(If you find out "Mômmanh", "existence", "need of existence", please go to chapiter 2 to learn more...)
How is it very difficult to replace the cultural acquisitions of childhood?
Which is the principal cause of scholastic failure?
When the children have not acquired in their family the tastes and the mental structures necessary for the success in their studies, they experience great difficulty.
You know well that the children of educated parents are quite often good students. You know as well that the children of Jewish culture or those of Chinese culture succeed nearly always in their studies whereas those of animist culture, of Black Africa particularly, are often mediocre students. Everybody knows that.
So, why expect the school to lead all the students to the summit ? How can they assume such an objective before having understood how the family culture acts on the studies ?
The child learns existence in the family centre, especially from his parents. He learns a lot during the first years. He develops his tastes, some mental structures often too complex and some acquaintances. If that as a whole is compatible with the continuation of his studies, the child will have the chance to succeed in them. It is right the opposite, it will be a very difficult task, much more difficult than that experienced by a left handed who wants to become right-handed. An apparently irreparable fact increases the risks of failure : certain capacities of our neuronal ensemble -our intelligence- if they are not utilised in the infancy, are lost for ever : it is like this that some handicapped intellects approach the study of languages, of music, of mathematics...
How it is difficult to correct an apprenticeship which is badly done.
A single personal example to show you the importance of the cultural basis acquired in childhood. Thirty years ago when I came to live in my house, I inscribed in my head an orientation table of which I give you the important parts.
To situate Rennes in relation to my house, I memorised the wrong orientations which are crossed on the diagram. Consequently, I used to see Rennes to the east of Fougères while it was to the west. Note well that the only mistake which carries away all the others leads to a small part of the route, a street of Fougères which I imagine oriented towards the south while it heads towards the west.
I have tried to correct that error for fifteen years; inscribe in my memory the right o rientation till the journey which leads to the Breton capital. There was nothing I could do about it: the wrong diagram did not want to be wiped out.
Like this, the other day, to buy some science fiction books, I went to Bécherel. There are down there about twenty second-hand book dealers : and I was sure to find my luck. Knowing that Bécherel is situated in the north-west of Rennes, I thought I was very close, at about 35 kilometres. To my great surprise, I had to cover double the distance. So I understood that I had once more recalled my false mental map. Look at my little diagram and you will understand. Fortunately enough, on the way, I let myself be guided by the indicating signs and the road map, so I arrived at the right destination just the same.
All that to show that an error in learning leading to a small structure can be difficult to correct. So you understand it is impossible to redo certain learning extremely complex like language, the art of reasoning, the conception of the universe, the family structures, social clans, the existential priorities and their practices... In brief, it is impossible to redo the learning of childhood.
Therefore, if the education received in the family nucleus is incompatible with the pursuit of the studies, the poor child suffers in class and will experience the scholastic failure. Among the sub products of that situation, there is the hatred for school and all that which follows.
By scholastic success, we understand the acquisition of the foundations of the western culture accomplished, that which wants to know the reality even remote that is possible to do at our era. The peasant who is content in putting to practice the traditional recipes inherited from his ancestors does not participate in that culture. Neither he who is happy of himself when he applies blindly the simple instructions diffused by the organisms of agricultural vulgarisation. But the peasant holder of a baccalaureate who has studied the agricultural sciences as well as the management of the agricultural exploitations and who cannot stop himself from developing what he has learned at school, yes, that man there is cultured.
It can happen that an individual from an underprivileged cultural environment succeeds in spite of everything brilliantly in his studies. Yes, but he is an exception. Perhaps he has extraordinary inborn qualities ? Perhaps circumstances of life have led him to develop his intelligence besides the sources of other than his parents ? Perhaps both of them ?
So ? When the family education condemns the child to fail his studies, what can we do? Must his parents renounce ? Must they, as soon as possible, entrust the education of their children to strangers, the teachers of the day nursery and of the maternal schools for example ? For that, it is necessary first of all that they accept the risk of seeing their offshoots bore themselves in their company when they grow up, and escape far away to live serenely their culture which is altogether new.
It is up to us to choose the answers.
How does the traditional Burkinabe education generate the scholastic success and the technical progress.
And the Burkinabés in that business ?
The Burkinabés diffuse their animistic traditional cultures which refrain from succeeding in modern studies. The school, when it exists, is more often powerless. The scientific culture and its problems, the efficient modern techniques, do not manage to enter into such a country. Aids has developed practically without hindrance because the traditional culture opposes the scientific explanations and the use of condoms. Since the barrier against science is maintained from generation to generation, why is it that the inability of Africa to develop itself does not stretch for some centuries ? It took our French ancestors a thousand years to find again the scientific level of the Greco-Roman civilisations.
Nothing surprising if at the secondary school the level and the motivation for the studies were so low both of them.
There was for our children another pressing reason to go back to our country.
Far from showing hostility in the meeting with us, white westerners, the Burkinabés consider us rather as geniuses from another world, Martians of some sort. That type of racism can be pleasant to endure, at a first time. But the Martians will be always perceived as people of another type, incapable of understanding what the Burkinabés feel. You know, since I have already said it, that mutual lack of understanding was due to a bad interpretation of our cultural differences.
How the Africans can jump into our era preserving the best of their cultures?
There quite exists a method to match two cultures which are very different. We have seen it in the theoretical chapter. How the cultures can be understood and enriched without being destroyed?”.
Maybe, but the method of which I have already spoken to you, about some deep cultural exchanges, was far from being practicable since Mômmanh had just taught it to me. And then it must be realised by the high cultural authorities of two nations present. So, despite the warm welcome, of the smiles and the good humour, we were bound to remain isolated on that land, in our Martian bubble.
And then, supposing that they realised those agreements at the peak between the western cultures and the Burkinabés animism, one would have covered only half of the way. The hardest part was still left to be done : finding some families sufficiently altruistic to entrust the education of their babies to strangers and put up with the idea that their own children, having leapt in another universe, became strangers to them.
What is the principal cause of miseries in Africa?
Finally, you know why our beautiful enthusiasm at the beginning had dissolved. We had arrived young and innocent, believing that we were going to transform Africa in the twentieth century, with a touch of our magic wand. Having became aware of blockage against sciences which perpetuated in the Burkinabés families, we were from now on convinced that our beautiful mission was, at least for the decades to come, doomed to failure : Africa is not the only continent where poverty gains ground, accompanied by terrifying wars, genocides, famine... The unhappy Africans find themselves projected in an existential planetarian space with advanced scientific knowledge and to manage that modern existence, they cannot free themselves from the animist thought, so far away from the modern thought.
