Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘book review

“The most beautiful History of Man”

Apparently, we are not permitted to look at our ancestors, 100,000 years ago, with condescendence:

we are the same in nature, in heredity, in intelligence, in behavior, in mode of life, in our imaginary,…

We have the same identity and we didn’t change much from prehistorical mankind, before he moved up one step in the ladder toward settling down in urban centers (the neolitic phase, 10,000 years ago)

Note: “The most beautiful History of Man” is a French book, a collection of three interviews with Andre Langaney, Jean Clottes, Jean Guilaine, and Dominique Simonnet…

Note 2:

How Neoliberal expatriate Contractor Class is managing the contracted national debt in Lebanon?

How neoliberalism is applied in your country?

Neoliberalism is not a difficult concept to comprehand: Just observe its applications and consequences on your survival instinct.

The best way to understand neolibralism in the western developed nations is to witness how developing States are applying it.

Particularly, new small States recognized in the UN that were under direct mandated powers for many decades, and now are appeasing their former “masters” in order to enrich the oligarchy ruling class these under-developped “nations” are sustaining.

How neoliberalism is applied in Lebanon?

Together with the governor of the Central Bank and the Prime Minister, the minister of Finance is a crucial player in the management of government debt.

From 1992, late Rafik Hariri PM, and later the Hariri clan hoarded the control of these three institutions.

The policy adopted in 1993 pegged the Lebanese currency to the US dollar. What that means?

The State borrows on behalf of the government large sums of loans that are not needed to finance the deficit.

The borrowing mechanism is basically a political decision to get the State tightly linked to outside multinational financial institutions… Institutions that the ruling class has invested in and wants to generate quick profit in this globalization era… at the expense of the people they claim to work for their benefit…

This scheme drove up the demand for the Lebanese currency, raised the interest rates on government debt, and high interest returns for depositors (reaching 30% at determined periods as the Future Movement spread the words among its elite class to deposit) and the new expatriate Contractor wealthy class of billionnaires…

Leading the country into a dept trap.

A debt ever increasing ($60 bn) and absorbing a third of the government budget, every year since 1992.

Servicing the interest of the debt has one purpose: Keeping the new neoliberal Contractors class in control of the management of the financial and economic institutions.

The main benefiaciaries were commercial banks and their wealthy depositors: Lebanon financial and economic elite classes (new expatriate contractors, warlords, oligarchic politicians…) have the necessary savings to invest in government debt instruments.

The notion of neoliberalism is that, as long as the government maintains the confidence of the elite classes in the soundness of the financial policy, the situation can remain in control, precariously in control, and relying mainly on foreign support for the policy.

The IMF working paper from 2008 mentions that the continuous rollover of Lebanon debt depends on an “implicit guarantor” from donors and international financial institutions.

And who is the main donor guarantor? It is Saudi Arabia absolute wahhabi monarchy.

This Saudi Kingdom

1.  Bought up Lebanon government bonds when investors refused to buy the bonds

2. It provided the largest chunk of concessionary loans at Paris 2 donor conference in 2002, and Paris 3 in 2007

3. It transfered One $bn to the central bank during Israel preemptive war in June 2006.

Consequently, the governor of the central bank, PM and finance minister must satisfy Saudi Arabia confidence!

The Hariri clan main objective was to deepen neoliberal economic “reforms”.

Former Fouad Seniora PM reiterated the neoliberal program, including privatization of State-controlled entities, welfare “reforms“, politically aimed at curtailing patronage opportunities of political rivals to the Future Movement…

However, Seniora could not pull off his wishes of abolishing the Council of the South (a Box of money controlled by Parliament chairman and worlord Nabih Berri) or the Central Fund for the Displaced “sandouk al mouhajjareen” (controlled by the Druze warlord Walid Jumblatt)

For over two decades, the Hariri clan attached a dozen public institutions to the Prime Minister, controlled the municipality of Beirut, extendit building permits to its elites and the foreign investors and dropping any resistrictions when convenient, assigning public contracts to the “Future Elite contractors” and entrepreneurs at manyfold the proper cost, extending their hold on Solidere for 75 years, never accounting for the bids on Sukleen which collect waste in Beirut at $100 per ton while costing $30 in Zahle for example…

The current “national debt” has skyrocketed to reach $70 bn, even after 2 decades of paying high interest rates. In addition to funding the warlord “reconstruction chests”, part of the loans were used to paying the tribute to the Syrian oligarchy, since lebanon was under Syria mandated power till 2005.

Mind you that Syria, after 2001, began a neoliberal policy for its oligarchic elite class, and privatizing new public institutions such as the mobile telecommunication and oil extraction and grandiose Real Estates development in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus…

Note 1: The oil boom increased the number of Lebanese workers in the Arab Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia within a decade from just 50,000 in 1970 to well over 210,000 in 1980, or one third of Lebanon work force.

Note 2: Post inspired from two chapters written by Fabrice Balanche and Hannes Baumann in the book “Lebanon after the Cedar Revolution

Note 3: A wealthy international neoliberal club requires from its members to extract profit from their own country, as a proof of allegiance to global neoliberalism, in order to facilitate the infusion of unwarrented loans to their corresponding State.

