The English countryside is one of a kind, green pastures, wet grass that shimmers under the May sun, triggers your childhood memories with all its fragrances.
Jasmine flowers dangling from the garden wall, I used to rub on my neck and hands like a perfume and spend the day drenched in its tender smell, the mimosa flowers I used to pick and mix with water to produce a perfume I would offer to my mum as a present, she would smile beamingly and display it in the cabinet proudly or perhaps it was to just humour me.
Sleeping on the grass, watching the sky, letting ladybirds fly around me and land on my arms, pick roses from the bushes to take to my mum who would arrange them on her favourite vase displayed in the middle of the table, waking up to the sound of the water fountain running in the garden and the sound of children playing in the street, riding my bike, falling on the tarmac and scraping my knees, crying, laughing, screaming with laughter and sadness, the first day of school after the summer holidays, my childhood friends...
My dad surprise pick us up from school in his Land-Rover and all the kids who would climb in the back of the truck (safety was not even an issue), spending the day at the Pépinière with a picnic of pain-perdu (1) and ready mixed café au lait in a thermos, sitting under a very large tree I believed it to be a centenarian, my dad would tell us the tale of “Loundja bent el ghoul”(2) over and over and over again.
Nowadays I fantasise about the Algerian sun, the majestic Sahara and its proud sand dunes, glorious sun sets and undisputable beauty.
Family gatherings and my mothers afternoon cakes she seems to concoct in under a minute, my father closing the windows when I start laughing because the neighbours will hear me laugh like a hyena and the smell of Sardine and fresh fish the fishermen lay on the street market, the smells of wet sand when it rains in the Sahara.
Algeria, Algeria, Algeria, the land of my childhood, my birth and my ancestors, Algeria such a mystic, beautiful country, our bond with Algeria is so intense and particular that it deserves its own name, Nostalegria(3). This yearning for Algeria that overpowers you; covers you with goose bumps, this pleasurable emotion that takes over all your senses, makes you feel paralyzed with yearning for something you cannot explain.
Certain smells, sounds, areas and even times of days instantly fill the ether with nostalgeria, when you walk down the street in Ramadan and smell the Algerian sweets and the fresh coriander or the shelves full of Hamoud boualem(4), when you are somewhere and they appropriately play “ya rayah”(5) or a certain tune by Khaled like “Wahran Wahran”, when you watch the news and hear of devastations or celebrations, when it’s a nice quiet afternoon, mild temperature and covered skies, it makes me think of home, closing the blinds in the living room and sitting under a duvet to watch a movie with my mother, my father complaining about the noise and about disrupting his nap but refusing to go to his room because he would still prefer to be with us but would not admit to it.
When you feel despair, you want go home, when you are happy you want to home, going home, the one question that remains floating unanswered, you long to go home, you wish you could, you wish it would be just like London or Paris or whatever you are currently living so you could go home and continue leading the same lifestyle and enjoy the same freedoms, you wish it was a place that made you immensely proud, albeit Algerians are extremely proud of their mere patrie, devastated, ravaged or war torn, but knowing that it is a far reached dream, we remain nostalgic living with the myth of no return.
(1) french toast - yummm
(2) Loundja daughter of the ghoul
(3) a term created by Jacques Derrida, to describe his nostalgia for Algeria, where he was born
(4) award wining Algerian lemonade/soft drink
(5) a Chaabi song by Dahmen Al Harachi