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Leïla Bousnina : Ulysses

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These men could have been cousins, friends of the village, or my father’s colleagues. As a child, they were an integral part of my family environment. My parents regularly welcomed them. It was an invaluable support for their compatriots: the “zoufris” (workers) who, unlike them, suffered the full force of the loneliness of exile. I remember that their bodies and the expression of their faces expressed all the austerity of a daily life, chained to the rhythm of a factory or a construction site. They were transformed in contact with our home, which was noisy with children. Relaxed, with a hot mint tea, sitting around the living room table, they played endless games of dominoes. In this warm atmosphere, they exchanged experiences, supported each other, advised each other. They spoke the Algerian dialect, a language that we children did not understand. Sometimes, a word or a French expression escaped from their exchanges, punctuated by loud bursts of laughter, one guessed by the sound of their voices and the expressiveness of their gestures that they evoked their condition of life in...

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