20 August 2007

Book happens

Remembering a book I ‘ started to read’ a few years ago.. I do not know.. but I lost it on the train to Marrakech. Very fascinating book. “The Tattooed Map” listed as the first novel of Barbara Hodgson, a Vancouver artist and a writer. it is a travel journal about two characters, Lydia and Chris, who chose Morocco as a destination for one of many of their adventures:

I am embarking on what I hope will be another successful journey. I am alone, but I doubt that my companion shares my anticipations. We’ve traveled together many times before, Christopher and I, and on every trip I’ve had the sensation that the two of us have wandered—always together—to very different places.

The story that sounded like a regular chronology of “Tour du Maroc” was starting to get strange as Lydia noticed a tattoo of a map appeared on her arm. The map got bigger and covered all her body.

She disappears afterwards and Chris tries to find her. he finds her journal in a café place in Marrakech and finishes writing the second part of what came to be a great novel.

Chris finds the journal... I feel asleep and we were already close to Benguerir ( 70 Kilometers away form Marrakech).

Ladies and gentleman.. the train enters la gare de Marrakech. Terminus, les voyageur a destination de ….” Everyone stood up. Got out of the train. I did. Never saw the book again. never finished it.

But the sketches on the book, the photos, the doodles and all the margins stayed in my head for a long time...

I was not sure I agreed with everything but as B. Hodgson herself says:

“I think everyone has their own Morocco, whether it be their backyard or another country,"

Every one has their morocco that they cherish, or not. Lydia had a Morocco tattooed on her skin.. she had the whole world to appreciate with some life in it. She did not have a Marrakech that she owned or any other place.. she preferred to disappear instead of having to face a world that was leading her to accept deceit and terror. She wanted to perpetuate the images she has about a deteriorating world.

Details can be disappointing at times when their threads fall into holes of despair. Like the despair of محمود المسعدي Mahmoud Messaadi, a Tunisian writer and Activist who wrote حدث ابو هريرة قال Abu Hurayra in 1939. Abu Hurayra wakes up in the morning not wanting to do his daily rituals. He refused any further commitment to Allah. embarks in a journey into the “unknown” (if you want to call it, I don’t). His travels to desert, monasteries, and into himself.

A journey of a man who holds the name of one of the most renown figures in the history of Islam.. a friend of the prophet Mohamed. One of the ten people who were promised heaven. Mahmoud said once, “we don’t die till the end of the story”. But Abu Hurayra did not die. he disappeared.

The end of Abu Hurayra is the end of discovering “his own map”. . the grid of truthfulness that leads to an evaluation of meaning. A step ahead from the semantics of a reality where maps mean something more than the first person singular where most western knowledge is trapped.

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