The Hundred Years War
(If you find out « Mômmanh », « existence », « need of existence », please go to chapiter 2 to learn more...)
Imagine that you are an aeronautical pioneer and that your plane broke down in an unknown place in the desert about which you don't know anything. You have only one chance of surviving: walk in what you believe to be a good direction for a long time because you have not found any help, till the hypothetical. As long as that moment did not arrive, are you on the verge of crossing the desert?... or rather to live your last days?... How are you to know?...
“Be silent and walk!”
Here is what type of universe we had to look for on our way, at the same time so close one to the other and so distant that the despair of never finding us was taking the upper hand. And above all, it was necessary that the land opened itself beneath us: then we realised at last that we were taking a false route.
If you have to, even you must undertake a crossing of the desert like the lovers do too frequently for life, get going and offer to your beloved that present fruit of your sorrow, more precious than the viaticum: some beacons to find your way.
If you have had them, our dear Estelle would continue to invent her existences, like the living do, instead of being already nothing else but a fossilised intellect, as brilliant as the precious flame which we carry with fervour before she is reduced, like all this, to an unchangeable being as much as tiny links of the future inventions of life, faint ghostly kisses of which the people of the future will ask perhaps from where could it come.
How nature and culture are sometimes conflicting.
Ah yes we do not know even what is love! Those who are not keen on that! Since Mômmanh has generously guided us with the dispositions for that art, it should have been easy to arrive there just only by following our instincts. But no! It would have been too simple! Because you know well that men have many times to struggle hard to correct those natural inclinations. They have persevered to such an extent to suffocate the love which we tried so hard to discover. That which Nature did, Culture has nearly succeeded in destroying.
In brief, like Romeo and Juliet, whatever we know about the subject of love, is that it can be marvellous: behold that it is not bad, already. But we have not learned neither why nor how. For Romeo and Juliet, the ignorance was without importance since society made them die soon after their love at first sight. Since we did not have that chance, it is necessary for us to continue the adventure till its conclusion.
It was like a beautiful mare which we know how to ride for some promenades of which each was an exploration in the rich region. We could mount the mare, yes, but when she fell ill, we were incapable of taking care of it. And that happened to us too often. We were also not capable of feeding her every day.
Why must lovers have the same values, but not necessarily the same tastes?
You know that love is the fusion of two complementary existences. It first of all requires that the two lovers have values in common, to start with a common ideological stem.
If a man is too attached to his “myself - here - now”, all respecting the concern of perpetuity, his ideology will invent rules of life which evaluate the selfish pleasure. On the contrary, the man too attached to the existence distant from the ego will be too attached to the austere and altruistic rules of life. I believe that those two opposite models will find it difficult to unite in love, even if they share the same basic convictions. Like this, two Catholics, one too pious and charitable, the other thinks of nothing but the feast and the selfish pleasure: those two there do not dispose of a common ideological stem sufficiently strong to build a love.
And those who belong to the adverse ideologies? Even less.
Therefore, we suppose that our two lovers have a common ideological base large enough, a big basket of shared moral values.
The ideology is not all. There are other values which evade morality. They are, besides ideology, the things which count a lot in the existence of the individual, love for example, or football. And what else do I know ?...
It is good that lovers share also the values which are extraneous to morality. Otherwise, how can she accept it that he spends half of his time hunting and fishing ?
Therefore, some common, moral values besides others.
On that basis, it is necessary that one can offer to the other the elements of existence of which he dreams, and reciprocally. To do that, it is sometimes necessary that they have the same tastes. It is not necessary that one does not like to sleep with the window open and the other with the window closed because all their money will go to the glazier.
To simplify, I use the same word to denote two slightly different things: the tastes and the preferences. To love the detective novels, the apricot jam or the English national anthem, that takes taste. Liking to command, do the crockery, and drive the car that requires preference. Ah well, all that I love, I say that they are to my taste.
Same tastes: here is what seems a contradiction with what we stated previously. So ? Let us refine matters.
It is good sometimes that the tastes are different and some other times that they are identical, provided that they agree. It is good that one likes to cook, the other the cuisine, the other the potato peeling and the crockery, that one prefers the wing and the other the thigh. But it is wrong that one has cooked the thighs of the frogs when these cause the retches to the other, or still that both of them fight over the only little chick's brain.
Finally, it is necessary that their competences agree. To carry a too heavy table, they have to join forces. To prepare a trip, their know-hows must be complete: one will take care of the itinerary, the other one of the logistic, one will do the baggage while the other will prepare the car.
Let us suppose that they love music: one plays the violin, the other appreciates, criticises and applauds. And now they yearn to make a beautiful garden. It is very simple. They plan it together, without too much squabbling. Together they realise it: Oliver spades, to clear, reaps, refreshes his knowledge in horticulture... while Amelia studies the art of the gardens, plants, sows weeds, prunes... and the birds sing.
Oh ! I was going to forget the methods.
If the existential aims agree but the means to get there are in contradiction, there is the risk of a split-up. Like this, Alice and Jacques love their children; they want both of them to succeed. But to reach that aim, Alice believes only in blind discipline while for Jacques, absolute freedom also blind is sacred. So?...
What is the recipe of the great love ?
To summarise all that: values and existential common methods.
Sexes, tastes and complementary aptitudes.
This is the basic formula of the great love.
The sharing of roles arises from the last two categories. And it is there that our disagreement was most irreducible : each one of us wanted absolutely the role of the leader.
Remember : Jeanne took after her mother the belief that she was never to trust any man. It was necessary even to humiliate him from time to time to avoid him having the upper hand and at the same time be unable to satisfy his likings. Jeanne's mother, Paloma had meditated that matter for a long time : besides the cruelty and the injustice of which her dear father had endured, the man allowed himself easily to be demolished by all sorts of vices such as alcoholism, sexual perversions, gambling...
Why is that tendency of the freed oppressed to become oppressors ?
There is, following I don't know which liberation, that tendency of the beings recently freed to want to taste first of all whatever has been denied to them up till then. Carried away by the momentum of their triumphant struggle, they go as far as wanting to re-establish to their benefit the oppression of which they were victims. Like this you see the old slaves become slave traders, bourgeois of the French Revolution playing in their own turn the role of the lords which they had eliminated, and what else still?... Ah well, the ladies of our era, as soon as they have been freed, are tempted to do what had been prohibited : go to cafés, drive the bus... and order about. They are numerous to want to take the place of the male heads of the family which they have dethroned.
And all that. To him only that revolutionary momentum will lead to replace.
There is also the inevitable mistrust against the old “masters” the men. But this is not all.
When the citizens protest in the city streets to defend their beefsteaks or their ideal, foreign bodies infiltrate in their cortege, amateur fighters, robbers, looters, agitators. It is like this that women whose first concern is to fill their heads with their selfishness have boarded the brain with the feminists. And since our young era is dominated by selfishness, they are more and more numerous in leading astray the “struggle of the just”.
