I killed a bird

Modifié le : 2019/07/16

Despite what they say, the Inter­net is an inex­haustible source of inten­si­ty. If there are decoys, they are no dif­fer­ent from what is hap­pen­ing in real life. The Inter­net is real life too. How many peo­ple live in their bub­ble, even if it is not con­nect­ed to the net­work ? The Inter­net is just a mag­ni­fy­ing glass. If we agree to watch, we can feed on it for a long time.

I will name him M. He is 24 years old, lives con­fined to Alge­ria. He con­tact­ed me about six months ago on Face­book. No faces on his pro­file. I still won­der how I could accept his friend­ship in this way. I am usu­al­ly sus­pi­cious of these anony­mous requests, which are sources of inde­cent solic­i­ta­tion. Maybe I just pushed the wrong but­ton. Any­way, after being con­firmed this friend­ship, M. sent me a mes­sage say­ing he was hap­py to meet me, that I seemed to be a beau­ti­ful person.

As a med­ical stu­dent, his French was almost impec­ca­ble, his words sur­pris­ing­ly mature. He made a good impres­sion on me.

We exchanged for a few days. He explained his sit­u­a­tion to me. Homo­sex­u­al, liv­ing with his par­ents, sur­round­ed by his broth­ers and sis­ters, he worked hard, already young intern, hav­ing bril­liant­ly passed the aca­d­e­m­ic stages. He also told me very quick­ly that he was a believ­er, very reli­gious, that homo­sex­u­al­i­ty was wrong, that it was, there­fore, in the eyes of God, a horror.

I was not sur­prised by this state­ment. I have heard it many times. Take for exam­ple the 27-year-old Pales­tin­ian boy liv­ing in Sau­di Ara­bia. Let’s call it O. He lived in a big city, described to me the suf­fo­cat­ing life in Jed­dah, where peo­ple live as Mus­lim in the world out­side their homes and, when they return home in the evening, they watch, via satel­lite dish­es, films, tits and the del­i­ca­cies promised by the West.

O. and M. are the same speech, the same fear, the fear of being dis­cov­ered, the fear of being judged, of being ostra­cized. They both were end­ing abrupt­ly the con­ver­sa­tion because they had to go to pray, and then used to return as quick­ly as if noth­ing had happened.

I, the shop­ping cen­tre psy­chol­o­gist, made it a point to make them under­stand that they had to stop judg­ing them­selves, that homo­sex­u­al­i­ty was not evil and that, above all, the reli­gion that came out of men’s mouths was cer­tain­ly not the word of God.

With O., things were going pret­ty well. Year in and year out, he under­stood that he too was a human being. He final­ly opened up to the idea that he could live out his desires, even secret­ly. He told me about his meet­ing with a for­eign work­er, obvi­ous­ly much old­er than him, a Dutch­man. It’s amaz­ing how young Arabs like to fall in love with old­er men. We imme­di­ate­ly see there an unspec­i­fied com­plex, a desire to meet and to free our­selves from the father. This could appear clichés, but real­i­ty likes to wal­low in them more often than we would like.

As I pre­dict­ed, our con­ver­sa­tions even­tu­al­ly fad­ed. O. had reached his thir­ties, he had become a man. By the few pho­tos I see appear­ing on Face­book, I could see that he was able and qui­et­ly assert­ing him­self, even if it always seems to be done in the great­est of silences. At least, I know, he man­aged his sit­u­a­tion bet­ter, deals with it and, he had the chance to trav­el a lit­tle bit, escape prison, meet guys like his first Dutch­man (I could tell a lot about this man who was tak­ing advan­tage of the boy while, at home, he had been liv­ing a “hap­py” rela­tion­ship for twen­ty years with his “hus­band”. A man is a man…), etc.

O. does­n’t real­ly talk to me any­more, even though, at the time, he said he was mad­ly in love with me. I knew it. These were only the words of a lying youth who want­ed to achieve only his lib­er­at­ing ends. A young per­son­’s seed is both fer­tile and dangerous.

As an old vet­er­an of those Inter­net meet­ing places, I have dia­logued many times with these young peo­ple who were look­ing for a father, nev­er a moth­er. At the very begin­ning, I admit it, I fell for some of these hot hearts a few times, but it did­n’t last long. I have the intel­li­gence of my suf­fer­ings and I prob­a­bly have the suf­fer­ing of my thoughts. It does­n’t mat­ter. It no longer affects me.