I will take only one example : see how they proceed to anticipate Aids.
It is because, in spite of the comfort of our exotic life, it does not cost us a lot to go back to our country in the beautiful house constructed with our savings as overseas development workers. I compared my life in Burkina Faso to the big holidays, distant from the daily cares, in an unreal world. Ah well, those long holidays had lasted a lot.
In that country where we were considered as strange Martians with advanced technology, our children were treated with a lot of affection. For whole days and even longer in case of illness, our servants watched over them, carried them in their solid arms, played with them, closer to the little ones than ourselves. But they looked at them also as young lords, and the other Burkinabés, the peasants, the vendors, the children did the same. For example, while fishing in any river, if Pablo stuck his hook to a root at the bottom, soon three or four “children” plunged to detach it. And, if it happened that these children, like all those in the world, struggle and fight sometimes, they did not dare jostle a little “toubabou”.
A delay in their studies as such could be irreparable, a superiority feeling nourished by illusions, customs of an easy life, without struggle, to start with the current use of our similar fellows, the native “servants”, for all the “domestic” tasks: our children were going to depart pretty badly prepared in life, the only without possibility of increasing. To start with, they risk strongly being unable to assure correctly their existence in France : they would be like a pampered kitten in winter and which, on their first going out in spring, succumbs to the first scratch.
This is why, after ten years of Africa, a year before Pablo's sixth birthday, we went back to France. For that important decision, we had well agreed. We started to drive in our new roots in a little city to the west which, for you, I will call Fûtaie. The children discovered that they were no longer lords and they experienced their first fights, even Estelle. Jeanne and myself, we both obtained a job at Fûtaie, at first go, which was lucky for us.
The War of the Hundred Years could start again, strengthened by the importance of the new stakes. We were no longer on a visit abroad, but at home, at our house ; our children started the study marathon for good and, since we no longer had native servants, we had to share the household tasks ; finally, after a lot of unkept promises, a deep reformation of communism was going to start. The long holidays were over, real life was going to start.
Since the new stakes were so important, since life was going to start for good, we were not going to let it be spoiled. One as well as the other, consciously or not, we were quite decided to struggle firmly to install definitely our power.
One of our favourite battlefields was the laying out of the house and garden, above all the internal part of our nest. Each one wanted to do it according to his own taste. If it is difficult to succeed a beautiful painting in two the task became downright impossible when each painted what he liked without worrying about what the other has put, if not to cover it again. Imagine what a mysterious masterpiece of art such cooperation will produce. It is however what we have done.
How many reproductions of work which I had lovingly chosen and paid for, pushing the gentleness as far as to offer them to My Love for Christmas or for a Mother's Day, how many of those beauties loaded our souls with light have they gone to look for refuge in a rubbish skip ? How many wall papers have been pulled out, and then done again at great expenses ? How many pieces of furniture, paid at bargain prices chosen by myself, have gone to try their luck at the rag man of Emmaus ? How many charming ornaments whose main fault was that it did not please me at the wrong moment fell on the tiles mercilessly ?
Now, we share the powers in our house : to Jeanne the house, and to me the garden. The criticism and the advice of the other are welcome but each one remains the master of his territory. What a waste before arriving there !...
The episodes of the tough combat stretched on many years. I ended up by accepting a strategic defeat. The setting of our battlefield was far from being my major worry : it is because I gave up little by little some ground in the hope of obtaining some concessions on the fronts which concerned me more. I emptied like this the children's rooms, then the hall, the kitchen, all the house room by room, but I never obtained the slightest concession. And the same ! Hang on ! I have come to doubt again the moments when she would have asked for my advice !...
Ah yes ! Imagine yourself, that if she felt in spite of everything the need to have my advice on her plans for decoration, she never followed the slightest of my advices. Never !... She feared so much seeing the enemy planting himself again on her territory that the slightest of my suggestions was taken as a camouflaged soldier whom I would have sent to prepare the victory again. One of her favourite expressions was the “phallic symbol”. The phallic symbols were supposed to be concealed in the majority of my favourite decors. So I had just practised an uncertain strategy : since my choices were systematically rejected, instead of expressing them, I worked out other strategies completely contrary to my tastes, with the hope that chance positioned like this would favour my true wishes. But since I am not gifted for lies, those acrobatics were not very successful : I was caught in the act of deception and Jeanne became angry.
Not only, instead of taking the good road to correct our disagreements, we plunged in the opposite directions but, on the way, new differences were formed in the shadow and then come out in the open. Those arose from the fact that we changed inevitably all through our life, at the same time as the world around us.
How we cannot stop evolution : we can only try to take control of it.
Because you know, for sure, that everything changed constantly, in the universe, everything... So, those who want to fix nature at a stage of its evolution, those who will try to freeze a society in a benign period of its history, those will at most be taxidermists.
And, tell me, can Mômmanh love them when they are preparing themselves to stop its search for existences ? Alas yes, because they are as much as we are, a part of her conscience ; she can only let them go on, the time that their task will lead them to disaster.
However, the same phenomenon as for the carnal love must produce itself. Do you remember it : Christianity wanted to uproot from our souls what it considered as dirt, but with the support of the thinkers and of the humanist poets, our old Mômmanh carried it away.
Therefore, in the course of their life, the couple changes. The attributes which made good partners for existence could vanish. Your love was young, beautiful, rich, strong, powerful and famous. Fatally, he will lose his beauty on becoming old and fragile. He can also decline more and more quickly, finding himself disfigured, handicapped, ruined, sick and in prison. So, if you love more the money than the good mood of your husband, more his youth than his intelligence and more the brilliant situation than his generosity, your fake love will be crushed as soon as there is the first accident.
Even the character of the beloved one, that to which one refers when one says: “It is not his money neither his rank which I love, it is the person.”, it can find itself changed by the alchemy of time. Even that “myself” therefore, apparently unchanged, can undergo certain changes. Like this, a dynamic and cheerful person, can exceptionally undertake to dissolve his qualities in alcohol, a good for nothing can change into a worker, and a coward can become courageous... However, that type of change that of myself, is distinctly rarer than the preceding one.
When the basis of the existential agreement called “love” is like these changed, new differences between the lovers risk appearing. Fortunately enough, we have had the chance to escape nearly totally to that type of test. The most important changes concern me.
Jeanne had married a communist, who was also quite a renowned teacher. You know what happened to my faith in “The Party”. As far as my career as teacher was concerned, it became more and more sombre, chaotic, and uncertain. At the end of that double evolution, I was an ex-communist and a contemptible teacher.