Now, remember, my Jeanne had anticipated the feminist revolution at full speed as usual. She had there a supplementary reason to demand the command of our galley.
On my part, I also had some solid reasons to cling to power as if it had been vital.
To start with, it was perceived as a duty, in the best village from where I came. One used to think that it was dangerous, and therefore unworthy of a man, to let his wife “wear the trousers”.
I wanted also to be able to do it, with all my strength, because the subconscious, in the wings, manipulated me like a puppet : you know well what the mistress of everything demanded of me, similar to God. And I was far from having sorted out the bag of knots in my soul.
Therefore, if I consented out of despair and of extreme justice to trust my life to a pilot of a plane or to a medical corp, I was incapable of abandoning the conduct of my existence to anybody, not even my love. Since the present intimate coffee pause or a dreary awakening beneath a dug out hut, as far as the most distant times in the past as in the future, since the immediate surrounding of our dining room till the borders of all the space was possible for me to see in my imagination, I scrutinized the universe and I asked it endlessly so that I could lead our boat there in a safe harbour in full security. Only I was truly gifted for that vital art.
Therefore, when there were not even two members in our family, my family had already two leaders. That was the origin of many scenes the arrival of which we soon learned to recognise, like the peasants feel the arrival of the storm which risks ruining their corn. But the signs of warning were often useless : the war of the leaders went as far as the conclusion.
The bickering took place many times a day, in ordinary times, and they developed often in relentless fighting. Fortunately, some truces, more or less long, opened the passage to other aspects of life, comprising there the happiness. That came when our will to command allowed itself to be forgotten.
Certain household scenes took some strange aspects, which hardly toned down their difficulty.
For example, when a disagreement between us began to degenerate, a gesture similar to cutting off with my hand followed by an outburst from my love announced the imminent storm, we used different arms to impose our will. To reduce to mercy my love, I used the gladiator's net while my beloved tried hard to knock me out with a mass of arms. I pretended that for each problem there existed a rational answer that was enough for us to discover together. She answered that as for that game, I gained more if I let go and that it was necessary to shorten the discussion. Therefore, while never endingly, I tried or believed to try to resolve the problem, she heaped her arguments on my head, as if she wanted to drive the message home by means of hammer blows. And it took me a long time to understand, it being so strange to my culture that she did not hesitate to lie cheekily.
Like this, when she wanted us to buy a new car, we had conversations of this type.
“- Your car is quite wheezy. Will it be able to go up the coast ?
And we stayed for some time to ignore each other in the worst manner as if we had been strangers, or else, we “sulked”. It is a familiar duel and yet quite strange when one inflicts mutually the suffering of being cut back with love, while hoping that the other is going to give in and comes to ask for pardon on his knees.
Several and several times, we have played another game just as wicked and extend the discussion indefinitely without even knowing what we were discussing.
At that stage, the aim is no longer to convince your dear opponent but only to be the last one to talk. To have the last word : for want of anything better, one will content himself with that poor result.
In order to win that miserable last word, Jeanne the rash did not beat about the bush : she put forward her truth and vanished soon afterwards.
How is it necessary to surpass the struggle for power within the couple.
Wanting the last word, and sulking: I suppose that those two objectives answer the same deep wish inscribed in our genes by Mômmanh. That wish will be set off by a deep disagreement and it will aim at obtaining the capitulation of the other. Each one of us waited for the hated loved one to execute the ritual of submission of the dog in front of its owner: to smoothen down, the head stretched out on the ground, his look attentive and imploring facing his master, waving his tail and emitting low groaning. When his lord orders him: “Hector ! On foot !”, he obeys immediately with joy. Ah well, to take only one example, giving up the last word and admitting that one is wrong, even against evidence that means: “you see, I am facing the ground and I see only with your eyes. Your judgement is mine, o lord!”
Because Mômmanh wrote down only the good answers in the genetic memory which directs our ego. If such was the case, our action will be all traced out and we will not need to look for our way in the fog. But she gave us conscience. It is therefore, up to us, to choose what will serve us better in our EXISTENCE.
At the beginning, we were capable of sulking for more than a week. And when that torture finished, we had gained nothing, neither one nor the other. Fortunately enough, we had the good sense early enough not to prolong uselessly that absurd situation. On my part, it was enough to learn to repel that temptation strongly: try to renew the contact by using a new approach, rational or “reasonable” for sure, about discord. According to the sacred expression, one did not have to put it back on the carpet which here I must call “ring”. One only had to abandon it hoping that, during some months as a minimum, it would no longer come to poison our love.
It was like this, that the topics of discord put aside were piling in the loft. We had to dispose of them one day because we were soon running out of space.
Besides the fact that at our house the barking is as exceptional as tactless, we have another difference with the dog : when that animal fails his master, he receives a good thrashing then he is submitted definitely. My beloved one like myself, no one wants to submit himself and we covered many places and many years, antlers entangled like some deer on the rut, breaking some crockery on the way and sowing consternation.
In that way, we also happened to do worse. Many times, without any necessity, with the sole aim to establish our power, we demanded from our love an annoying action for one in the same way as for the other.
It was on a grey winter Sunday. We were looking for a common activity for the afternoon: the cinema, a market in the discovery of nature, a game of scrabbles at our house, in the warmth, an art exhibition...
“- A football match, I said laughing, Saint-Hilaire plays against Saint-Denis.”
I have said to you that, one like the other, we did not feel any attraction for the spectacle of sports competition. That common indifference that “lack of taste” shared is only the thin subject of understanding, but we could have put it to our benefit, just the same.
“- Ah well, replied my love, it will be a Sunday unlike the others. Let us go and see it.”
And it is like this that for the first and last time in our married life a communal plot, at the bottom of a field opened to the four winds, we assisted for a battle more or less friendly between two rural teams. But why therefore had she inflicted that punishment?
“Ah! You know, my dear, it is necessary that I bother you a bit, otherwise you will be bored very quickly with me.”
One of her preferred methods of attack was anger, which, like a long blade, which should have removed all my resistances and rendered me submissive to the wishes of my well beloved. I did not believe that that manoeuvre was premeditated because, when she did not slip on the shell of false indifference which I erected by pressing my teeth, she obtained the opposite result expected: I thundered in my turn, brandishing my will against hers. I believe rather that she was tied to two genetic characters of my Jeanne: a great inclination for anger herself, and a great impulsivity.
How dangerous is anger.
Anger is a present which Mômmanh gave us to follow from our resources in certain difficult situations. But it renders one blind and deaf: it is because it is necessary above all not to make an intensive culture of it. As regards the impulsivity of which I have spoken to you about previously, it is like anger a beautiful gift from Mômmanh for which we pay too dearly sometimes.
