout the globe. Accordingly, the present literary project of translating Moroccan new short stories into English will be prolonged to cover three volumes with three central themes around which are weaved all the narrative texts: ‘‘The Anthology of Moroccan Dream’’ Where the central theme will be Dream in its broader aspects, ‘‘The Anthology of Moroccan love’’ dealing basically with Love as a source of emancipation and creation and ‘‘The Anthology of Freedom’’ where Freedom is the first and last preoccupation of all the texts within.
II)- ‘‘Dream’’ In The Anthology of Moroccan Dreaming short-story writers :
‘‘The Anthology of Moroccan Dream’’ texts are organized thematically from prophecy to ordinary dream, day-dreaming, hallucination, nightmare and finally to madness as the most unacceptable aspect of all kinds of dreams.
Consequently, short stories in ‘‘The Anthology of Moroccan Dream’’ graduate from prophecy in Moustapha Laghtiri’s ‘‘Dream’’, to ordinary dreams in Najib Kaaouachi’s ‘‘Me, Revealed to Myself’’, khadija El Younoussi’s ‘‘Books and Apples’’, fatima Bouziane’s ‘‘Normal’’, Zahra ramij’s ‘‘Dreams’’, Saïd Ahoubate’s ‘‘ The Voice and the Hammer’’, Mohamed Saïd Raïhani’s ‘‘Open, Sesame !’’, Noureddine Mhakkak’s ‘‘The Interpretation of Dreams’’ and Mouna Ouafiq’s ‘‘ Grenade-Man’’… to day-dreams in Abdennour Driss’s ‘‘Shehrayar’s Dream’’ , to hallucination and illusion in malika Moustadraf’s ‘‘ A Space For An Impossible Dream’’ and Abdelouahid Kafih’s ‘‘Bomb’’…to nightmares in Faouzi Boukhriss’s ‘‘Nightmare’’, Abdoullah Mouttaqi’s ‘‘Rebellious Dreams’’ and Mouna Benhaddou’s ‘‘For Everybody His Own Hell’’. The Dreaming Anthology will conclude its journey with madness in Mohamed Zitoune’s ‘‘Castle Incense’’ regarding that madness is the highest planes of all nightmares…
III)-‘‘The Anthology of Moroccan Dream’’reviewed :
A)-Moustapha Laghtiri’s ‘‘Dream’’ :
This text is a pure attempt to grasp a runaway dream soon after waking up. It starts from the conclusion taking hold of the remains of the dream that still resound in memory, deepening the difficult journey backwards towards the eventual beginnings of the dream/story facing many jerks and quakes until remembering the heart of the runaway dream: The bird. It is only then that the story finds its tempo and gathers its components, delivering itself and emancipating the reader:
« It is only then that the world seemed to be in his own hands, that a happy event is in the way to be achieved and that all he had to do is just to sit and wait. »
B)- Najib Kaaouachi’s ‘‘Me, Revealed to Myself’’:
No adventure could be as valuable as the adventure of scratching out one’s own self buried under the daily hullabaloo and the taming habit… The greatest achievement that a man can ever realize is not discovering the word around him but exploring the word inside him.
In this context, ‘‘Me, Revealed to Myself’’ shows an unusual obsession with this theme: Self-discovery. The narrator, all along the story, keeps faithful to his will to chase that mysterious face which resists any approach but only to make sure that all along the dream/pursuit, the narrator was chasing nobody but himself:
« The luminous halo surrounding his face is slowly fading away until it disappeared completely and I saw my own face within : I was that one passing by myself all along the way indiscreetly, with no trace or shadow behind… »
C)- Khadija El Younoussi’s ‘‘Books and Apples’’:
If books symbolize Knowledge and guarantee Its immortality, apples in religious stories are linked to Immortality in Its broader sense. However, in the absence of Adam and Eve, Eternity will remain incomplete.
In ‘‘Books and Apples’’, there is a fabulous combination between bodily nourishment (=apples), intellectual nourishment (=books) and spiritual nourishment (=love). This combination blossoms better in the light of the duality of the severe established order where destitution reigns and the dreamily ideal order where everything is within reach: with the stranger becoming a lover, the expensive books spraying their titles about in the air and apples, Heaven’s fruits, are close at hand…
Being aware of the severity of reality waiting ahead for her, the narrator clings obstinately to the dream she is shaving, refusing to wake up, stretching out her hand to silence the alarm-clock, hoping to live the beautiful dream to eternity.