Ah well, those changes did not shake our love. And perhaps, they themselves have probably contributed to patch it up : I became aware that Jeanne was more attached to my person than to my attributes. I know I can count on her, and my love has been strengthened by it.
How each personal ideology tries to inscribe itself in a big ideological family.
Have I told you that, in the human space, every individual has his personal ideology ? Since he cannot realise the existence all alone, he looks for the greatest number possible of coreligionists, in other words, he enters in the ideological family which suits him best, on condition that he finds himself.
In the heart of that family, which one calls church or party, a common trunk of convictions shared by the greatest number is formed. Amongst the French communists, that is called “the Party Line”.
Surely, the personal ideology practically never coincides perfectly with “the line”
Here is therefore what one finds in Jeanne's personal ideology. She remains attached to communism for two reasons. One is the primordial concern for equality amongst men, concern which I share. The other is the very strong link which unites her to the martyrs of the family, above all to her father. She refuses to make a dishonouring image of them, and there again, I am with her. They were intelligent and generous, above everything. And they made history advance towards the development of human capabilities even though they were strongly deceived. She wants them to form part of posterity as they were truly, and not as the concurrent ideologies have disfigured them.
How we must give honour to enemy militants who believed to have done well.
Now, it is also what I want, since I have discovered Mômmanh and the gestation of the ideologies. I want the memory of those who have done their utmost to assure the triumph of the Existence : they were generous, even when they were severely deceived.
While reflecting well, I see a third fraternity amongst our personal ideologies : we ardently wish that sciences will manage to understand man and his history in a way so as to improve both of them.
Therefore, since we agree on those three essential points, there is not amongst us a sensible difference of ideology.
The poor state of my career risked enlarging more the split which was becoming more and more painful.
At the origin of these new setbacks, there was still the old illness of which I have spoken at length. My demon has not died : he will only lie down with me.
How a vice which has been pulled out of the subconscious is never completely uprooted.
And yet ! I am not completely sure about it. No, it was not eliminated : I kept it in its den, as best as I could and it kept itself ready to come out with the first call. Don't forget, not any more, that I would never have discovered Mômmanh without that pact with the devil. But when he has broken his chains, he resembles a furious dragon and I do not manage to control him : I need patience for that.
A short time after our return from Africa, two great stresses chained the monster. The Marxist theory of history, supposedly scientific, seemed to me to be more and more in flagrant disagreement with reality, and suddenly, I was lacking in ideology. Having lost my gods, I needed to find others, under the penalty of not having a way out till death.
First of all, I had to teach history to college students. I have not been trained for that, but that was not what bothered me most.
What history ?...
There is some good in all misfortunes : since I did not believe in it any more, I did not risk going to teach history according to Marx and betray like this the moral of Secular School.
Unfortunately, I could hardly benefit from that advantage because practically I had nothing to teach. The students looked up to their teacher, myself in this case, that I make them discover and relive the most important moments of their past. They waited for the pleasure to identify themselves with the heroes of long ago, and to trample on the bad ones. They expected a living history and I only brought them a jungle of annoying questions.
To understand as well as one can the explosion engine, that is to say to the point of being capable to reconstruct it and modify it, that extreme care of understanding everything which stopped me from sleeping, was not shared by my students. Some of them, full of good will, accompanied me just the same in that walk to the threshold of the unbearable, the moment when by sheer force of questioning, the history had lost all the reality at the same time as all the interest. Like this, the epic of Ulysses found itself transformed in an unspeakable minced meat of which even the maggots would not want.
Led by my demon, I felt quite incapable to answer to the distress of the children. It happened all the same that my personal questionings achieved some elements of reply. Surely, I wanted to make the students benefit from it : alas ! Generally those answers had such a level of abstraction that they could not grasp anything from them. Like this I had obstinately tried to explain the important role played by the birth of philosophy among the Greeks !... In particular, they had started to reflect on the human intellect and had succeeded in rendering it more performing. The progress which they had thus brought in the art of reasoning allowed them to understand how they succeeded to win the peoples distinctly superior in number. If, instead of yawning, my audience would have followed, till there, then the incredible feat of a young kind of twenty years of age, Alexander the Great who conquered the greatest empire ever assembled till then, and that only in about ten years, would have become incredible.
“The Greeks had learned to make use of their own head much better than their neighbours.” This, my students could have understood. If I had been content of that explanation within their reach, the majority would have loved my course. But my demon was at the helm. He demanded that I reached the perfect intelligence of that epic. I felt incapable of it, but the demon which you know continued to pull me till I was completely drowned. So, seeing the whole class dismayed, I started to stammer and the students moved about looking for more interesting occupations to kill the time.
In brief, when the devil kept the helm, I wanted to lead the students into my mad exigency of understanding everything and, luckily, they rebelled. Of course, I wanted to carry on and I struggled, but the demon had nearly always the upper hand, so strong was my need to understand everything perfectly, to start with history.
Like this, slowly but steadily, from year to year, I built a solid reputation of a professor whose history course was quite woolly and boring. They called me Folamour, in memory of the sinister hero of a well known film. Some graffiti in my honour flourished on the tables and the walls of the classrooms where I taught.
“Folamour P. D.
- Down with Folamour!
- Folamour are you mad ?”...
The hostile words, the actions also, increased, involving most often the students, but equally the parents. One day, while going out of the college, I was hit by the core of an apple. Many times, my car was stained. At the telephone, at all hours of the day and night, insulting messages, one more humiliating than the other, arrived in the ear of whoever picked up the phone : Jeanne, myself, the one or the other of my children... One evening, when I was at the cinema in the company of a friend in the dark hall, we were bombarded from the balcony with pieces of chewed chewing gum. In the street, in the hypermarkets, in all the public places, it often happened to me to hear the gibes : “Folamour, are you mad ?”...
Must I say more to you about it ? I was progressively led to become aware of an urgent necessity : improve the quality of my course. The strong kick on the back was therefore healthy.
Theory of the struggle for existence : of its good personal use.
To make my dragon go back into his niche and make it possible for him to stay, I looked for another more efficient means than the others, those which had just proved their lack of reliability. In time, I had discovered Mômmanh. Suddenly, I had a global answer to my nagging questioning on the eventuality laws regulating history, but I could not use in my course that unknown theory. Besides, according to scientific criteria, it could be false : I was convinced of it.
No, I used my discovery otherwise. I said to myself that nothing compelled me to control whatever it can be, that it was enough to do my best with the help of others, that I had more resources than I believed to succeed.
You know the importance of moral code. When my Mômmanh is convinced that all the resources of my being are capable of good success, she mobilises all the resources of my being. And that works ! And that starts with the daily training, of the body as well as the intellect.