An angry consequence of those character traits was the curious aptitude of my Jeanne to get jammed, like a rusty bolt inserted across in the trowel, so that, for her, nearly the blocking seemed inexplicable. Do you want an example? Ah well, here we go.
We had entrusted our children to their grandparents and both of us were leaving for our holidays, for about ten days. Faced with such a heavy responsibility, Jeanne's parents inspired us with a sense of total confidence. Moreover, they were very happy, perhaps even more than the small children. Therefore, we left without worrying.
We were happy, even, to find ourselves on our own to rediscover and pacify our souls, hoping well that our love, well strengthened, would grant us exquisite moments. In the frame of our personal war, the war of the leaders, we had led a series of long combats, as hard as well vain. Out of silent understanding, we had concluded a cease-fire on which we watched over carefully, in the same way one looks after the feeble flame of a candle from the slightest air current.
It was owing to Jeanne's lack of aptitude to “coincide” in the most inadequate moments.
Having left Vieuvy, by car of course, we were going to discover a new region, probably the Cévennes. We would savour in advance the emotions which that country would not fail to give us. If, as I am sure of, each man is capable of bringing at least a personal contribution to the banquet of life, by a stronger reason, a region, no matter which, will bring more: landscapes, houses, costumes, traditions which have been elaborated for a long time and matured by the generations who have formed a chain throughout the centuries, traditions nourished by alchemy of the region all like the good wine. Yes, on the way to those holidays there, we went humming, taking the time even to dawdle a bit.
I do not know at all in which way it started. We were taking part, I believe, in a discussion on the different types of behaviour regarding money. I evoked that type of spendthrift who, after spending all his money in a jiffy, tries hard to obtain that of his neighbours in order to continue to squander it.
“- You yourself, sometimes have this behaviour. You have exploited me, dear”, I said while laughing and in a tone which meant that I was indifferent to it. With regards to management of our revenue, we had reached an agreement which seemed satisfactory, and we did not have any quarrels on that matter for many months. Moreover, Jeanne's answer slammed in my head such a violent clap of thunder in a blue sky.
“-Ah yes! I am exploiting you!... You are making those detours to throw me that s... in my face. Dirty type! I hate you!
I had to leave Jeanne at the station. She snatched her bag from my hands and she advanced towards the entry hall with a quick step without turning back. Guess if I felt like leaving for my vacations.
I still believed, at that time, that she suffered much less than me when trouble arose in our couple. Otherwise, why would she have provoked such sorrow? That time I had to discover that it was nothing.
During more than an hour, I wandered in the streets of the city which I will not be able to indicate more clearly because I did not even try to know its name. I had a tough job to cogitate all my strength, trying to understand what had happened and, not getting anywhere, trying just the same to find good means to make it up with Jeanne, yes, I had tendered dangerously, one more time, my will of rationality, to make my brain burst, and the only tangible sign was a headache. And my steps took me towards the station. A miracle perhaps was going to save me, once more.
Jeanne was there, sitting at table in the terrace of a nearby café. She seemed frustrated, not touching even her half shandy. She looked sad, even desperate, to such a point that I advanced to take her in my arms to console her. And the miracle took place: she started to cry.
We took up again the route of our holidays. Our reconciliation was marked by our flesh.
However, I asked Jeanne for some explanations about her strange behaviour: that was allowed. Why did she get “stuck” like this, in an unforeseen manner, provoking suffering which was useless? She answered that it was stronger than her and that we had to live with it. It was up to me to be very careful about what I said, to reduce the risks. It was up to me also, at the moment when she was stupidly stuck, to come and set her free.
You may ask me what relation is there between Jeanne's curious handicap and her uncompromising will to be the leader of the family. Ah well, here you are. In her heart of hearts, Jeanne knew that she spent more than me and blamed herself for being unjust without being able to correct herself. Admitting that weakness was to endanger her stature as a leader, in the same way as a political leader who has stolen the public funds has to resign. Feeling her authority, on which she was keen above everything, threatened, Jeanne, impulsive, reacted immediately and violently. She used the heavy weapon which she had at hand: deprive me of love. And like a leader does not go back on his decision, she found herself “stuck” once more.
She thought : “That bloody macho, if I leave him in a suspicion of power, he would be at my throat. He can beat me, because he is stronger than I am.” Here is how a great impulsivity associated to that extreme suspicion leads her frequently to spark off measures of reprisals on the false alerts.
If she could differ her reaction, she would have had the time to see that I accepted that unequal sharing of our pocket-money and that her authority was not being undermined.
But Jeanne is impulsive: she pulls, she aims, and then she reflects. I have often asked her why she uselessly persevered to bring up the past: it is that in spite of everything she wants to avoid the blunders that she has committed by over speeding. Too late!
The impulsivity and the anger, those two presents which Mother Nature has put in her cradle provoking dangerous outbursts in the wars of leaders. When a conflict points his nasty muzzle, before we had the time to avoid it, they would have already led us in a whirlwind of rage and of hatred which reaches its peak soon bordering on a passionate drama or on rupture.
Yes, Jeanne is impulsive. Her response to stress is ten times more rapid than mine, granted that I have the opposite fault. The emotions which spark off the perception of her environment, I believe, not only do they come to her very quickly, but also that they are immediately more intense than with us, as if she has a filter lacking which we have. In any case, she cannot refrain from reacting quickly, before her ‘myself' could have opened its mouth to tell her to reflect first. It is like an impetuous torrent which carries her, helplessly, even when she sees me on the bank, still more perplexed than usual.
For example, a spot on the floor which evokes vaguely an enormous spider, that makes her immediately howl and jump. That weakness caused formerly the joy of our kids. When, delighted with the anticipation of the reaction which his mother would offer him, one of them had organized a practical joke of that type, invariably, she never failed to start again telling him: “Play on me another dirty trick : I will have a heart attack and perhaps I'll die of it!”
How the soul which is overcome by rationality looks for her compliment: a soul overcome by emotion.
Those emotions which are strong as they are immediate escape therefore the control of reflection. On the scale of evolution, they make my Jeanne tumble down by millions and millions of years till the times immemorial when Mômmanh started to invent intelligence. When there are no painful consequences, I like that handicap: it is comic, it undermines the authority of my well beloved, and above all, above all! ... It carries all the savour of the natural urges since no reflection could have rendered them tasteless. The reactions which it leads are purely emotional.
Emotional!... That was what I lacked most.
Ah yes! Remember, my f riend reader, that unknown madness which I contracted that I wanted absolutely, by way of rationality, to become God. I fought sufficiently against that illness to contain it, and however, I still have not sorted it out. Shall I ever manage? No, doubtlessly it is my burden and my banner.
When it seizes me, I reflect so much before acting that I lose all the faculty of answering to stress, without feeling any longer neither disgust, nor love nor hatred, torn between the imperial desire to be God and that to be again capable of loving.