D)- Fatima Bouzian’s ‘‘
‘‘Normal’’ is a reversed journey starting from the beautiful dream and ending with the bitter reality destined to be the centre of life making despair ordinary, depression ordinary, humiliation ordinary…
‘‘Normal’’ is focused on love at first sight:
« I feel him a real copy of the ideal man’s image that I have been developing deep inside me from all that I have admired in men since the very moment when that hot hormonal flow run in my blood. »
The first sentences of the text evoke a transitional period of life, leaving an old depression phase based on ‘‘ear culture’’ up to a new flourishing phase based on ‘‘eye culture’’:
« Today, I can hear with my eyes ».
However, the dominance of Depression and the power of Habit do not allow any right in Change, Joy and Love intervening at the right moment to pull down the whole dream castle into a mere hopeless shatter in scattered poetic free verses written by Arab Poet Saleh Harbi.
E)- Zahra Ramij’s ‘‘ Dreams’’:
‘‘Dreams’’ is a compound of four dreams around a week-end breakfast and narrated by four dreamy narrators whose worlds and horizons are revealed through the subject-matter of their dreams:
§ The child dreams of more creative worlds.
§ The maid dreams of Deliverance and Self- Respect.
§ The little girl dream of returning to the warmth of the motherly fœtus, very close to the heartbeat.
§ The mother dreams of returning to the childhood making use of the same dreams that she used to have in her childhood: Flying.
«Freedom », in Its absolute innocence, is the principal engine operating the four dreams in the mother text, “Dreams”: The child dreams of leaving school programmes, flying away towards the spacious worlds of literature where free-speech is the only power there is; the maid dreams of swimming across the Mediterranean Sea hoping to restore her freedom and self-respect in another land with other people; the little girl dreams of the greatest freedom, ‘‘the freedom to choose her own fate and decide her own destiny with her own hands’’; and the mother narrator dreams of flying the way no-one in living memory has ever done.
Zahra Ramij’s ‘‘Dreams’’ is a dream about Freedom.
F)- Saïd Ahoubate’s ‘‘The Voice and the Hammer”:
The title ‘‘The Voice and the Hammer” is composed of two words: ‘‘voice’’ or ‘‘call’’ and ‘‘hammer’’ or ‘‘action”. The text, therefore, is a ‘‘call for action’’.
The emitter of this call is a female prisoner moaning across the wall: ‘‘If you deliver me, you will deliver yourself’’, a supplication showing a universal yearn for Liberation and Freedom the first symbolic barrier of which is ‘‘The Wall’’.
‘‘The Voice and the Hammer” focuses on liberating the other or delivering the self reflected on the other, opening the door wide open before a future society reserved exclusively for The Free, giving new spaces for human lungs to breath self-respect different horizons to dream of higher freedom :
“Dear fellows, we feel humiliation being so marginalized in this city, we Vanguards. Our dangerous mission is to set new values on the ruins of this sinful city and establish a newer regime… A regime that will set us free. So, dear fellows, go on your sacred mission…”
Here, ‘‘The Voice and the Hammer” meets another narrative text in ‘‘The Anthology of Moroccan Dream’’, ‘‘Open, sesame!’’ by Mohamed Saïd Raïhani.
G)- Mohamed Saïd Raïhani’s ‘‘Open, Sesame!’’:
The stream of consciousness has made of ‘‘Open, Sesame!’’ an eternal opening on different, renewed worlds within the dream/text, starting with worlds of destitution and despotism and ending with worlds of propagandist poetry and the countdown for the ultimate deluge that is gathering its energies to purify the word, fertilize the fields and blow new spirits in the free, honest, new human race…
The text ends with the dreaming narrator waking up to the rhythm of the knock on the door to see his individual dream being adopted by far-away people and becoming already a collective dream:
« He knocks on the door, waits for the answer, knocks again, examines his registers, searches for insured mail and leaned on the door again, calling:
The postman looks me persistently in the eyes. His features resist a strong smile that he could not control any further. The smile overwhelms him at last and he sets it free. »
H)- Noureddine Mhakkak’s ‘‘ The Interpretation of Dreams’’ :
The central theme in ‘‘The Interpretation Of Dreams’’ is the alienation of the short-story writer in a world where publishing is impossible reading and reception are difficult:
« I decided to gather those foreigners, around there, to tell them my stories. However, those people looked as if they were dead. They do not move nor do they speak or look or hear. They looked as if they were bewitched into stone beings by some evil witch. »
Being a messenger, the short-story writer should find a receptive public for his text. For this reason, he keeps moving from world to world seeking interactive readers. There were, first, the trees proud of having stories written on their leaves; there was also that smart snake which never gets tired of listening to stories and asking for more stories; there were equally birds coming from afar to read their experiences immortalized in beautifully narrative texts… But only the loving female remains the really good reader freeing herself from her bad fate and setting free the short-story writer from his alienation.