Have you witnessed that almost all current prime ministers, finance ministers and governors of central banks in Europe, the USA and many other countries were “employees” at the IMF, the World Bank , World Commerce institutions and international financial corporations?

Note 4: Basically, the expatriate billionnaire contractors initially got the blessing of the former civil war warlords (Nabih Berri, Walid Jumblatt, Samir Jagea… supported by Syria, Saudi Arabia and the US neoliberal financial institutions) who were brought back to power, and then managed their financial porfolio and financed the election campaigns as political allies…

Doppelganger? Or what promise of exclusive love does to you…

Do you believe in magic? Like the possibility of your shadow gaining autonomous existence and turning against you?

It was 1915 in Berlin. Hermann Blocklin is a master clock maker, and a perfectionist who decided to build the most exacting universal watch.

Andreas Corelli is a mysterious client who wants his watch to turn counter clockwise. Why?

Corelli’s time is counted: He is terminally ill and wants to to observe how much time is left for him on earth.

Lots of gold coins convinced Blocklin to pour in his soul on the fabrication of this special order clock. Two weeks later, Corelli is satisfied with his order.

The next morning, the miror is reflecting an older Hermann. The energy and power of Hermann are fainting quickly by the hours.

Hermann is about to lose his mind in terror when Andreas shows up and reminded Hermann that the body cannot stay young when the soul is gone: Hermann body must show signs of getting older, unless Hermann promise Andreas to extend him a favor.

“I’ll offer you back your youth in exchange of handing me your useless shadow” And a deal is struck.

Andreas captures the shadow of Hermann in a perfume bottle and close it tightly.

The watch instantly reversed its course and started running clockwise.

The next day, Hermann is getting much younger, but he found his adored cat hanging from the lamp string, all his furniture torn apart, and all his working equipment destroyed…

And Hermann saw an obscure reflexion of himself, diabolically observing him: Hermann’s shadow has turned against him.

For the next 25 days, a murder was committed every day, and witnesses claimed that they saw Hermann in the vicinity of the crime scene.

Hermann was in jail, and yet, the crime victims continued unabatted. It could not be Hermann, but Hermann knew better what was happening.

On jan. 12, 1916, Hermann was found dead in his cell with a dagger in his heart, and the crime strings stopped completely.

Did Hermasnn committed suicide to end the fatalities?

Did the shadow lost it and forgot that its existence depends on its master’s body.

The shadow cannot survive his master’s death.

Is that what happens when you promise a person exclusive love? Being the shadow of the other person?

Is that what is referred to as soul mate?

Or an entity pressuring you to promise exclusive love?

Note: This gothic story was taken from “The lights of September” by Cartlos Ruiz Zafon.

“Are you sure, comrade Aliide”?

The interrogator asks Aliide:” Where is Hans”? (the husband of her older sister Engel and an Estonian nationalist)

Aliide: “Hans is dead. Killed by roaming gangs in the forest…”

Are you sure, comrade Aliide?”

“Hans is dead”

The tchekist (Soviet security agent) said: “I have done all that is possible to help you. I can do nothing now”

Those people in long chromed leather boots and leather black coats attached the hands of Aliide behind her back, and dropped a jute bag over her head.

She could see nothing. Water dripped on the floor of the cave beneath the municipality. The odor of the humid cave spilled out the door.

Aliide shirt was torn apart and her chest bared. She was transformed into a mouse in a corner, a fly on a lamp, a rusty thumbtacks on the wall..

Blood under the skin of her chest, the hematoma of her tits were inflated. As the skin of the naked woman touched the floor, she didn’t move. This body with a bag over her head was now a stranger, she never existed, she was a root going deeper under the soil.

Aliide was spit on the leg of the table, by a hole for termites. She was a mole digging away. The courtyard smelt of rain and wind, the humid dirt breathed. The head of Aliide was dipped in a trash bucket.

She was being sniffed by dogs, urinated at… And somewhere you could smell brandy, guess the chromed boots… Somewhere people were mixing the languages of Estonia and Russia, rotten tongued whistling…

The buckle of a belt jingling, a door opening, a glass resounding, a chair scratching the floor…

Aliide was a fly, trying to escape in her mind, but this woman is emitting a moan, a death rattle in a spasm. The bag smelt of vomit, smelt of urine…

The door banged: “It stinks. Get her out”

Aliide is in a ditch. Shortly the sun will be up: She has to drag her sore body home, before anybody see her and recognizes her. She had no socks on.

Her older sister Engel will never forgive her for bearing her legs, no decent woman should show her naked legs…

As Aliide is readying to take a hot bath, she ordered Engel to burn all her clothes.

“They will be back. We have got to be leaving…”

And they were back the next morning: They behaved as the masters of this home, and the 3 women were taken back to the municipality. Aliide was ordered to handle the torture of her 7 year-old niece Linda.

Aliide was to grab the hot lamp dangling in the middle of the table, approach it and burn the pussy of Linda…

Aliide did it. The three women didn’t talk.