So, when I am in front of a comic situation, the laughter is suffocated in me. Because it is not rational, to laugh! Fortunate enough!... Fortunate enough, the free and joyful laughter of Jeanne pushes itself down in my rusty throat and carries it away. Thanks love!
Yes Mômmanh made up in the horizon a picture to make you shout with joy, I do not feel anything. Because, you see, it is not rational, to shout with joy! And, what's more, without even knowing why!... But Jeanne is there who exclaims while clapping her hands, and the warmth of life permeates itself again.
Here is how, without my Jeanne, very often I shall miss the aroma of a good coffee, the pleasure of living a film which carries us away, the rupture of flying like an arrow with the insolent sparrow which perches in the pear tree. I would love the charm of the conversations with the creative, inventive, imaginative, more or less liars and manufacturers of projects and dreams of all sorts...
Since the emotions express themselves savagely in Jeanne, I have chased them away with my excessive behaviour. In the best of cases, when my circuits are not yet overheated to the point that I cannot deliver the slight information, I find myself facing the sketch of a painting which is rational of reality, and I do not know what to do. I have exchanged my nature against a computer, but a special computer which suffers for having lost its soul which pounded in him in his childhood years, when he was still human.
Curiously enough, during those crises, all the same quite completely a robot... No, because it is forbidden for me to taste the pleasure, I can quite completely appreciate pain. There is therefore something in me linked to good living: the toothache, the migraines and the irresistible need to cough.
It is like this that our handicaps are corrected mutually, on condition however that we fight them energetically: as a consequence they will destroy us. Jeanne appreciates that my imperial needs for reflection curb her many fleeting momentums which could be dangerous: I drink her exclamations, her laughter, her shouts, her enthusiasm, like a baby drinks the maternal milk because they generate my suffocating sensibility. It seems to me, that in that quite particular domain, the chances of meeting our loving compliment were minimal. Ah well, it is when it arrives all the same. Thanks. Thanks who?...
And behold that my chattering has not even led us astray since it has led us again to the deep cause of my determination to want to lead the family.
Like this, during that regrettable war of leaders, each one in his own way, was implacable. Did it take so much unhappiness that at the end we recognised that fact and accepted to find a solution for it? The carrot or the stick: it is true, alas, that quite often, it is the great kicking on the behind that make us advance rather than the perspective of a better existence.
Quite sure that we made great efforts to go out of that dead end: and more often, it was in vain. Did we need a human sacrifice to get out of it? Did it require our daughter's death she who had a promising future? Yes, in spite of the abolition of death sentences, that she died for sure!
Are the existential acquisitions of our life written in the memory of our gametes ?
Is it you, Mômmanh, who have had that cruelty?
I have already told you, that in our science-fiction game, in the model which I developed, Mômmanh is our old blind mother. The tiny fraction of herself which realises itself through me, I call it “my Mômmanh”. To satisfy her imperial appetite for existence, all along the billions of years which pass after the origin, she keeps in her memory the taste for that has done her good and the disgust for he who has done her wrong. But, incapable of conceiving the universe, she cannot do any projects. For that, she appeals to the prodigious brain which she has elaborated patiently: ours.
She is our old blind grandmother sitting at the corner of the fire. We relate to her all that we have seen. She rummages in her immense memory and tells us: “My child that is good : you must look for it. But be very careful ! That is bad : you must discard it.”
Being so small, we drink all the wisdom of our Mômmanh. Afterwards, it is as one goes along that our own tastes and disgusts are formed, and we listen to her advice less and less.
Fortunately, death comes to carry us adrift to that leeway. What in your life carries a big existential value looses the genetic code of our reproductive cells. Like this all the life which is worthwhile will leave two tiny messages in the ocean of existence: one in history, - cultural memory, the other in the genetic code, natural memory.
In those billions of billions of memories, our Mômmanh has selected for us two tendencies which sometimes are opposite, risking paralysing us: in our actions, we grant priority to altruism, that is to say to the triumph of life in general, but we have a strong preference for the pleasures of our own pile of flesh already rotten.
Priority for others, preference for our ego. In the case of a severe conflict between the two teachers, rather than giving up one's place, quite often, the satisfaction of the ego hides in the subconscious. So, one can bid farewell to the clear conscience !...
How does the purgation of our passions allow the fighting against our bad desires of the subconscious.
Ah well, each one of us had a bad gene particularly harmful hidden in the subconscious. And that demon was, for each of us, the principal responsible for our will - What am I saying? -, for our need to be head of the family.
And so? We only had to throw them out, those two bandits!
That walk which we evaded both of us although it seemed easy, it consists very simply in reliving the history of the incriminating behaviours, in a way to obtain a clear conscience of motivations which have inspired them. That operation is called the purgation of our passions.
It is not long and painful which if the selfish passion which one keeps a secret is truly very hard to overcome: for example, that of the murderer who cannot bear neither the contemptible look of his conscience nor the perspective of killing himself.
But our madness did not seem as tough.
In what concerns me, remember! I have already related how the vain pleasure of being always first at school had given birth to the monstrous demand which poisoned my existence: understanding everything to be a God. Since it was contrary to the generous morality instilled by my parents and by all my teachers, all I had to do was to conceal that monstrous swelling of my ego. When? In my subconscious, evidently, well hidden under a pile of virtuous principles.
And Jeanne ? Head of the family, till death! Why did she attach herself to that function and with such perseverance? Apparently, she had nothing too shameful to conceal. In which case, she did not even need the purgation of her passion. A simple historian would have been enough, as I have already said, to explain the origin of her despicable behaviour.
Therefore, the only effort should have consisted in discovering the antecedents which I have already related: how in her youth her mother had learned that she must not trust men, that you must command them and humiliate them from time to time, because they have a contemptible side. So, in order to wind off, it would have been enough that she lived with the principles which her mother had instilled in her, for sure, but without giving her the true justifications, like this we do it well quite often because it is more simple to teach and to learn some proved principles without however loading our poor heads with the long theory of explanations.
It was a good occasion for Jeanne to appeal to my passion to understand all: we could have observed together that those convictions as regards men were no longer justified in our age, neither much less, in our couple. Afterwards, always together, we could have discovered that the best solutions for our family seemed to be a reasonable sharing of power: “Down with the leaders! Long live democracy! And long live freedom!”
Instead of that, every time that I tried to take on that step, we had a conflict and it even happened that Jeanne was “stuck”. I understood that the subject was a taboo and I gave up. But what could that refusal conceal?
Like me, Jeanne had been born just before the “War”: I mean “Our War”, the 2nd World War. Because of the absences of fathers, we had remained only children for a long time. Like me, Jeanne was the first child of the new generation and she brought the hope of her clan. Surely, she was nothing but a girl. And so?... In the eyes of her mother as well as the other women of the Spanish branch, it was up to the women to take the future in their hands.