Back to M. With him, the speech was always more trag­ic. If O. turned to the mosque out of habit and to please his father, this was not the case for M. who quick­ly adopt­ed with me a vio­lent dis­course towards gay mar­riage, towards Alger­ian homo­sex­u­als whom he found stu­pid as he wished, even odi­ous. I tried, and some­times suc­cess­ful­ly, to con­vince him that peo­ple’s behav­ior should not be judged with­out putting it into con­text. I had him read an arti­cle in Le Monde diplo­ma­tique, on sex­u­al­i­ty in Alge­ria. M. cor­rob­o­rat­ed every­thing. There, the moral grip is so great that a young female pro­fes­sion­al buy­ing a house can nev­er live there until she is mar­ried. M. also con­firmed to me that it was still cus­tom­ary to repu­di­ate (or even kill) own’s daugh­ter if she lost her vir­gin­i­ty before the mar­riage. Of course, we are talk­ing about a cer­tain Alge­ria, the Mus­lim woman, per­haps not quite the urban woman. I will not ven­ture any fur­ther, because I do not know anymore.

So what about homo­sex­u­als ? First, accord­ing to M., they are used as expe­di­ents by het­ero­sex­u­als. Unable to have sex before mar­riage, the “straights” let off steam, as if they were in prison, on the gays. There are many rapes and then the raped also let them­selves be abused because that is the only way to get some sex. It is the sec­ond-best thing to enjoy.

It reminds me of what a Russ­ian doc­tor, liv­ing in Novosi­birsk, said. The gays there mate vio­lent­ly, with­out heat, in dark places. It takes a max­i­mum of ten min­utes to evac­u­ate. The ten­der­ness is not there, but the release is, at least, for a while. The mer­ry-go-round starts again. So is violence.

M. was throw­ing up these peo­ple. I often man­aged to make him cry, dur­ing these exchanges con­fined to a lim­it­ed Inter­net con­nec­tion and sub­scribed to a sin­gle Face­book account. M. did­n’t want to mas­tur­bate, he told me, he did­n’t want to, and that was wrong. He hat­ed the idea of sodomy. I point­ed out to him that he had nev­er tried… That does­n’t mat­ter. I had this strange speech with him where I made him promise to put a lubri­cat­ed fin­ger in his (clean) butt, just to feel some­thing. When you think about it, it’s grotesque, and yet !

Lit­tle by lit­tle, despite his reluc­tance, I felt that he was some­what open­ing. When M. spoke wise­ly, when he opened his intel­li­gence to the truth, he became lumi­nous. He had shown me, once, a pic­ture of him tak­en by his father. He was a pret­ty boy. His beau­ti­ful matu­ri­ty could be imme­di­ate­ly felt. He was, so to speak, fas­ci­nat­ing. As I grow old­er, I admire the youth so quick to light up.

At the same time, M. quick­ly got back into his bad words, became vio­lent with me. He remind­ed me of a cat play­ing with the mice he was catch­ing. He could say hor­rors about gay peo­ple and say that he had a heart as cold as a stone. He was both mature and total­ly infan­tilized. And because he knew how to use words, his frus­tra­tions became hys­ter­i­cal weapons (in the psy­cho­an­a­lyt­i­cal sense of the word, a behav­ior that M. was the first to recognize).

He want­ed to become a Nobel Prize win­ner in med­i­cine, his only ambi­tion, he told me, to con­clude that he had giv­en up on hap­pi­ness. I could­n’t accept this sit­u­a­tion, I told him often and he told me to go to hell, insult­ed me, then asked for for­give­ness. I dared to get angry and even vio­lent­ly against his inter­pre­ta­tion of Islam, against God. He took out the believ­er’s sword, for­bade me to insult any­one while he did not hes­i­tate to judge, to sep­a­rate what he thought was good from the chaff.

For a while, I thought this chaot­ic behav­ior was due to his sit­u­a­tion as a pris­on­er. I still believe that. When we observe the hor­rors that fall not just on homo­sex­u­als, but on entire peo­ples, and by the sole rea­son of a divine word divert­ed from its mean­ing, when we also see that we in West­ern coun­tries are not real­ly bet­ter, that our good inten­tions are often the lot of polit­i­cal and finan­cial cal­cu­la­tions, when we look at all this, we can only under­stand the incon­sis­tent words of the peo­ple who suffer.

How­ev­er, the day came when I had had enough. The trig­ger was that usu­al con­ver­sa­tion, that mix­ture of obscure and ter­ri­fy­ing feel­ings. How­ev­er, the event was not insignificant.

