They are behind the door. I know it because of the fire smell of their torches. I cannot hear them. My blood is pulsing too loud against my temples.
They are there, eager for revenge. Revenge against you who didn’t do anything. Revenge against you who are now still squeezing up your warm body against mine, to comfort me. Your head in my neck, your cheek against my cheek. Like you always did. But tonight I know this is my turn to protect you. I know I am the only one able to save you. But I also know I am all alone and disarmed, facing those barbarians. I am too small. They are too crazy.
The ribbon glides from my hair while I am rocking you like a child.
The ribbon glides around your neck and you do not move.
The ribbon tightens around your neck and the house door flies into pieces.
You moan for the last time. Very softly. You don’t complain. You just want to comfort me for the last time : it’s gonna be all right, they will not get me.
They will not get you. They will not get you.
They didn’t get you.
I am closing your golden eyes when they find us hidden under the table. Your body is still warm when they grab you. My fingers cling on to your fur. All my life this fur warmed me up. On the morning, my first contact with the world. And every night I could sleep only feeling your warmth against my bare skin. And tonight you are gone, and they want to take you away from me.
They didn’t have you death, they will not have your body. And I hang on to you. I cling to you. But I am too little. I am too little and they take you away from me. Those disgusting fish worshippers are taking you away from me. They are snatching you from my arms, those disgusting dog-eaters. And I scream, like I never did before. I scream like I never shouted at my mother during an argument, because always you have been there to calm me down. I scream like I never did to extirpate myself from a nightmare, because always you have protected me. I scream when their blade sink into your neck. Your neck still adorned with my ribbon that killed you. I scream when your fur turn to red. I scream too loud to hear the noise of your head when it falls on the floor. I am still screaming when they abandon me cowering on the beheaded corpse of my dog. I am screaming the face in your soiled fur.
I am not screaming anymore when my parents return from the fields. I am done with screaming.
The door is smashed.
My lashes are stuck up.
The salt on my red cheeks.
The ash on my head.
My shaved head.
My shaved body.
The down between my legs, annunciating I would soon be nubile, I shaved it. My hair, I shaved it. All my body, shaved, like the razor cut your throat, like the death stole your fur.
Your fur, I kept it.
Your fur, I will always keep it. It will be mine from now on.
That is the day I grew up.
You do not enter into adulthood. You fall into it. You never get up.
It is not the blood one day I found in my pants, it is not the change of my body, it is not the change of my voice that transformed me. It is your blood, it is the loss of your body, it is the loss of you. And with this loss, all my world fell apart.
That is the day I grew up, when I understood the fish we ate here were gods in the next village. When I understood that dogs who were our gods were eaten in the next village.
When I understood in other villages they had other gods.
When I understood in other villages they could eat fish and dog.
When I understood in other villages they didn’t have any god.
That is the day I left.
The house had become too empty. The house was full of your absence. The house was full of your death. The whole village was still resounding with your death. And our men were already sharpening their knives to avenge you. I understood there would always have gods or dogs to kill. That is the day I left my parents and my religion.
I wanted to grow up, I wanted to toughen up. My mother used to say : a good library is the treasure of the remedies of the soul. I went to Alexandria and I saw the scrolls. All the wisdoms of the world stacked on each other. I wanted to eat everything. I wanted to understand everything. But the wisdoms of the world tread on each other’s toes. What a book says, another one can deny it. In one book, aquatic turtle is a harmless animal. It is responsible of drought in another one. In another one, it is responsible for the Nile flood. It is an evil symbol in another one.
I read all that and I understand. I understand books are only humans like others, but the madness is more powerful. I understand books contain more power than wisdom. I understand to change the world you have to change the books.
Ambushed. I am waiting. That’s it. The companion whistled. The heat inflaming my cheeks is only mine yet. Crouching in the dust, I unsheathe my bow, my board, put a stick in it. Turn and turn and flip. Sawdust accumulates. My hands are shaking. Sawdust is heating but doesn’t ignite. I accelerate the movement of the bow. I blow. The ember comes, that I cover with dry grass. The companion whistles, a second time. I open the flask, and plunge in it the tupe of my arrow, covered with fabric. At my feet, the heap of grass is starting to ignite. Quick, before our light are spotted. I pass the ring on my thumb. I plunge the arrow into the fire. I strip my muscles and my bow. The companion whistles a third time. I let go of the bowstring. I do not shake anymore. All our burning arrows attack the misleading library. And we do it again. My body is moving by itself. In the darkness around me, I can feel without seeing them my comrades performing the same gesture as me at the same time. My arrow plunges into the alcohol. My arrow plunges into the fire. As a ritual dance. My bowstring tightens. The companion whistle. All our arrows reply while cutting through the air. They join the beginning of the fire. Books : it burns well. And we do it again. Arrow, alcohol, fire, bowstring, whistle. And we do it again. People are screaming around me I think, running, fleeing, struggling. And we do it again, do it again, do it again. Excited. Alive. Victorious. And we do it again. I would not have avenged your death. I would not have tried to avenged you. I wanted your death not be in vain but it was. You died innocent, punished for being. You died innocent, punished for not being a god. You were punished there are no gods.
I haven’t avenged you, I have punished the culprit.
My mother used to say : a good library is the treasure of the remedies of the soul.
I say : a good library is a burning one.