Like me, Jeanne was a flattered and even a spoilt child. She was the princess who was going to reign on the marvellous world following the misfortunes, a red princess, evidently. Nourished like this, her ego was inflated, all like mine. It was so good that she wanted ... ( No! “wanted” is too feeble. )... She demanded that it was always like this, that all her life, she was treated like a princess.
By which means? Thanks to her beauty, to her spirit, to her good communicative, to the charm of the conversation, all her assets which were worth to her humour, she believed, that she was a pampered child.
As far as her husband is concerned, it was understood that he had to satisfy all her whims.
Those demands of a spoilt child contradicted and whipped the equalitarian and generous principles of the communist morality: therefore it was necessary to hide them in the subconscious, under the oriflamme of the combats for the cause of the worker and that of women, afterwards, there was nothing else to do but forget them, free to act in the limits of their den.
Here is why Jeanne was strongly attracted as much as I at the demand of being leader of the family. We were both of us slaves of that evil plant which sprang during our childhood and, elsewhere, quite difficult to uproot. But, one more time, was the sacrifice of our child necessary to pull us out of there?
From hatred to excess of love, passing through the break-up of love:
how does the parents' love condition the character and the existence of the child.
The sacrifice of a child does not go necessarily to death. It is enough that his life is spoilt to the point that it is painful and futile. It is quite often, alas, the price which the handicaps of our genre pays, not to recover, only as a price for their illness. I explain myself.
You have not forgotten the six elements, all indispensable, which make up the human existence. One of the first, at the base, I have called it “link with the others”. Its most accomplished form is love.
When the child who arrives in this world received hatred by way of love, in return, he hates the one who hurts him. That hatred hits not only his parents, but all those similar to them, the other fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters: how can the baby make the distinction? Therefore, he hates all humanity. Depending on whether he is dominated by fear or not, his aggressivity towards the human species will be evident or masked.
When the child who wakes up to the existence receives only indifference, all his life he begs for love which he evades, becoming cruelly a fault. He risks strongly being stupid because his parents never answered his search for learning, not even when he wanted to learn to walk.
When a child comes to this world and receives the love which he needs, he develops well. From his parents seconded by the social surroundings around them, he receives the nourishment for the body and soul. When he is finally fully fledged, adult, he leaves his family to start living on his own.
But if he breaks down because of love prematurely, what will happen?
If his parents cease loving him too soon, when he is not yet capable to lead his existence alone, he will have a tough time to recover from that open wound. It is however what happens too often.
The source of love dries up when the parents dedicate such a lot of energy to fight one against the other that they forget the existence of their children. Or well when father and mother decide brutally not to live together any more and leaving the children to believe that they are no longer loved, left to themselves all naked to the tortures of the world.
We will find one of those children who grew up abandoned. The love of which he has been deprived prematurely, for a long time he has not found the trust in those he loves, that lost love he would want more of the lost love than the others, in the same way like he who, having suffered hunger, fears to be lacking and watches over a useless storage of food. There you are! There is the threat of war, the people no longer trust the networks of supplies and they start stocking some foodstuffs: ah well, the child of whom I am talking acts in the same way, quite reasonably.
But while waiting to be loved again, he has to survive.
The young one, discovering with terror that he cannot count on his parents finds himself like an abandoned fledgling, when he is incapable of flying. And, since he has been betrayed by his mother and his father, those two perfect human beings who represent all the others, he does not trust anyone. Surely, there is not always the death of a child, but at least great suffering the consequences of which can be heavy. At that age when he has not yet built up his defences, the worst can happen.
How a bad divorce can lead a child towards toxic mania.
Before he gets used to the weight of his punishment of chain and ball, and before he accepts to carry it all throughout his bloody days, he has to survive the pain of the first shock. Instead of the love which nourished his existence a living wound opens itself. An unbearable anxiety submerges it, such that he will not sort it out. The slightest aggressive impulses carry him away, and they leave him as desperate as before. The death, she assumes a soothing face, not to say f riendly. She has however a too definite character and, nearly always, he avoids suicide.
While waiting for a better life which will never come perhaps, he mistakes his existential anxiety, the hunger which Mômmanh knows, with false answers, illusions of happiness: drugs. That starts by some sweet things which make him put on weight, or any orgy, be it of electronic games, be it fictions made to evade, on a video as well as on films. If a solid love does not come along to change tendency, with the passing of years, the drugs will become harder and harder: cigarettes, alcohol, hashish, cocaine,...
You know that not every couple is allowed to adopt a child. The would-be parents must in the first place convince the administration of our country that they will be good parents, and that is not easy. So, don't you find it curious that the motherland does not have the same demands for the multitude of natural parents? Why is that the latter have all the freedom to wreck the existence of human beings?
Ah well, in the thick of the One Hundred Years war, during the truces we became anxious that we were bad parents. We had consulted some “psy” of all sorts, which we respect since they practiced honestly their job. If they could detect the dangerous animal at his job in our subconscious, they could perhaps lead us to neutralize it before one committed the irreparable. But you know well that one could not defeat the tuberculosis before the discoveries of Pasteur and Koch.
How even, with the purgation of the passions, the bad desires of the subconscious are difficult to fight against.
I have discovered Mômmanh however after our return from Africa, many years before the plunge in hell. Didn't I have to put in practise that promising discovery to deliver ourselves from the bad teachers, if they were concealed in the subconscious under piles of virtuous principles?
Alas, no. That has been impossible for me.
To start with, Mômmanh has never been completely revealed to me, perfect and all dressed up. . I had to bring her out little by little. And I have never finished. And now that we are going to work together, I do not believe that we shall ever finish.
On the other hand, if a wave of enthusiasm has surged in me at the moment of the first discovery, it has soon fallen down again. Around me, nobody has believed in it, not even Jeanne. Deeply disappointed, I have finished by finding that generalised scepticism legitimate and I have decided to doubt, even myself also, as much as I could.
“Around me, has anybody believed ?” How could I leave such an immense thing ? All close by me, so close, Estelle believed in it... If you please, leave me some minutes so that I get back on my feet...
So, we cannot use my knowledge of Mômmanh to put an end to our war. Besides, those bad teachers carpeted in the subconscious do not let me be. There are certain elements of myself with the same title as the good ones, those who live the big day. And like them, they are ourselves. It is necessary to have something terrible to lead them to surrender.
Let us leave the fatality running towards that odious accident... And let life carry on.
There were at least two supplementary handicaps which prevented us from progressing towards peace and reconstruction. It was my existence of never break “the sacred ties of marriage”, whatever happened : I will speak to you later on. It was also the malign characteristic of another need which you already know : that of being the leader.
How men have always known how to find recipes not to be slaves of their desires.
You know, that if the desire as well as the will can be beneficial, the need is always bad.
To start with, by nature, she is never satisfied, since perfection is not human. There follows that she makes slaves of us, obliging us to dedicate vainly a lot of energy instead of realising other aspects of existence. For example, let us suppose that I absolutely want to be a big star ; I have to dedicate a lot of efforts, I will not obtain even the certainty that the crowds will not give me their backs to adulate somebody else. So, slave of that need, I will have no other choice but to dedicate to it all my time without being satisfied.
