Mohamed Saïd Raïhani’s Website
A CROW'S TALK
(A Short Story)
On stepping into this farm, a strange Feeling will invade you and you will wonder:
- “Have I forgotten any of my painting tools or is it a mere presentiment of oblivion?”
You will inspect your bag thoroughly only to find out that everything is all right. Yet, the strange feeling will accompany you as long as you pace forwards between the lines of the orange-trees standing in two rows at both sides of the farm-entrance drawing out for your eyes a one-way direction.
The strange feeling will possess you and suddenly will come out of your memory your grand-fathers’ tales on old-time peoples who acted badly and were metamorphosed crows, monkeys and pigs.
Space of Death :
The farm-owner will stand still, right at the end of the path, waiting for you with his hand stretched out for a handshake telling you:
-“I learnt, yesterday, that the Beaux-Arts Academy had delivered its students in artistic missions on several farms in the province...”
-“You are unlucky...”
When you take no notice of the hint, he will add:
-“I, myself, love painting but I prefer still life as it is void of action. Action is suffering. And man, by nature, hates suffering. That's why Art has to be beautiful, optimistic and pleasant...”
Space of Creation :
You will put up your stand, take your tools out of your paint-box in readiness for work and sit down to arrange colours on the plate.
Will you, then, have a glance at him to see how ang –ry –he –is! Yet, he will fake a smile, saying:
-“Please, make yourself at home!”
Space of silence :
Landscape before your eyes will be silent, dead... Yet, the view seems beautifully balanced and well-framed: Trees at both edges of the tableau will serve as a natural frame with that mule stuck in the near background over-loaded with burdens. Very far away behind the mule, fetlock-shackled bulls are grazing in the pasture. A farm slave will go as far as the remote background of the tableau to pick out the strongest bull out of the cattle and draw it along by the corns. The slave and the bull are heading one after the other towards the foreground of the tableau...
The bull will follow the slave obediently not knowing the fate drawn for him around the log erected in the foreground, before you, waiting for the following...
Space of order :
Here, you will hear nothing but order nor will you see anything but obedience:
-“What are you waiting for, man? Come on! Do it!...”
-“At your wishes, sir!” will the castrator's answer, jumping right away on the bull.
That is commonly known here as "Order", the lord's. It is an instruction from the highest source in the farm, a Herculean man owning land, bulls, mules and slaves whom he has inherited strong and castrated from his glorious ancestors.
Yet, despite the heavy heritage and the ancestors' heavy shade, the lord's innovative attempts in interpretation drove him further to the point of contradicting the ancestry-line in an essential point: he, occasionally would redeem a slave with the intention of asking God’s forgiveness for his having sinned in Ramadan by making love to one of the women of his harem.
But the majority of the released slaves would come back again and again to this farm refusing the freedom they have not asked for, yearning nostalgically for their past life of obedience and castration.
Space of obedience :
The castrator will insert his two fingers deep in the bull's nostrils to twist his neck easily and throw him like a big corn sac down on the ground. He will steal the bull's testicles from between his thighs, smear them with grease and lay them carefully on the log in the middle of the tableau.
The lord will notify the castrator:
- I want a strong bull. A bull that can plough the fields all alone and keep water-mills working on his own.... As for the virile bull, my cows will need him for one short minute in a long year and then I may borrow him or even rent him.
Space of noise :
The bull will remain lying around his guillotine, snoring out of vertigo before the wooden bat should split his testicles in two separate halves:
The bull, shackled, will roll about, kick in all directions, scream, shriek, shrill, howl, and bark as if he has never been a bull:
The bull's torment will deserve no interest from the mule stuck in the same old place, overloaded with the same old burdens, grinding corn out of a bag hanging down from around his neck, careless of pain and screams....
Space of metamorphosis :
You will have a look at the tableau before your eyes to find it, after all the violence and chaos that have been taking place nearby, devoid of any action. A mere still life: Orange-trees on both edges of the board framing the void which was, just a few moments ago, echoing pain and rage... And you will wonder:
-“What happened to my painting?!”
Then, you take notice of the paint brushes on the ground, between your feet: broken to pieces, crushed to powder... And you will wonder:
-“What happened to my brushes?!”
Then, you remember your hands and you feel them:
Are they paralyzed?!
Are they another man’s?
None of that is of importance. What you will have to know is that metamorphosis is now eating you and that you are undergoing the last finishing touches to allow you join our club "History’s metamorphosed”. So, welcome among us, Dear Newcomer, in any shape you wish: A walking pig or a flying crow.
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