— I killed my broth­er’s bird, he told me.

— What?! You’re kidding.

— No, I was study­ing next to the cage of that bird my broth­er had just bought. It was too noisy. I took a big book and hit the cage a few times and then left. My sis­ter dis­cov­ered the bird lat­er, dead, at the bot­tom of the cage.

— Maybe it’s not you…

— Yes, I did. I hit hard. The bird must have had a pan­ic attack.

— How do you feel now?” I asked him.

— Noth­ing.

A week lat­er, while I was work­ing, I saw a Face­book alert from M. He accused me of nev­er con­tact­ing him, that he was always the one start­ing the con­ver­sa­tion, which was total­ly wrong. I could see it com­ing, it was anoth­er one of those para­noid times. As I was work­ing, I sent him a quick note to tell him that I could­n’t talk to him.

When I returned home, I had a series of unfair and inflam­ma­to­ry com­ments from him, mixed with requests for forgiveness.

I only sent him one mes­sage : “That’s enough.” I delet­ed his account from my list of friends. I did what many of his Face­book “friends”, he told me, had already done to him. I had also come into con­tact with some Que­bec “friends” who had left him. “Too heavy,” they told me.

So I aban­doned him for the same rea­sons because I could no longer endure that. It was with­out shame that I cut the ties, hop­ing that, like O., the young man would even­tu­al­ly set­tle down.

I am not a Moth­er There­sa and, despite my good­will, I can­not bring mis­for­tune to every­one. I had to take a break from the vine­gar vol­cano that is M. His coun­try is equal­ly immersed in this vine­gar and, around him, regions are becom­ing acid­i­fied in almost gen­er­al indif­fer­ence, unless, of course, finan­cial or polit­i­cal inter­ests give our politi­cians the “courage” to raise their voic­es a little.

How­ev­er, I now regret my ges­ture. It is easy to decide when you are hap­py, it is easy to with­draw your gen­eros­i­ty… Maybe M. is cry­ing, or he’s hunt­ing anoth­er bird. He’s so young. There is hope if there is so much hope on this Earth.

I know that if I met M., it would be fine. I had the naivety to believe that our friend­ship could bring him a lit­tle sweet­ness. In any case, I hope that this young boy will be able to escape from this suf­fo­cat­ing Alge­ria. He will be a doc­tor and could ini­tial­ly pur­sue his high­er edu­ca­tion in France. There, it seems to me, he could put his cer­tain­ties into perspective.

I could ask him again for his friend­ship, but what will he do with it ? Did I kill that scream­ing bird ? I often think of him, hes­i­tate between attach­ment and indif­fer­ence. I prob­a­bly have to let him live and then we’ll see. The best hap­pi­ness will be the one he suc­ceeds in build­ing him­self… He has the intel­lec­tu­al strength to do so, even if that same pow­er could be his loss.

I keep telling myself, I should prob­a­bly ask him again for his friend­ship on Face­book. Just to tell him I under­stand. But is that too con­de­scend­ing ? He’d have every rea­son to tell me to go to hell. Now I’m dither­ing again…

I know we live in very dif­fer­ent worlds. Our human­i­ty is the same, but, let us say it, I still have the feel­ing that, in my coun­try, we have evolved a lit­tle bit. We no longer live in the Mid­dle Ages, nor in the 1950s. The bat­tle is cer­tain­ly not won and, judg­ing by the rise of garbage radios, by the right-wing gov­ern­ments that are too eas­i­ly elect­ed. Of these big­ot­ed laws passed in the USA and else­where, strug­gles are to come. But at least we can fight it. What about all the M. in the Arab world ? What about our true will­ing­ness to impose our ideals ? With­out being prophets of mis­for­tune, are we fool­ish­ly obey­ing history ?

I may be told that noth­ing has changed. Only the mag­ni­fy­ing glass of the Inter­net is new. Well, that’s fine. We must then roll up our sleeves and become brave, fight­ing first and fore­most against the injus­tices that sur­round us for miles around.

Then we must talk about oth­er injus­tices, pur­sue the word, make it known, reduce the sound of our use­less tele­vi­sions, take to the streets in the dai­ly life of our thoughts, remain vig­i­lant, con­tin­ue to love and dream.

It is not only bad priests and bad imams who poi­son minds. They are only men and women, furi­ous at cer­tain­ties, ready to do any­thing to get their genes to take over yours.

Will it always be a fight on this Earth ?

Le Monde diplomatique