If we don't manage to uproot the needs, as one does to the weeds, they choke out life and render it sterile.
And during that time, our old Mômmanh, blind, paralysed and impotent, stays at the bottom of the house in an armchair. We, on the doorstep, we are at times her eyes and her hands open on the vast world. She needs us. Let us not leave a need, whichever it may be, bring us the living death.
For a long time men have found the means to deliver themselves from those needs. Humour is one of them. There is also the absence of desire of the Buddhists, the emptiness in oneself of many o riental philosophies, the acceptance of destiny of the Greeks and the Muslims... I also have my recipe, but I will not tell it to you: now that you know Mômmanh, you will know how to find yours.
Besides the slavery linked to all the need, that leadership war hindered us in another manner. She tended to reduce each one of us to his own limits which, in addition, are situated often close to the ego, when we should have made love yield its fruit by enriching us mutually. I explain myself.
Like a leader, each one of us asked sometimes for an advice to the other, but in the same way in which the king takes advice which does not oblige him at all to be aware of his mistakes. While now, having abolished the statute of leader in our family, it is necessary that we submit our wishes to the judgement of the other, whether that pleases us or not.
How love renders us better and stronger.
Like this, we are compelled to discuss it all over again. When our behaviours are contrary, together we do the investigation of which I will give you an example. There are some chances when we find more rational answers to a problem of our life. The existence gains in quality.
She earns more than in another manner. By renouncing to be leaders, we try to make our objectives agree. By definition, that agreement can only be made to the benefit of the two “myself”. Therefore, it was necessary to pull ourselves from selfishness and altruism which profited from it to gain ground.
Love makes us better.
We observe the consequences of our way of acting. If it is necessary, we will search for the origins. Together, we reflect in order to find something better. Most often, we manage to understand ourselves: love renders us stronger.
In the dark forest which stretches since the origins, we look for our way. Are there any marshes? Some precipices ? Where are our friends? Our enemies ? Where do we step to reach our house in heaven ? Our two intellects combined are two lamps probing in the darkness.
“- Light here, Georges. Is it not a beautiful asphalted road ? It will definitely lead us somewhere. - Surely no, dear. It is only a bad reflection on water. - And here ? - Oh no, it is an abyss. - What abyss Jeanne ? You are hallucinating. There is only a beautiful cherry tree, there. My cherry tree !... Famous ! The Cherries ! Do you want to taste ? - Surely no. Don't you know that the brambles conceal a great fault? You go down there to pick the cherries and the abyss swallows you. Farewell, my dear... Let us go !... Wake up, good blood ! - You must be right Jeanne... They were however excellent, those beautiful cherries.”
You know about the human tendency to favour his dear ego when the table of existence at the present finds itself abundantly decorated with juicy dishes. Hemm !... Ah well, the temptation of serving his “Myself-Here-Now” in the first place is quite strong in the leader, because he has only his conscience to oppose to it. There are no reasons why the contrary powers are necessary.
Now that there is no longer any leader in our love, we are better armed to escape from that trap. If one of our two egos exaggerates, the other one says : “And myself ?... And myself?...”. In the silence which follows, one can then hear the distant voice of Mômmanh : “My children, my children, don't forget above all that first of all you have to watch over me, through lack of which you will die.” And, from that transitory discord, we will go out even better than before.
A very tiny grain of dust laid astray in the infinite billions of billions of stars which fill the universe, the earth is our garden. Myself all alone, like every one of the six billions of human beings still alive, I feel the owner of all that. Death is a necessary evil which is going to take away all the good things of which I am capable of considering under various aspects, be it is only a thought. Since I must fade out, it is necessary that I leave them as heritage. At least, take good care of them.
How does the transition from selfishness to altruism function?
Have you calculated the measure of selfishness? Ah well, n : it is worse than that. I wish that all that would be given to me, and for ever, instantly: “Myself-Here-Now-eternal and Infinite”. And my Jeanne, do you think she is worth better?... And you yourself, have you looked after yourself well?...
I must give an important precision and so much the worst if I have already done it. The track which leads from “myself-here-now” to “others-elsewhere-in time”, that way does not follow a regular slope. It goes up like an escalator, in stages. Every stage interrupts the escalation so that the “myself” is satisfied at the level of which the altruism suffered from.
For example, the search for posterity is an altruistic movement since it distances the “now” to go towards other times. But since it interests itself only in personal celebrity, it remains on the selfish stage. If I associate my children to that celebrity, I go up only one step, because my children are still too close to the “myself”. And so on and so forth.
My Jeanne and Myself, we look in our earthly garden for somewhere to construct our house. It happens that My Love says:
“- It is my house and only mine and you are my slave dear. - I do not like my role not at all: I am incapable of keeping it. Your own, on the contrary, tempts me a lot. Ah well ! Let us invert it. - Are you mad, dear? I would be too ashamed...”
There goes Mômmanh with her grain of salt.
“- Oh no ! You have recovered now, and the One Hundred Years War is over. Have you already forgotten everything? - Oh! No! - You have killed your child. The little existence you have left is in your hands. - Oh no! Mômmanh! Stop! I beg of you, stop! - Each of you dream of a love where the beloved one will be his slave: you wish that your children will be enslaved? If you please, Mômmanh, stop! - You! You, to whom I have given such beautiful eyes, look, look in that jumble which is the jungle of life; look for something with which to construct a quite solid house where one can always feel the beauty of it. Didn't you tell me that certain slaves are hardly suitable for that type of task? - It is true, Mômmanh. But to construct that arch of eternal life over the billions of years and the billions of stars of the universe in expansion, shall we be all alone? - It is your problem. I have made you so intelligent that you will end up by finding such a thing. In any case, I want all the family to have a place in my arch. - Your arch? Your arch !... - Yes, surely... - It is mine as well. It belongs to Jeanne just as much. Have you forgotten that each one of us is the conscience which is lacking in you cruelly? Not only your conscience has burst out between the billions of individuals, but it does not belong to you. - Oh goodness me ! Here it is again, and there it is again the man who built himself up on his own. Each of your billions of ego is a fraction of the myself-even. What a misfortune if you lose me : it will be your definite death. - Excuse me, Mômmanh. It is my delirium to want to be God which is overwhelming me. Ah well, it is understood : we will make the entire world ascend in your arch, even the dirty ones, the ugly and the good for nothing. - Your Estelle will have a good place there, with Mistinguette... In the company of her parents and her brothers, quite sure. And your house... - It is a symbol ! - I know !... Now that you finally have learned how to love, you will find on that earth materials of life which are suitable to you both. Besides, it is time to open widely to your friends that damned house to “Myself All Alone”
Therefore, besides the offence of common slavery for all the needs, that of being the leader had another vice: it favoured our selfishness. And then it had still another fault besides this one.