No more demanding to control everything all alone, mobilise my energy to do something. No more demanding, but wanting.
In practise, I concluded that certain formulas succeeded well, doubtlessly because they are concrete and suitable to my case. Here they are : “You must not show off. “Leave that to others. Pull out your existence to your finger tips.”.
The biggest of that stress having been disposed of, it became easier to control the monster. In fact, I managed quite easily when keeping in mind its habitual pugnacity.
My history lessons were becoming very quick as it should always have been : clear and lively, on condition that there would not be too many interruptions. I thought that after some years of great efforts, the bad reputation which I had acquired would have been wiped out. I would then have become what I wished : a teacher.
Instead of that, the hostility in my regards worsened. I could not understand anything. A “chase the dahu” was launched against my person and I could not understand anything, because it was a new phenomenon in the schools.
Ah well, so much the worse : I decided to go to work in another town where my reputation would be clean. I obtained a transfer to Saint-Martin-de-Grosbois, at thirty kilometres away from La Fûtaie. I could start again on the right footing. I would be happy. Alas ! It did not take me long to realise that a new“chase the dahut” was launched again, against me.
Jeanne has some doubts about that new harassment. Moreover, she told me : “The illness of the persecution is a sign of paranoia. Go and consult a psychiatrist.” The latter stated that I was not at all paranoid and on seeing my last inspection report, that I was a good teacher. I did not ask so much to be assured. However, the absolution of the doctor of souls did not stop the pack of hounds launched to me at my heels. The new “chase the dahu” bordered on a nightmare.
I owe you some explanations. In holiday colonies of my youth, the “chase the dahu” was a practical joke aimed at the new supervisors. They presented that chase like the best moment of the holidays. The dahu, which has never existed, was, they said, a local animal with succulent flesh, but particularly timid. He lived on the hollows of the big woods, well hidden, and came out on moonless nights. They organised then a great search of which the new supervisors were the heroes. Armed with sticks, they had to wait all night at the bend of a thick pathway, for the dahu which the beaters did not fail to send them.
At the new school, that which I call “dahu hunt”, is a type of hunt aimed at the “bad” teachers, that is to say those who have the reputation of being particularly incompetent. Ah well, it happens that that reputation can be unjustified. In that model, just as the dahu is imaginary, the “bad” teacher is not real. However, the unlucky one on whom one has grafted that remark and who does not succeed in getting rid of it, that unfortunate one exists.
He has all the aspects of an ordinary person, but one cannot fail to recognise him when he is aimed at by the gibes, indeed even small missiles such as the pellets of chewed paper, acorns, chestnuts... So, one asks himself what derisory indignity is concealed under the apparent respectability of the person.
The “dahu” of modern times, from where can it come out ?... It was born, unknowingly to them, from a new behaviour of the parents. Those of long ago expected their children to respect the teachers, whoever they may be. Now, and perhaps it is a consequence of the rebellion of the sixty-eight, that duty inscribed in the tradition, the respect from which the notables benefited, does not exist any more. The doctors, the mayors, the judges, the professors are only respected if one believes that they deserve it. And even certain parents encourage their children to show their hostility towards the “bad teachers”. As long as that doesn't infringe on the rights of man, that counter-democratic power is progress.
It must be only that. But a good principle can be found in opposition to one of his colleagues : another good principle.
In class, the children need a teacher, in the noble sense of the word. If the parents have withdrawn their power from the teacher, how can he be that teacher ? Upset, scorned, if he does not manage to change opinion, he is condemned to be only a “bad” teacher for as long as his time of hard labour has not yet passed.
There are also, and they are more and more numerous, some parents who believe that the “bad” teacher is the only person responsible for the bad results of their children. Therefore, those poor little ones deprive him of his confidence. Their resistance which is not always passive adds its negative effects to the disorder already existing : the class strays from the “bad” professor who, unless he receives improbable help, has no longer the possibility to be a teacher. Even if he wasn't a “bad” teacher, he has become so and it rests that way, prisoner of that trap, without the possibility of a change.
Why can a“good” professor be a victim of that process ?...
No, it is not the author's fiction. Some of them, even for whom the situation was particularly unbearable, have died because of it. Yes, it is true !...
How the children feel responsible only in front of their parents.
As long as they have not got over the turbulent zone of the adolescent crisis, it is only in front of the parents that the students feel truly responsible. And yet ?... It is the privilege of their age : life is only a game, that is to say training before the start of the actual existence . It is Mômmanh who has wanted it : like this, the little man has all the time to form himself well during numerous years of youth so that he is on time, later on, to answer the immense hope placed in front of him.
“- And the hunt for dahu ? - Behold !... Behold. That can happen like this.”
Some persons worthy of trust have spread a rumour within the college : “A professor particularly useless has just been appointed with us. It is a pity ! What teaching are our children going to receive ? What reputation is our college going to have ? Our students are going to attend the private school, the l'Immaculée Conception and some amongst us are going to lose their place... What about the prestige in our school ? And the back up of the secular ideal, do you think about it?...”
A first element of the trap is in place. To the rest.
Like in any college, there are children who wish to evade scholastic work, even if it were on temporary basis. One finds also those who do not want to suffer because of their bad marks. If bad teachers can take on the responsibility of their failure, they will be relieved. No matter how slight their selfishness is, they look for victims among their teachers : whether he is a truly incompetent one, or whether he is a dahu. The new professor of history carries a big notice on his back : “Completely useless”. The small hunters are ecstatic : “Oh by Jove ! What a magnificent dahu has arrived here !”
To start with, one observes him. The rumour continues to circulate. It increases. The 5th P is particularly motivated for that type of action. They set going an armoured vehicle, that is to say one of the worst students of the class, who at some time, hates studies, adores disorder and does not fear punishments. He throws ink on the student next to him, the most studious of the class, provokes a scandal, receives a punishment from the professor, protests violently and with insolence, finds himself at the office of the assistant head, Mr. Ventoux.
“- You again ! You start the year well ! What have you done, this time ?
- I have done nothing. It is the history professor who is accusing me...
- Stop ! I know that sing song by heart. Who is your history professor ?
- Réveillac. He is completely useless.
- MonsieurRéveillac, if you please !
- Monsieur Réveillac. We do not understand anything he says. And then, he is always breathing down my neck.
- Monsieur Réveillac ! Yes, yes, I know... The professors, they are exactly like your parents : one does not chose them. But that is no reason for your lack of respect for him. Your detention is approved and you will not forget to show me the work he has given you...”