I)- Mouna Ouafiq’s ‘‘Grenade-Man’’:
‘‘Grenade-Man’’ is quite different from the remaining texts of ‘‘The Dreaming Anthology’’. It is totally reversed as the narrator ‘‘dreams’’ when he ‘‘wakes up’’:
« I woke up to dream an astonishing dream ».
The text chases the flow of Life Force all along the text, making use of a very functionally artistic device, ‘‘Re-incarnation’’, making the dream/text returning eternally to the very beginning: The death of the marginal character in that balcony between cats with a grenade stamped on his neck is resurrected in this balcony in a new body looking for a new band of cats to accompany him in a quite clear message : Exclusion, seclusion and marginalisation never kill the beautiful spirits yearning to live…
J)-Abdennour Driss’s ‘‘Shehrayar’s Dream’’:
‘‘Shehrayar’s Dream’’ is a poetic text, par excellence. Because of the irrelevance of denotative language and the centrality of despair which necessitates a language as ambiguous as the catastrophic fate of the central character wandering all along the sequences of the text, dreaming of having a baby boy to get him out of his existential labyrinth (his illusory, labyrinthine virility and heroism) and set his wives from their maze (the maze of absolute passivity and belonging to the ‘‘shameful’’ gender) :
« Cursed is he who gives birth to females! »
K)-Malika Moustasaf’s ‘‘A Space For An Impossible Dream’’ :
When reality turns more severe, dream becomes the only refuge to keep one’s mental and psychological balance, however, when dream itself turns impossible, the impasse is worth the title ‘‘A Space For An Impossible Dream’’.
The text, ‘‘A Space For An Impossible Dream’’, reflects the altered balance between the ideal order and the established order where reigns unemployment, unfit habitation, sexual deprivation and the impossibility of a better life in a better place… The result is ‘‘the vicious circle’’ that the text formally embodies beginning and ending with the same paragraph, drawing a circular prison for all the characters:
« He went out , loudly insulting everybody starting with his old parents who were at the source of his existence in this wretched world and ending with his sister who got married to an old French man and travelled away with him…».
L)- Abdelouahid Kafih’s « Bomb » :
« It is all over, now. The faces that have dreamt for such a long time to change the world have disappeared. The period of detention that he has counted minute after minute and second after second is over now. » These are the first sentences in Abdelouahid Kafih’s « Bomb » restricting “the dream of changing the world” in the period of “Detention” in the jail space and culture where Dream and Hope are important only to keep alive.
From the very beginning, the ideal order was declared to be down, leaving space for the established order to dominate the whole events of the text intensifying the feeling of narrator’s alienation among bastards in his own home:
«It’s all the same, Rabbit. Whether present or absent, husbands are not necessary for their wives’ pregnancy».
L)- Faouzi Boukhris’s «Nightmare» :
«Nightmare» focuses on an internal feeling of absolute boredom due to the fatal trivialities taking place in the outside world. Thus, in the heart of the absolute banality and the general boredom, no-one among the characters in the text can take the lead and narrate the story. To fill the void, there must be an independent narrator who would not only narrate the story but also to describe for either characters or readers their own thoughts and feelings making use of the second-person pronoun “you” as long as the whole life is numb or dull in the realm of Boredom.
The narrator makes use of the second-person pronoun “you” to address himself to either characters or readers whose senses have grown dull with deadly repetitive routine in their daily lives until they find it impossible to dream. Even at the doorstep of dream, the narrator stands up to depict “for you” the “form” of the dream, deliberately skipping its “content”:
« Suddenly, you feel something monstrously heavy lying on your chest paralyzing your entire being. You cannot do the slightest movement. You feel suffocated. You gather all your strengths and try to stand up and get rid of the monstrous body but in vain… You fall down helpless. You breathe with great difficulty, feeling that you are breathing the ultimate oxygen atom into your lungs... »
M)- Abdoullah Al-Mouttaqi’s « Rebellious Dreams » :
Fiction narration with the first-person pronoun “I” denies the reader his neutrality and objectivity while using the third-person pronoun “He/She/It” makes it possible to keep distance and judge the course of things objectively.