It was necessary above all, for the outcome of a confrontation that the other one may believe to be victorious. Therefore, the negotiations as well as the concessions were exceptional.
There was, remember, in your tastes, some undetermined incompatibility on which we made a dead end at the moment of marriage, thinking that our love will easily come to an end. It should have been possible at least to start to change them in harmony, those minor differences of opinion : we managed well, now. Instead of that, our need to be able with its big chain loaded with three balls and chains was enclosing us in war. At any moment, in any place, if we were not on the verge of confronting us like the deer on heat, we were always in danger of doing it.
The principle of the difference of opinion led to the money. It is true that who disposes of money keeps a big part of the power and of freedom. Jeanne had understood that lesson from her mother : “You must absolutely earn your living, my girl. And when you are married, above all ! Above all ! Take care of your job and don't leave it as long as your retirement is not assured. Because, if your husband is unbearable you can always leave him. And if it is he who annoys you, you and your children, will never live in misery. In a household, a woman without revenue is a slave, kicked by man. While you, with your wage, you do not have to work so hard. You can always keep yourself straight, and says... when it suits you...”
Yes ! Jeanne had completely abided by her mother's opinion. And like her mother kept severely the strings of her purse in her own hearth, Jeanne wanted also to manage our budget. She left me enough money in my pocket. But my firm intention was the exact opposite of hers: to her the pocket money, to me the responsibility of hoarding. We were both of us equally decided...
Fire !... Fire from all batteries !... The war was raging while the children hurried to empty their plate to get out of the battle field and to go about on their business. Were they hoping to see our disputes and the household scenes over one day ? As much as I can remember, they never said anything about it. Perhaps they had tried to obtain the ceasing of hostilities, then they renounced. They seemed to accept that misfortune in the same way as the bad weather : they could not do anything about it, it was necessary that they had their own life. He prevents only the storms accompanied by hail or showers, in the same way as the long days of the frozen north wind were too frequent, to the point of upsetting dangerously the development of our dear little ones.
The warnings were not lacking however. Hold on, here is one which I remember. It took place a short time after our return from Africa, when we had just settled in out new house, at Futaie.
We were all seated in the kitchen, for the midday meal. It was a holiday, and we should have relaxed. Instead of that, a violent quarrel burst out because of a cupboard the price of which seemed very high. Their nose in their plate, our children were eating as quickly as possible. It is Pablo who came out first, to come quickly to announce to us calmly:
“- The house is on fire.
An inflamed log had fallen from the chimney, setting on fire the canvas which covered the sitting room. The flame was going up joyfully along the wall and started to lick the leathered pine panel which covered the ceiling. Some more seconds yet and the fire would be out of control, devouring the whole house. Quickly, we brought some buckets of water, and that was enough to stop the fire.
So we realised.
“- Ah well my dear, it was a near miss.
Our two ways in managing the family budget were absolutely incompatible. I tried hard to save up the money I accumulated patiently when she did all that was possible to manage to waste them : one filled the barrel while the other emptied it. I wanted to invest the money to make it yield more to increase our wealth. Consequently, I accepted to buy only in cash. Jeanne, on the contrary, always impatient, wanted to borrow, even if it meant falling headlong in the first pot of a money lender without scruples.
In most cases, these behaviours at times antagonists and irrational had cultural origins. We had learned them during our childhood.
Formerly, in the green countryside of the past, it was strictly recommended to save, be it to buy land, be it with the hope of finding a bigger farm to “make yourself worth” and buy the necessary equipment. My father loved to repeat : “Penny by penny, one accumulates a whole bagful.” (Little by little, one accumulates a treasure). There existed another saying as regards money: “You have to put aside something for a rainy day.” In fact, the peasants of the past were not protected by any form of assurance, not even by the pension neither by Social Security. The consequence of all that were the relationship of peasants and money which had been instilled in my soul as a child.
Jeanne had grown up in the city, more precisely in the big city, which was managing to escape the influences of the countryside. The attempts to borrow, provided that it was within reasonable credit, were approved. One used to consider that practice as a sign of modern life, like an act of civilisation, since it was supposed to favour the business and the economic development: “that helped the flowing of business” one said.
Moreover, in her family they admired the beautiful good things which only the bourgeoisie could buy. They had the conviction that whatever was expensive was valuable while the bargains were good to throw away.
To those city and family wombs which expressed themselves in the behaviour of Jeanne vis-à-vis the money, one had to add other influences : the impulsivity with its emotional charge which pushes into action and, successfully and more cunning, lying in wait in the subconscious, a secret selfishness of a spoilt child who went out for some air from time to time and of which I will speak to you soon.
Starting with my peasant childhood, without being stingy, I had cultivated an excessive attachment to money. On one part, I was very keen on keeping permanently an important money-box and that was not for the pleasure of contemplating my gold, but to be able to face certain hazards of life, a catastrophe, unemployment... without which the bailiff would come to skin us before leaving us on straw. My Love and Myself, sat our eyes on that box: Jeanne tried a means to empty it without much noise, and I asked myself how to protect it. That precaution is good. How many refugees, in our marvellous twentieth century world owe their life to them ? But let us take into account the different assurances which protect us, even the negotiable value contained in jewels and family heirlooms; it is not desirable to make up a very important money box.
I suffered also a more perverse attachment to money, which would have led me to eat till the last mouthful of half rotten chicken, because I had paid for it. Fortunately, Jeanne did not let me be: she herself did not seem to feel any pain while getting rid of a new and an expensive dress and the only flaw of which was not to render her more beautiful.
That very failing led me to buy very often objects or services of very bad quality and this after several hesitations and endless regrets. Jeanne bought the highest quality at a higher price. Her fear was not to squander money, but to come across suddenly a more beautiful object. By buying the most expensive, she thought she was safeguarding herself against that risk, and also against that of seeing unfolding itself, but too late, a latent defect.
Jeanne was enchained to that imperative : it was absolutely necessary for her to buy the best and the most beautiful : so, she was never satisfied. How often did she throw away expensive objects because of the idea that there might be better, wake her up in the night! As far as I am concerned, I carried that ball and chain: wanting at all cost, provided it was free, to obtain an incredible quantity of richness with our modest salaries. And I was never happy. I too have thrown money from the window under the form of bargains which their bad quality rendered useless.
Our ration of life is quite short : however, running obstinately the impossible, we have squandered in that way a good part.
We have discovered those two needs which are poisoning our lives, after the accident. And we found still a lot of them. The worst of all, the deadly one, the reciprocal need to be the head of the family was far from being the only one. There was also surely my mad need to understand everything and I had started to loosen the grip. There were still many others of them, more or less strong, often intermittent. And behold some in a jumble: needs of consideration, of youth, of beauty, of consideration, of security, of life... We had learned to contain them by saying: “So much the worse, what escapes me, the others will obtain.”, then to replace “I demand” by “I wish” every time that it is possible.