The assault tank accomplishes its mission : “Good ! I have my detention, I agree, but it is only because Ventouse cannot do otherwise. It is necessary that he backs his professors, otherwise it will be a complete brothel ! In any case, he cannot fire Réveillac, that is sure, but he can take the necessary precautions, young fellow !... It is all good !...”
The 5th P sends messages to all the classes concerned. The graffiti in my honour begin to flourish everywhere, on the tables, on the walls, on the covered playground, on the benches in the yard : “Ravaillac. Ravaillac Useless. Ravaillac PD...” The “hunt for the dahu” is launched.
In all the meetings of the class at the end of the term, in front of my colleagues and a member of the administration, in public therefore, it is always me and quite often me only that the delegates of the class or representatives of the parents reproach. The latter all the same have a quality : their rich variety. It happened that a student's parent poses on me a long, long, look filled with heavy reproaches which lead me to understand to which extent my presence is unbearable. And where can I go therefore ?
In that college, three fourths of the children belonged to the cultured families. The remaining quarter had the majority of the weak children. The latter were placed in assisted classes, for the less motivated. Consequently, the other classes had most often a very good level. None of my students had ever obtained 20/20 mark for the trimester in “geo-history”: ah well, in that college that happened plenty of times. The 5th P was no exception : it had its share of stars and good students. Their intelligence expressed itself particularly well in the way in which they led the “hunt for the dahut”.
In the other classes, the process which I described had a spontaneous character and unfolded itself in confusion. The agitators of the 5th P, themselves, analysed it, as I have done for you, and they led their operation methodically, as future executives which they were. In the first place, they did not want above all to spoil their studies. Therefore, they concentrated their hunt only on three courses : history-geography, English and music. During the class council, their principal professor could even compliment them : “They are so gentle !...” So, the three pathetic professors, so useless that they have known how to render aggressive these “gentle ones”, you understand that they looked for in vain, in the council hall transformed into a tribunal, a place where to hide their shame.
Like this, their “hunt for the dahu” was conducted in a methodical manner. Here is another illustration. Their class counted on three “assault tanks”, type of students of whom I have already spoken. They could have hated the college if, kindly enough, their studious comrades had not offered them a golden opportunity : conduct the disorder against the dahus. So, they could finally exist within the educational community. What luck ! One of them was surprised while speaking about me : “But why does he look at me as if I were a criminal ? I don't do anything wrong !” Another one, the most enthusiasts on the way to social exclusion, considered that he had accomplished his mission with the history professor. He wanted to develop his action as benefactor. To the agitators of the class, the future high executives, he asked:
“- Can we bring down mother Lavion ? She's a loose woman.
- No, replied the leaders, with a sign of their head.
- Ah yes... And the bio. Professor, then, Jordan. He is a holy stupid bastard, that one.
- No, they answered making signs with their head.”
In another 5th, another year, a student delegate of the class enticed his assault tank and asked him.
“- So ? And Ravaillac ?
- So, nothing for the time being. Yet I put the parcel, there, you can believe me ! But he tightens his teeth...”
A lot of signs of which I have just listed the most fearful which converged in a direction of a unique conclusion : in the teaching, Réveillac is useless. I felt that everybody, or nearly everyone, had that opinion of me, an opinion which reinforced itself thanks to the efficiency of the “hunt for the dahu”.
How does other people's look affect my existence ?
The look of the others is a mirror into which we must look. Remember that it forms part of the second existential human base : the links with others.
Although one cannot help being deformed, we manage generally to make the best of that mirror, but my colleagues' look sent me somebody else's image, to whom I would not have liked to resemble. Accepting that fake portrait of myself, trying to conform to it, turn myself into derision, install myself like this in the human family, “Professor Folding” for lifetime, sent from one college to another like a ping-pong ball : was I going to make that choice in order to avoid being alone ?
Certainly no. Besides, my dear colleagues forbade it.
About two-thirds among them blacklisted me. Nobody called me Georges : I had at last become a “Mister”, “Mister Réveillac”. Once I entered the staffroom, I said “good morning” and, as usual, nobody answered. I noticed a group of colleagues united around a table : all the history-geography professors in meeting. All except myself. One of them explained himself : “Mister Réveillac, are you a history professor ?”
The epidemic had hit the majority of classes where I tried to teach. To control the disorder, I did not find a more energetic remedy except for the detention. The trouble makers punished like this, received through the intermediary of the parents, the “detention sheet” inviting them to pass two hours in the study room to do supplementary work. Under the pressure of the hunters, I was led to put more and more “detentions”, avoiding abusing of them. In spite of that, my detentions seemed more and more inefficient. One day I had the explanation : the administration often forgot to send them to their parents.
I am not going to compel you to accompany me till the end of tests which last as much as some years. I was capable of straightening the situation slowly and surely, starting from the arrival of a new principal who paid in person to stop the “hunt for the dahu”.
While waiting for the arrival of the rescue, I managed to keep on and survive without much damage, and that was mostly due to another “good” class : the 5th O. Not only did they treat me like a teacher, but they protected me. They dared combine some praising graffiti to the gibes which overwhelmed me : “Réveillac, nice”.
Oh by Jove !... What a lot of good that did to me !...
In the meeting of the 5th O, I did not hear any reproaches.
The generous students gave me a present still, which might seem insignificant, but which I have only seen once in my career. During a lesson, a squirting of ink stained my clothes, shirt and trousers. That happened five or six times during the year. I raised my shoulders and continued the lesson. I turned my back to write on the blackboard some phrases of the summary. When I looked again at the class, a student came to me and said : “I am sorry, sir. It is I who has thrown the ink on you. I did not do it on purpose : when I pressed the cartridge in my pen, it burst in my hands...”
Other people came to the rescue. There was a group of attendants who always treated me like an ordinary man, worthy of respect and friendship. Some colleagues had that attitude as well.
How the females know how to sense the value of a man without necessarily being able to figure it out.
And then, there are the eyes of the females. Mômmanh, remember, has given them the power to detect the existential value of man, without being necessarily capable of seeing how she expresses herself: they can detect gold, but they are not capable to recognise it when it is hidden in nature.
Ah well, some deep female looks sent me messages of encouragement.
Thanks to all the combined help, the deforming mirror of the look of others ceased to fascinate me. No, no and no !... I was never going to drown in those untruthful waters. I plucked up courage and I could hold on till the arrival of that brave principal.
Oh ! But what a crazy thing I did ! I was going to forget the most important : Jeanne. Yes My Love had rejected me during that test, when for me it was impossible to leave my family before Estelle met her death, another tragedy would arrive.
