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Algiers, a City on Top of the Planet of Anxiety

Algiers, a City on Top of the Planet of Anxiety

Saturday, 4 April, 2020 - 12:45
Reuters Photo - Algeria general view.
Rabia Djelti

Now, as she rested assured that all her residents are in their homes with their blue windows shut, as usual, the white city of Algiers sits facing the sea, observing its changes.

Sometimes, she looks at him with content because, since creation, he has been sitting there, stretching at her feet, for one thousand four hundred kilometers, and he never moves away.

He looks at her passionately; and passion is a tree whose leaves are never shed, according to the description of Ibn Qayyim Al-Jawziyya in his book “The Garden of the Lovers and the Excursion of Those Who Yearn. He doesn’t mind its vanity and arrogance. However, at other times, it looks at him with suspicion as well.

Whenever the debate between them intensifies, Algiers proves him wrong when she waves in his face a copy of the author of Ibn Khaldoun: “Book of Lessons, Record of Beginnings and Events in the history of the Arabs and Foreigners and Berbers and their Powerful Contemporaries”.

“White Algiers”, despite its extreme anxiety, stemming from her fear of the spread of the blind, deaf and mute coronavirus among its residents, remains optimistic. This is her Mediterranean disposition and temperament. Undoubtedly, clouds of sadness do hover in its skies, watching its empty streets, squares and cafes, and its ports, renowned for their beauty, deserted, yes, totally deserted. The ships and boats are anchored in the blue water, even the seagulls that fill her sky seem confused, and so they wander the nearby neighborhoods, inquiring as to what happened. There is no doubt that the curfew, which runs from seven in the evening until seven in the morning, ingrains the anxiety and sadness, forewarning that grave danger is in the air.

Despite this, the white capital does joyfully smile at times. Her beautiful secrets are revealed when she opens her eyes through the blue windows and balconies, in her rich and poor neighborhoods, from the side of the Belcourt, Hydra, Bab Al Wadi and Al-Abyar neighborhoods to the seaside. She enters the poor's homes and the luxurious villas of the rich, wandering around to check on her residents, who are forced to stay to limit the spread of the deadly virus. She watches over their stories, tales, amusements, minor conflicts and the revelation of their true nature which can be hidden no longer. She notices some of the changes to their habits, breaking their routines that had almost become a second nature with time. Some families meet merrily while others querulously; there is nowhere to run or hide, everyone is together. They are rediscovering one another and being brought closer by news of Chronic deaths, broadcast on the screens of world channels in all languages.

It is the lesson of Chronic death that does not discriminate based on color, sex, religion, language, geography or climate. The eloquent Chronic lesson reminds humanity that it is one and that humans in all continents share the same fragile respiratory system.

Nothing distinguishes the chests of humble men who survive by selling mint packets and their ruler who would create traffic in an empty street by crossing it. The chest is shared by Muslims, Christians, Jews, and Buddhists, by the non-religious and believers of the creed of their choosing.

The white capital smiles and nods her head, thinking of humans’ savagery. They persisted in spoiling the four elements of nature, as the Greek philosopher Empedocles called them, namely: air, water, fire and soil.

Blinded by greed, they had no mercy on one another.

The white capital smiles bitterly this time, as she thinks of Corona’s essential lesson, that humans are also nothing but microscopic creatures that are part of the galaxy and that despite their dangerous armaments and arrogance, are not the universe. Rather, there are hundreds of billions of visible galaxies in the universe and it is “better for them to change their whims than to change the system of the universe”, as Descartes says.

It is seven in the evening, the hour of the curfew, the capital’s residents will enter their homes as the white city of Algiers watches the universe from above, chats with the four hundred billion stars that it swims in and prays for its residents and humanity to be in peace.

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