As you have seen, our two ways of managing money had their origin from a big number of different roots: we were not capable of pulling them out, then put some others of them on the ground. In spite of everything, love has succeeded its alchemy : the opposing and absurd behaviours, often pitiful, have been changed into bursts of happiness.
From now on, we did not have any conflicts any more as regards money, at the most disagreements which dwindled down very quickly. But we could not agree on a common management of our belongings. Besides, is it desirable ?
Our way of managing things was very simple. We divided in two the overall resources. After the discussions, which could be passionate, came close to the storm, we agreed about mutual expenses which we also shared. There remains so to each of us about half of his part with which he did what he liked.
Now, at last ! We know how to use our revenues to the best of our possibilities, not only without suffering, but with pleasure. And the worries tied to money do not weight any longer on our existences. Ah well, if each of us did not remain by his side, clinging to the will to be leader of the family, we could together come to the bottom of that difference like the majority of the others, before the tragedy.
But let us come back there where we had arrived, rightly, before the horror. While waiting for the stress of a real death to come to pull us out of our selfish passions which were only death in all its power, the fight of the leaders was going towards a crisis. As soon as we had just seen it, all the questioning of our ways of living stopped and threatened to make the “War of a Hundred Years, last vainly for such a long time that we would not be able to bear it. Our house was the usual battlefield. Sometimes we broke objects, preferably fragile, generating noises, not too dear : some plates or some vases broken on the tiles doing the job well. Without bringing peace, they relieved us just the same from an excess of rage.
We would have wanted our children not to suffer from our war, but we never managed. We imagined naively the holidays, outside our times of constraint, like a moment of happiness when, all together would have tasted the fruit of our efforts and, our burdens laid down for two months, we could all go to discover leisure which is on the other side of hatred. Think therefore ! Far from being a truce, our holidays were the moments of our worst confrontations.
Ah yes ! Life in common was no longer in time partial, like in a period of work. And above all, we were free from the constraints of the job, free at last!... Free to impose our own constraints to the love of our life, free to fight till the overthrow of our dear opponent.
We had all the time to finally settle our conflict once and for all, and we were proceeding strongly the first days. Like this we managed to ruin two weeks of our happy freedom.
The end of the fighting was not at all in sight. Besides, why should they have stopped ? On the contrary, the confrontation was increasing, without other pause except for the tormented sleep. But, after about fifteen days, we were quite weary and the conflicts seemed to us temporarily without solution. We did not want, any more, to continue to make the children suffer knowing that it was in vain. By means of a tacit agreement, we decided therefore on a truce for the holidays.
It was only a ceasefire, a simple respite therefore, in the war which would achieve a result surely, one day or another, to the resolution of our conflict, an improbable outcome about which we continued in spite of everything to dream. While waiting, to save the rest of the holidays, each one camped on his positions.
In the presence of one or the other, we had the approach of the people who advanced on mined land. A long and painful experience had revealed nearly all the sensitive points of the opponent. It was necessary to avoid brushing against the detonation, because of which the explosion would take place and start again the hostilities. We had become experts in that art to such a point that our walk was no longer affected. We had the appearance of a successful couple, without problems, with a dubious character. But in spite of everything, an explosion tore apart from time to time the fragile peace : at a price of a big effort, we managed to sheath our arms before the war set us on fire again.
I remember particularly a long holiday trip which started in that way. Estelle was perhaps eight or nine years old. With our three children, in the car, we were going to visit Greece. On the way, we had to visit plenty of places in Yugoslavia.
At that time, we were full of admiration for that country. It had pushed back by itself the Nazis. Its rebellious communism seemed promising; finally, and perhaps it was the most important, it managed to let one live in harmony, it seemed to us, a good ten races very different from the ancestral hatreds which had very often pushed to kill one another. Moreover, one could still find some beaches perfectly clear and some mountainous regions with enough asphalted roads to reach them and, as for the rest, a nature completely wild.
It was exactly in such a place that we were going to live for some days, before going to frolic with the Adriatic Sea from which we were expecting sharp and new pleasures. Our camping was at the centre of the country. Was it Croatia ? Bosnia-Herzegovina ? Or rather Serbia ? It was hardly important at that time, because those “regions” were part of the same country : Yugoslavia. That was found in the wild country, hairy, on the edge of a wild river. Was it perhaps the Drina ?... Or rather Bosnia ? Or quite that river whose name seemed wild : the Vrbas ? We did not know why such a place attracted us, except that it seemed good to us. Now, we know : we were yearning to go and chat a little with Mômmanh.
One used to say that in the rough mountains of Yugoslavia, there were still bears, true ones, not “reinstated”.
During the break crammed with a heterogeneous loading, the three children busy reading on the back seat, the war went on at a good pace between the parents. We had gone past Ljubljana a long time before. In our rage to win, we used all the missiles, without much being concerned for the laws of war. She sent me the cobblestones which should have knocked me out:
“- Your family is full of crazy people. And aren't the people surprised at seeing you delirious ? But if I did not stop you, it will be ten times worse.
While I prepared the next attack, the kilometres passed.
Resigned, the children continued to read.
“- The stupidity of Gerard is not of genetic origin. You know well that it is the opinion of all the specialists.
Split is found close by the sea, very far from the wild mountain and on the river bank where we have to camp, so far that it was too late to make half a turn and go to join the good route. When we arrived at Split, the sun had set. Failing to succeed to find a camping site, we had to pass the night in the car. Split was at two or three hundred kilometres from our destination and we could not impose that long supplementary distance on the children.
Pushed by the distance, Ulysses could only reach his isle after ten years of uncertain wanderings. Would our personal tempest have similar consequences ? Our wandering in Yugoslavian land led us to a shore with very clean pebbles.
There were no crowds. The children transformed an inflated mattress in a jumping platform. From that base, lying down on their tummies, they could observe the bottom of the sea, ten to fifteen metres below, because the waters were particularly clear. They could also fish. And for sure, they did not deprive themselves from diving. Sometimes, it was to go and look for the sea urchins, the shells and the other treasures of the bottom, sometimes they practised underwater fishing, but, most of the times, it was simply for the pleasure which they felt by feeling themselves like fish in the sea. The children enjoyed themselves so much, that we remained there for more than fifteen days. We never reached Greece.
The Hundred Years War had developed and strengthened itself all along the ten years in Africa. Three children had been born during that period which had given us the strength to bear the long truces ; Pablo, Estelle and Thomas. It is for them that we had decided to go back to France. To extend our golden exile, we thought, would seriously compromise their education.
At the primary school reserved for the children of overseas development workers and some superior executive Burkinabés, our dear little ones received a solid teaching. Afterwards, at the lyceum of Ouagadougou, the level was considerably lower not because of the teachers, but because of the students.
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