Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow
by Faïza Guène
Its Monday and, like every Monday, Ive been over at Madame Burlauds. Madame
Burlauds old, shes ugly and she stinks of RID anti-lice shampoo. Shes
harmless, but sometimes she worries me. Today, she took a whole bunch of weird
pictures out of her bottom drawer, these huge stains that looked like dried
vomit. She asked me what they made me think of. I told her and she stared at me
with her bugged-out eyes, shaking her head like those little toy dogs in the
backs of cars.
It was school that signed me up to see her. The teachers, at least when they were between strikes, decided Id better see somebody because they thought I was shut down or depressed or something. Maybe theyve got a point, I dont give a shit, I go, its paid for by the government.
I guess Ive been off like this since my dad left. He went a long way away. He went back to Morocco to marry another woman whos gotta be younger and more fertile than my mom. After me, Mom couldnt have any more children. But it wasnt like she didnt try. She tried for a long time. When I think of all the girls who get pregnant their first time, without even meaning to . Dad, he wanted a son. For his pride, his reputation, the family honor and probably lots of other stupid reasons. But he only got one kid, and it was a girl. Me. You could say I didnt exactly meet customer requirements. Trouble is, its not like at the supermarket: theres no customer satisfaction guarantee. So one day, The Beard realized there was no point trying any more with my mom and he broke it off and left. Just like that, no warning. All I remember is that I was watching an episode from the fourth series of X-Files Id rented from the video store on the corner. The door banged shut. From the window, I saw a gray taxi pulling away. Thats all. That was over six months ago. Shes probably pregnant by now, that peasant woman he married. I can see now exactly how it will all go down next: seven days after the birth theyll hold the baptism ceremony and invite the whole village. A band of old sheiks with their camel-hide drums will come over just for the big event. Itll cost him a fortune all his workers pension from Renault. And then theyll slit the throat of a giant sheep, to give the baby its first name. Itll be Mohammed. Ten to one.
When Madame Burlaud asks me if I miss my dad, I say no, but she doesnt believe me. Shes pretty smart like that, for an old lady. Whatever, its no big deal, my moms here. Well, at least shes here physically. Because in her head, shes somewhere else, you know? Somewhere even further away than my father.
Ramadan started just over a week ago. I got Mom to sign a slip saying why I wouldnt be eating in the cafeteria . When I gave it to the principal, he asked if I thought he was a complete and total idiot. His name is M. Loiseau. Hes fat, hes stupid, and when he opens his mouth it reeks of cheap wine, and he smokes a pipe. At the end of the school day, his big sister picks him up out front in a red hatchback. So when he wants to play the big boss, hes kind of got a credibility problem.
Anyway, Monsieur Loiseau asked me if I was taking him for a complete and utter idiot because he thought Id forged my moms name on the slip. How stupid is that? If Id wanted to fake her signature, Id have given her a real one. On this thing Mom just made a kind of squiggly shape on the page. Shes not used to holding a pen. That jerk didnt even think about what he was saying, didnt even ask himself why her signature might be weird.. Hes one of those people who think illiteracy is like AIDS. It only exists in Africa.
Excerpted from Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow, by Faïza Guène. (c) 2006. Reproduced wither permission of the Publisher, Harcourt Books. All rights reserved.
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