L’Esprit d’Escalier: Part Ten, Abdulaye

by | Dec 4, 2023 | Uncategorized | 1 comment

He was a member of the famous Senegalese Tirailleurs from Dakar.

Abdulaye Haidara is a French citizen. It says so on his passport and identity card, he’ll tell anyone who’s interested and some who aren’t. He also says we can call him Abs, which is very kind of him.

In addition, he’ll tell you what it means to be a comrade of this exclusive sixty million member club. Citizenship comes first in France, before religion, culture. Not that Abs possesses either of those burdens. For him, he’ll also tell you, life is everything, there’s nothing after it except the blackness that existed before you were conceived.

What is even more important is that he was born a French citizen. He’s not an immigrant or an asylum seeker. He’s as French as his friend, the old doctor who lives on the top floor or that decrepit bastard Raimund, next door. He owes this privilege to his grandfather Dibrijil Haidara. 

Dibrijil fought many campaigns for France; both in the Second World War and in the colonies. He was a member of the famous Senegalese Tirailleurs from Dakar. Tirailleur means skirmisher, rifleman or sharpshooter and Grandpa Dibrijil was all three. Pride of place, on Abs’s living room wall, hangs the Legion D’ Honneur that the old man won in Algeria.

Speaking of Algeria, he’ll also go on to tell you, if you care to listen, his all time hero is Albert Camus. This French-Algerian philosopher and author dictates the university lecturer’s life. He is the subject of many of the sessions Abs gives at the Sorbonne where he works. He’s the only black professor in the department.

Abs lives with his wife of twenty-one years, Maryam. Maryam suffers from agoraphobia and hardly ever leaves the house these days. Apart from his job, Abs is devoted to his wife. She is ten years younger than Abs and she was thirteen when they got married back in Senegal. Maryam is now also a French citizen.

There are two sources of sadness in his life. The first is that their marriage is childless. Doctor Lucien told them that something had happened to Maryam back home when she was a child. Abs feels that what they do to young women there is wrong. It’s the main reason for his shunning of religion and superstition.

Secondly, he hates being just another black face in the sea of ebony that flows in and out of Chateau Rouge every day. He wants to tell everyone that he’s as French as Degaulle or Macron. Not that he’s racist of course. Unlike that old bastard Raimund who lives next door. Abs detests the old fascist.

Although Abs is dedicated to Maryam, he has a bit of a roving eye when it comes to women. His appetite in that direction is huge and Maryam serves him tiny portions. His students, in particular, are a source of great pleasure, in many ways. There’s nothing Abs loves more than an intellectual sparring with a pretty girl followed by a few rounds of physical sparring in bed.

One such partner is Rana, a beautiful Eritrean undergraduate. East African girls are so pretty with their delicate features and tiny soft bodies and Rana was a typical example. She was also as bright as a button on his Granddad’s tunic. He adored how her miniature hands woul caress his giant features and his other parts. He loved how she would push his mind to the limits with her questions and his body with her youthful energy.

Today, the day the giant Malian sloth Cheik finally succumbed to his laziness and passed away, Abs receives some shocking news of his own. The information that comes into his possession, by rext message of all things; from Rana, rocks his world. His young Eritrean lover is expecting his baby. Abs is torn between the sheer joy of being a father and the terror of what it would do to his marriage and career. There is only one thing for it, he’ll have to consult Dr Lucien. He’ll know what to do, he always does.

Abs lights a reefer and sits back in his armchair. He stares at the pretty medal in its glass case. As the warm blanket of weed begins to envelop the giant man, he places the paper tube in the ashtray and closes his eyes. He drifts back to the time of his Grandfather. The big man is awakened by Maryam shaking him violently. 

“Abs, wake up. It’s Cheik, upstairs. He’s had a heart attack. Caaisho has gone to fetch the doctor,” she cries, continuing to shake him by the shoulders.

“What? Wait, what do you want me to do? If she’s gone for the doctor, I can’t help. What time is it?” Abs gently takes hold of his wife’s arms in his massive hands. “Calm down Maryam. Let Lucien deal with it.” He thinks about Rana and her soft warm thighs and flat, taut stomach and feels the blood rushing to his groin. He pulls Maryam on top of him and nestles his face into her hair, looking for her ear. The woman pushes away from him.

“What do you think you’re doing? Didn’t ou hear me? A man is dying above our heads and you’re thinking about sex?” Maryam dashes into the bedroom and slams the door. Abs hears the familiar muffled sobs through the thin wall of the living room.

He will see Dr Lucien that very morning.

1 Comment

  1. Kenneth Childs

    As usual wonderfully descriptive and imaginative the plot thickens.


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