Since she did not believe that great rumour, I could think that her loving feeling was still more deformed than that of my colleagues. I preferred reasoning : since we lived together for such a long time in a profound intimacy, she knows me better than my mother. When I was on the verge of no longer believing in myself, neither in others, that type of reasoning gave me back a big part of lost confidence.
Since Jeanne stayed with me in the sorrowful period, it was that she loved me more than my reputation. She simply loved me, and that love of my well-beloved gave me the courage to struggle on when I was on the verge of letting the stream carry the dam. After every day of the combat, there was a night with my bloody well-beloved. The warmth which electrified her body against mine recharged my batteries. In the morning, I felt cheered up, ready to face again the pack of hounds. And so much the worse if you take me for a fool.
Have I introduced our children to you. It seems no, with the exception of Estelle. There were three, born at Ouagadougou. Pablo, the eldest, very serious, was very fond of his mother. Then came Estelle, the little mother, so gracious, who adored her father. Thomas, malicious, curious of everything, delighted to be a child, was the third. In spite of everything, we had not led to the collapse of their education because they were worth more than us.
“- Are they happy, you would ask me ?
- From time to time, like everybody. It is not the question which is important.
- And Estelle ?
- Be silent !...”
Who directs the education of the children?
The children learn the existence from their parents or their substitute: Mômmanh has made them like this. I have had to repeat that.
Ah well, our war for leadership could have complicated dangerously that learning. “- Go to sleep, it is time. - No, you can watch TV. - I am going to enrol you for a judo course. - No, you will do footing. - Help me to peel the potatoes. - No, you are going to pick strawberries and raspberries. - You will go to a private school. They will know how to make you work. - Surely not. We are the type to go to the Public School, we. And we are proud of it !... imagine that they had to choose between two opposite wills all the time. Are we going to be torn apart all our life ?”
We were as much capable of avoiding the greatest of dangers. The selfishness nourished during our dear childhood did not lead us to devour our very own children : that parasite hidden in our existence demanded only that each of us would be an adulated leader. In that vast domain, he pushed the others till his rank as subordinate, but he did not forbid the other aspects of altruism which our families had taken care to cultivate in us : the sharing, the dedication, the solidarity, the courage... Furthermore, that secret selfishness could not go far under the risk of being unmasked, uprooted from its converted den in the subconscious and condemned by our conscience. It was necessary to give up the pace to the official authorities of our myself, the altruists.
The child learns within the family what he must know to succeed later on in his mission as man. The girl discovers that she will be a “mother” and, to start with, she falls in love with her father. In the same way, the boy falls in love with his mother. It is not rare that an adolescent dreams of having had an incestuous action, and wakes up at the moment when he is spreading the semen on his sheets. Ashamed of having done such a thing, in his dream, he understands that it is time for him to leave the family cocoon. And his mother's skirts, to face the vast ocean of the external universe and inscribe there his own adventure. He goes to look for a beauty, to his convenience, and tries to conquer her.
When a little boy wants to seduce his mother, the simplest way is to take as a model he whom she loves : father. That dispenses him from having to guess his tastes and above all to discover alone how to realise them. For example, if mother loves the ingenious type who knows how to fix all the unmanageable objects of daily life, how can the little boy acquire alone the mastery of that magic ? He is quite compelled to learn from his father or from a supply teacher.
But we, indigenous parents, absorbed in our war for leadership, how could we answer that need ? We did not even think about it. Carried away by our rage to win, we bombarded the portrait of our dear bloody adversary with some missiles altogether demeaning the ones as well as the others. It was up to the children to sort it out. That situation complicated their life a lot, but it was also stimulating for their intellect. Being unable to know what was good in the paternal model thus feeling queasy, the boys tried to discover at source their dear mother's tastes, then to satisfy them if possible. The exercise could prove to be particularly complex. Estelle had to put up with the same problem.
Moreover we were overcome by pity when, behind the smoke of our artillery shots, we discovered them completely disorientated. There was an immediate ceasefire and our first concern was to give them back the reality : “But no, dear Pablo, your father is not an idiot. He is even very intelligent, imagine. He wants to understand everything and he reflects a lot : it is for that that I love him...”, or rather: “But no, my dear little red princess ! Treasured mother is not a factory of s... ! She simmers lovingly with her beauty all day. And then, she is curious of everything that one can have everywhere, everywhere !... even elsewhere. She dashes with her head down after she believes to have discovered some nuggets in a puddle of water, and this happens twenty times daily. That is why I love her, your dear mother.”
Therefore, when passion led us too far away, we took some security measures in order to protect our children. Alas ! Quite often the mad war of the leaders led us to the danger zone.
The accident always happens to the others: on a beautiful evening of May, it was our turn to realise that cruel stupidity.
That came on us in the usual style : everything happened too quickly.
The feminist movement had entered the phase which it was following now: public opinion backed the total emancipation of woman, and men in conflict with their companion suffered an unfavourable prejudice. Imagine how My Love could push ahead in that prepared ground. Moreover, having a primary concern, the bloody hunt for the “dahu”, I found myself in a very vulnerable situation. It was enough that Jeanne abandoned her general principles and I was ripe to fall under her blow.
However, before launching her great offensive, she led me for consultation at the marriage counsellor : in vain. Since the counsellor for couples in distress was a woman, I doubted her impartiality. Jeanne consented to accompany me to the psychologist. Although he was a man, this time, the result was not better. Nobody could help us to take care of our love. But what soul surgeon is capable, at that time, to force our subconscious to open itself ?...
A great explosion was necessary for that, a terrifying stress. To pull us out of our passions, strength greater than that which alienated us was necessary. Since neither the attractions of happiness nor of love managed to create that force for our children, it was quite necessary that a great unhappiness terrified us and gave us finally the courage to discover in ourselves some unhealthy elements.
Not only, life is a mortal illness, but it is constantly under the threat to be blown away like the flame of a candle...
So, the Hundred Years War was intensifying itself. There were no longer any truces. Each fighter threw all his strength in the battle : it was our Verdun.
How the rash pass from one extreme to the other.
You have not forgotten how Jeanne is rash : she answers immediately to the slightest stress, without taking time to cover the field of existential possible answers : selfish and altruistic. I believe that it is necessary to look for the origin of a strange behaviour : of an unpredictable manner, she perhaps can be all selfish during some weeks or, during other periods, show herself all altruistic.
I imagine the following process : if one perspective of pleasure, or the opposite, tickles strongly and leads her ego to command, she is going to take care of the last one for such a long time that it will remain in the first rank. What can dislodge it from there ? Ah well, it is necessary that a great emotion seeks altruism so that in its turn, the latter will take up the direction of the existential operations.
