The clamour at the bazaar was as colourful as the merchandise (…)

The velvet red of the paprika, the black of the ground pepper, peppercorns like caviar, ground ginger and ginger root, snowy peaks of crude salt, pan-flutes of cinnamon, dunes of ground cinnamon and cumin, afternoon-yellow saffron powder; (…)

Invisible coppersmiths beat the meter of an unheard poem. The smell of sawdust and lemon wood rose like the smell of new life from the corner of the carpenter’s guild. (…) Old women, as though made from the mountains, with dimpled faces and sunken cheeks, selling peacock feathers, dried chameleons, mummified reptiles, drinks, spices, (…)

The bazaar square, the meeting-place for flies, where, in stalls of white tiles, the butchers, chopped, sliced, filleted, tenderized meat, bodies and heads arranged on the counter. From meat hooks hang half and whole sheep, lambs, chickens, turkeys, quartered oxen and cows, maps of tender red and indigestible white. Sheep heads stick out their rough tongues. Severed hooves lie on the ground (…)

Full of self-pity, the men murmured and praised the misery of their lot (…) There are people for whom patience or passivity is a kind of labour. Tiring work even, so it seems, hearing the many sighs and groans pouring out of the men. They had been busy, when, in the distant rainy season, from the shade of the flowering almonds, lemons and olives, they watched the women, bent, some with babies on their backs, work the land and then take care of the home.


Hafid Bouazza