“It feels like this Christmas is about remembering the people that somehow changed my life.”
Rabah was blind; he lost his sight when he was a teenager living in a remote village in Algeria. He had a poet’s memory for the world, with a blind man’s acute senses: hearing, touch, smell, the “feeling” of a place.
Fearless, he would walk with us in the mountains, guided by his companion Yvonne, along rough dirt paths and steep inclines, through meadows of wild thyme, crossing streams by stepping trustingly on one rock after another, as Yvonne talked him across. Rabah and Yvonne, as though their senses were intertwined, would comment on scent of flowers we hadn’t seen, plucking wild fruits for us to taste that we hadn’t noticed. Writes Lisa:
“Rabah taught me to look at language and nature with my heart and ears. He taught me to subvert rules of language to find a new language. He taught me again to rely on tenderness as my guide and kindness as my action. I fail sometimes but I sure try hard…”
We love Lisa’s view of the holidays: that it is about remembering the remarkable and valiant people who have touched our lives…
Having spoken out against the repressive government in Algeria, Rabah lived in exile in Paris. Tragically, he died several years after we all had met. Although he wrote many books, – mostly poetry – in French, we know of only one novel that has been translated into English: Shattered Vision.