Yes, we perhaps keep there the explanation of the strange phenomenon. Having a lot of difficulties to take the retreat, my impulsive Jeanne will remain hanging on for some weeks to her ego, afterwards she will be prisoner of altruism, and then a new identical cycle will start. In the same way, when she follows a debate, she agrees with the latter who has spoken, provided that however he has been a good lawyer.
Ah well, Jeanne was going through an exceptionally long period of nearly complete selfishness.
She had reached the peak moment the evening when I perceived that the saving book was empty : she had planned that money to the purchase of a new car.
“- I was ashamed when I went to work in my rusty tub which served me as a car.
- But, they are our savings ! You took them without even talking to me about it...
- No ! No, poor sick one ! You will not start to harass me. I will not let you be.
- Oh ! Tell me that I am dreaming. Not only you steal my savings, but you have the guts to accuse me ! And what am I capable of ?
- Of stinginess ! Of unbearable stinginess. You hatch yours well like a stupid chick hatches eggs in a plaster. And we, during that time, there we lived miserably.
- But ! But !... - Besides, I do not want to talk to you any longer !”
And she went out quickly banging the door. She headed towards her new car. I jumped and I caught her before she opened the door. Then ?... Then ?... What crossed my mind so that I got to the point of hitting her ?
Estelle and Thomas ran, pulled me as best as they could and protected their mother. I felt degraded to the rank of the animal, a poor animal that had only his impotent strength to try to survive. I was so ashamed ! But what could I do ?... What could I do ? Good God ! Faced with the intolerable ?...
I jumped into my car and I went in the middle of the forest, our great vigorous forest quite bushy with oaks and beech trees some of which have seen the passing of many centuries. Was I to take advice from the trees whose patience has its roots in time ? Yes, it was that : I needed time to find a way out of the trap which was killing me.
To start with, I wandered aimlessly across the thickets shouting and uttering sobbing which should have moved the surrounding environment. But neither plants, nor animals, not even a fly, nobody paid attention to me. I stayed up however to stay well hidden, because the “chase for the dahu” had not yet finished : if I were surprised by one of the tormentors, the local gossipers announced to all, that this time, I had become completely mad.
Therefore, nobody paid attention to me. However, I believed I heard voices. Who was talking to me ? It was not the crows, because I did not understand any of their irritating cacophony. The other birds, all on their business, were not addressing me any more than by chirping. Was that coming from the source which for five thousand years dug its nest in the mossy rock ? No : I was in no state to understand its sweet murmur.
Across all those actors of nature, trying hard to fatten up our planet Earth, it is Mômmanh who spoke to me. “- How is that ? And in which language, if you please ?... Listen : since you are not stupid like me, you will know how to find yourself.” Here you are, some details approximately, of what our conversation was like.
“- Georges, my little one, I see you despairing. You are in a dead end. And then?... There is often a way out : the way which I lent you, you give it back to me. What is there simpler ?
- And who can therefore replace me ? Nobody, since I am unique.
- Unique : yes. Irreplaceable : no. A little handyman who believes he is an inventor, you will not even know how to produce the first brick as a living. Look at all the roads which I have created by feeling in my blind universe, the billions of billions of energetic roads, which at any moment push ahead the existence and which are a good road to conquer space and time, those deceitful two which would like to slip away in their mad race. As regards all that, you can count much less than the most insignificant grain of sand in the Sahara.
- But I discovered you !... Mômmanh, and nothing knows it. Therefore, nobody can use that knowledge to improve the human existence and the walk of the world.
- And so ? The intelligence which I have given you, favoured by the circumstances, has known well how to discover itself ! Ah well, sooner or later, other intelligences will reach it too.
- Other intelligences ! Surely not. I am the first. That discovery belongs to me. Besides, I am going to write my name on it and take out a patent for it so that nobody can take it from me.
- And humanity in that business ? Supposing that you have done a real discovery, isn't humanity a priority, since she needs it ? Do you want to disinherit her and close the treasure in your ego as much inflated as perishable ? Do you want to put the discovery to rot ?
- No Mômmanh. It is hard, but I don't have another way. While waiting, the idea of dying without being able to transmit what I believe I know, that idea there is borne with difficulty.
- Accept that eventuality, since you have no choice. It is life... And then, it will not be so serious since, I repeat it, your discovery is supposed to be feeble, others will do it one day or another.
- And since that does not happen, a band of idiots can quite well burst our world.
- And then ?... You know that I am gifted with infinite other resources, to start with the living planets.
- So, I am not indispensable to you : therefore, I can die. Thanks just the same.
- For nothing.”
So, little by little, death seemed sweet. My sobbing ceased. It was a beautiful summer evening, the sun was still high in the sky. I sat on a dead trunk, close to the spring. I tried to imagine my immersion into nothingness. “Farewell everything. I cannot take any more. Continue without me.” The wiping out of Georges Réveillac seemed bearable, even soothing.
I asked myself what will happen if all the human beings reacted like this. At the outcome of my reflection, I was not proud. I imagined Jeanne and the children deprived of my help and I felt pity. You also, although to a slight extent, unknown readers. I had pity on you : without the new means which the theory of “The Struggle for Existence” brings to us, will you know how to pull humanity from the noisy and the disorderly assembly ? So, I called Mômmanh again.
How is the important to render itself useful.
“- Mômmanh, if you please, tell me... I am not indispensable I agree, I have understood that well and I do not dread any longer death. But perhaps I can be useful. No?
- Quite sure that you can be useful. And now, you sort out yourself. I gave you the lucid intelligence. You will quite well succeed to do something, Good Blood !”
The desire to die blurred itself. I had that idea before plunging irreversibly into nothingness, I had perhaps other cards to play. I turned all the pockets of my memory and I found that memory : “There are people who divorce.” I started to become aware of the chains stretched forth which tore me apart. Soon, I can start to undo them.
It was about two demands which made me their slave. I have already spoken about the second, but I was not yet ready to tackle it myself : it was the unwavering will to be the head of the family.
I have already told you, isn't it so, how that type of demand hindered our existence : at first by diverting the resources which we would be able to dedicate to multiple objectives, afterwards by paralysing us when she finds herself in conflict with other imperatives of life.
Behold therefore the first of the two demands for me in my family, all perspective of divorce or separation was unheard of.
The bonds of marriage are indissoluble. Divorce is a monstrosity which trains the decay of the couples, at the same time as the definite catastrophes, above all if there are children. It is forbidden, I had inherited during my childhood, in the peasant family some catholic traditions well grounded. As usual, one had forgotten for a long time the primary causes of its establishment, buried in the distant past. Like this, in my family of peasant origin, the divorce has remained under control until now and it only started to make a discrete apparition in the last generation of citizens.