Since every narrative pronoun (Be it first or second or third pronoun) has its own communicative and narrative function, dream narration is better conveyed through the use of the first-person pronoun “I”. However, in his “Rebellious Dreams”, Abdoullah Al-Mouttaqi opposes the tradition preferring detached narration to intimate confession, making use of the omniscient viewpoint (the third-person pronoun “He”) in order to make the reader believe that the story is taking place for other characters in other places in other times… Before all reader’s convictions are reversed by the end of the text, all at once:
«The cock’s beak did not find the laughing sun. The hen’s found nothing but white lice. The chicks are still busy playing. The wife is hanging the washing on to dry whereas the husband is … scribbling this short story. »
Only at the end of the text does the reader come to know that the whole text has been narrated in the first-person pronoun “I” and that the original narrator is no other than the central character, the cheated husband, who is caught finally in the act of scribbling the very short story.
N)- Mouna Ben Haddou’s « For Everybody His Own Hell » :
“For Everybody His Own Hell”, from the title, shows a universal justice devoted to give, on equal terms, everybody his due share of unhappiness. Considering that Hell is everybody’s ration, dream is doomed to have its share of hell, too; so is sobriety in a way that makes the whole existence seem a continuous nightmare…
On this basis, “For Everybody His Own Hell” has been weaved controlling the progression of the story with two threads: the first one is concerned with dreaming about a girlfriend getting ready to commit suicide; and the second one hangs in the air where the suicidal act is definitely fulfilled:
« Some tender hands have shaken me out of my nightmare. I looked up to find my girlfriend’s mother asking me about her daughter who had been sitting next to me watching ‘For Everybody His Own Hell!’, the film.
I was so absorbed by the events of the film that I did not notice her withdrawal. My eyes were automatically directed to the door opening on the stair-cases swirling up to Hell. The mother’s eyes followed my eyes’ movements and in no time she was hysterically climbing up the stairs. »
O)- Mohamed Zitoune’s « Castle Incense » :
In « Castle Incense » , the last text in ‘‘The Moroccan Dream: Anthology of Moroccan new short story”, incense as an aesthetic device is wonderfully handled to match the overwhelming mystery in the text in such a way that no-one can see across the intense incense and have access to Truth for the sake of which the whole caravan in the story has started its journey, making of the narrator the aim of the journey and the centre of the text although he, himself, knows nothing about the events around nor does he know the goal of the caravan nor even can he distinguish his presence from his absence:
« Whom are they celebrating their rituals for while I am away. »
Omission and poetry have doubled the density of ambiguity encircling the nature and destiny of the central character but the title of the caravan “Bouya Omar”, one of the traditional curing centres in Morocco where lunatics are jailed and tamed, affirms the narrator’s madness and expects from this journey his deliverance of his hallucinations and nightmares in order to come back again to his group’s culture and meet his relatives’ expectations.
“The Moroccan Dream” embodies the plurality of the Moroccan narrative dream starting from vision to day-dream to illusion to nightmare to madness. A plurality paralleled by a diversity of viewpoints and narrative techniques used to conform to the subject of the narrative message: prophecy, propaganda, alienation, despair, madness…
The common target of “The Moroccan Dream” texts was the yearning to Unity: the unity of Form and Content, Surface and Essence, outer self and deeper self… The yearning to Deliverance, which will remain forever the dream of all dreams: The greatest dream of all.
Mohamed Saїd Raїhani
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
<meta name="description" content="Moroccan writer Mohamed Saïd Raïhani, Mohamed Said Raihani, e-home of new Moroccan fiction, WAITING FOR THE MORNING, THE SEASON OF MIGRATION TO ANYWHERE, DEATH OF THE AUTHOR, THUS SPOKE SANTA LUGAR-VERDE">
<meta name="keywords" content="literature, short story, writing, creation, literary text, narrative text, narration, narrativity, narratology, collection of short stories, story book, WAITING FOR THE MORNING, THE SEASON OF MIGRATION TO ANYWHERE, DEATH OF THE AUTHOR, THUS SPOKE SANTA LUGAR-VERDE">