During the course of my formation at the Normal School, that ban had already suffered a strong erosion. For as long as there were no children in the couple, if one of the two wanted to go away, in the name of freedom we think it's right to do it. But, if there are children, we strongly disapprove of divorce. In the formation of the personality, Freud has put in evidence the essential role of the family : the dislocation of the latter took therefore in our eyes the colours of crime as regards the children.
I have stopped there. It was the chains which rendered my life impossible. In my family I demanded to be the leader, because of which, I was going away. I had already done it on my return from Austria, remember. Yes, but at that stage of our love, we were not married and, above all, there were only two of us. Now, this time, I could not go since the divorce risked destroying our children.
An idea was circulating in the air and from time to time touched me lightly, without my ever giving it attention. That evening there, in the heart of the forest, near the spring, the broken shell of my conscience let it enter : “A successful divorce is better than a failed marriage.” I started to work on that idea.
New convictions came out of it which I hand over to you. I am always attached.
When the little man reaches the age of an adult, he cannot grow bigger. So much the worse if he has failed his belief : it is too late, he will remain undeveloped all his life. It is the same for the formation of his soul : tastes, values and intelligence. When the time of learning his existence is over, it is too late from now on to do everything again. One can only practice a little surgery of the soul to overcome, as we have seen it do, certain defects easy to bear. And yet ! you know how that risks being painful without as much as assuring the recovery definitely.
It is necessary that, from their birth till their maturity, the parents are in a position to nourish the body and soul of the little one.
And if, in spite of all their efforts they cannot manage ? So, they have to look for a substitute to their weak family. Such a transplant necessitates big precautions.
Besides everything, the second element of human existence, love, must be preserved in the soul of the little ones. If they believe to discover that it is not a stall holder ball which explodes with the slightest choc, how can they love from now on ?
While I was conducting that reflection, the acceptance of divorce instilled itself in me. To live without My Love and away from my children was a painful perspective, certainly, but not desperate as my situation of two hours earlier, then when I looked for refuge and consolation in the forest. The chain of marriage could break : I was free to evade from the theatre of the War of the Hundred Years whose only issue seemed to be the demolition of us all. So I elaborated a plan.
I proposed to Jeanne to go towards the divorce in stages, the definitive rupture intervened only after the failures of the attempts to agree. To start with, I would ask to be sent abroad.
To the children, we would tell the truth, everything simply, but paying attention not to hurt them severely. Yes, we would love them always. And for ever !... It was good because we did not want any longer that our quarrels without end would continue to make them suffer... I would write to them. I would spend the holidays with them, at least a part...
Why the devil was it necessary that the presentation of that plan transformed itself into a violent confrontation where it was a question of brutal separation or conflictual divorce ?
“- Jeanne, I believe that I am going to ask for a transfer abroad.
- Do you believe or are you sure ? There you are beating round the bush. I have a job myself ! I don't have any time to lose in dribbling ravings. So ?... What twisted blow are you on the verge of simmering ?
- There is no simmering blow. We cannot carry on like this. It is bad for the children as well as for us. And that does not lead anywhere.
- You believe you can kick me with a pathetic blackmail to divorce. How could I have married such a nullity ? Go away ! And above all do not retreat this time ! Clear the camp ! I hope only for that. What a relief ! Ah but, what a relief !... From now on there are two big feasts in the year : Christmas and the anniversary of your departure. It will be like the feast of the liberation, in 45, when they burnt the effigy of Hitler...”
I have had to be patient as I know how to do now. I knew it already, the step adopted in that situation. Since Jeanne was trained at the same time by her ego in madness and by her anger doubled by rashness, I had to wait till altruism came to the helm, that which could not be late. Instead of that, in the first squabble, I launched myself head low in the stupid War of the Leaders.
“- Jeanne, please do not reverse our responsibilities, even when it is possible. Up till now, it is you who have made me the blackmail of divorce, to make me walk on all fours. When you trivialized that infamous divorce, in the Parisian way and of your family, you knew that for me, it was an unheard of crime.
Nothing doing : I cannot divorce !
Then, you were keen on it !... your blackmail, to bend me to your whims. Everyday, you brandished it like a whip loaded with nails. Ah well, it is over ! No ! No, this time, you are going to listen to me till the end.
It is over, I say to you. I am free. And do not believe above all that it is a twisted blow.
I accept the divorce.
Whew !... From now on you can always try to make the birds walk at their pace, because for me, it is over. And I do not believe that you can find another fool to disgust. In any case, I ... ! On foot, on horseback, by car and even by plane. Thanks for having freed me.”
For once, she remained voiceless, open mouthed. I had finally my last word. Sinister stupid! I went out, without stumbling, banging the door.
In the shadow of the corridor, the waves of red hair brushed against me. I jumped as if I had received an electric charge but, to my resentment, I was happy to say : “Hold on ! Estelle, what are you doing there?” and I did not listen even to the reply.
The following day was a Wednesday. After my theatrical coup on the eve, the family atmosphere was sinister. I had slept in the caravan which was waiting near the house a hypothetical departure on holidays. Jeanne had not spoken to me and, that time, I was quite set not to try reconciliation before two or three days. I wanted like this to soak my will never again to escape divorce and convince Jeanne of that completely new determination.
I relieved my suffering simulating, in my thought, my life alone, far away from my family. From time to time, I managed to accept it and the headache which had been in my skull retreated. As to the losses which I would have suffered, I imagined the compensations : look for another love, enjoy the freedom acquired... I felt nearly cured.
It was probable that I had some illusions. Whatever it could be, I never had the possibility to verify it by means of experience. Destiny was preparing itself to surprise me.
In the afternoon, I had to conduct Estelle to the dancing lesson. Exceptionally, we were both silent. For the time being, I did not want to alarm our children by making them part of my change in attitude faced with a divorce. As far as our violent dispute of the preceding day, it seemed that it did not have to affect them more than the preceding one.
As usual, I parked the car in a small parking place, at about a hundred metres from the school and, as usual, I set about accompanying the little one as far as the entry. Half way, she stopped, saying : “Look, papa.” On the edge of the pavement, in front of the way, she closed her eyes... and crossed the road running. There was a little flow and one single car had to slow to avoid Estelle. On the pavement in front, she cried to me:
“- Papa ! Papa ! Have you seen ? I am lucky, hey ? Now, I am coming back.
- No ! I screamed.”
But the impossible monstrosity had already taken place.
That bleeding mass on the asphalt...
You know the rest.
Life must go on. Life continues.