Aliide had arranged to hide Hans in a tiny storage room: She would do anything to keep Hans close by, all for herself, not for her sister Engel (the couple was in deep love) or Hans’s daughter Linda.

Aliide waited all her life to hear someone tell her “It was not your fault if you were tortured…”

Aliide waited all her life for someone to do anything to take off a tiny weight off her chest and who would promise her: “Not again. Never again

But Aliide knew that no one would come to her rescue: She could never confide to anyone of what happened to her in the cave in the municipality.

Aliide husband was a staunch dedicated communist among the provincial high echelons, and he cared for Aliide and his daughter Trava.

Aliide never cared for Martin but marriage secured a life of a normal woman and a few amenities.  Aliide had to play the good wife to remain in her house and be near Hans: Who but her could care for Hans as she managed to purge and send Ingel and Linda to Siberia?

And Martin died, and Estonia is back an independent State, and the former “communists” are harassed.

Liide is destroying and burning all traces of the communist period.

And she discovers in a secret drawer of Martin tiny objects, like the brooch of her sister Ingel. Did martin participate in the torture and raping of Ingel or Linda? Aliide married Martin because she was pretty sure that she never heard his voice as she was herself tortured…

Aliide also found the gold watch of a neighbor who was absolved of treason, but rumors spread that he agreed to have his girl raped for an entire night: The girl eventually committed suicide, and nobody knew the reason…

Aliide spent her life avoiding those who were tortured like her: She could recognize these women from their eyes and gaits, and she kept a distance from them, lest Aliide’s secret is compromised.

“Are you sure, comrade Aliide”? was the sentence that harassed her daily life, at every occasion she noticed a potential torturer. (Read note 3 for the entire story)

Note 1: The fiction character Hans Pekk was an Estonian nationalist who resisted the Russians when they occupied Estonia in 1939. He joined Nazi Germany army in 1941 when they entered Estonia on their way to invade Russia. He joined the Finish army as Russia reoccupied Estonia in 1944 and infiltrated to be part of the resistance with the “Brothers of the Forest”

Note 2: An extract from the book “Purge” by Sofi Oksanen

Note 3: The previous review of the Purge

Complicating the Class-Divide: New Contractor Bourgeoisie in Lebanon Politics: Rafik Hariri clan, Najib Mikati, Muhammad Safadi, and Issam Fares…

Before the civil war (1975-1989), Lebanon was ruled and controlled by the “comprador” bourgeoisie class (importing from developed nations and selling to the regional States) and their attached commercial/financial banks who manipulated the feudal/tribal/sectarian structure of Lebanon landscape.

During the civil war, Lebanese immigrated in trove to greener pastures and left the space to the sectarian warlords militias leaders. The warlord leaders split the country into sectarian cantons, displacing, transferring and remodeling the mixed communities into “cleansing” de facto closed societies.

The moslem Sunnis preferred to migrate to the new Arab Gulf Emirates and Saudi Arabia. A third of Lebanon work force migrated there within a decade: from 50,000 in 1970 to over 210,000 in 1980. Those struck wealth were in contracting civil work, basically working as subcontractors to Emirs and princes who had the proper connections.

Late Rafik Hariri PM, Najib Mikati PM, finance minister Muhammad Safadi, and vice PM Issam Fares were among these new contractor bourgeois…

The Moslem Shia migrated mostly to west Africa where they joined relatives and struck wealth through adventurous trade deals.

The Christians immigrated to the US and Europe for higher education, and most of them never contemplated to return home to settle. Why?

Most opportunities after the war were allocated to the Moslems, particularly the educated Sunnis who filled the vacant institutions, managed and administered foundations of the new breed of contractors, public civil work, and controlled side institutions attached to the Sunni prime minister

For example, the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR),  communication ministry, internal police force in Beirut, internal intelligence gathering section, Solidere, Sukleen, appointing the governor of the Central Bank and the minister of finance…

This new landscape was an immediate result of the Taif Constitution that expanded the political strength of the Prime Minister at the expense of the President of the Republic.

The business-politicians and neoliberal technocrats in the Future movement network of Rafik Hariri constituted a force for neoliberal “reforms” that appeased the US administration as to the financial policy direction of  the State of Lebanon.

The Hariri clan network had three main purposes:

1. Privatizing State-controlled entities by acquiring them for cheap since they had the liquidity and were backed by Saudi Arabia, and

2. Pegging the Lebanese currency to the US dollar in order to incur far more debt than necessary on the government and insuring total control of the financial condition, mainly to blackmail their rival political leaders into  difficult situation that only the Future movement of Hariri can untangle this volatile condition… (More details in a follow-up article “Applying neoliberal mechanism on Lebanon”)

3. Controlling the city center of Beirut through the chartered company Solidere

For over 2 decades, the Hariri clan were given the financial responsibilities through appointing the governor of the Central Bank, the minister of finance, and controlling the municipality of the Capital Beirut.

After the civil war, Rafik Hariri filled the vacuum of the Sunni leadership, thanks to the total backing of Saudi Arabia, which was the main loan guarantor for the infusion of international lending multinationals. The Hariri network of clientelists and media empires (TV and dailies) strengthened their electoral votes in the Sunni communities.

The Hariri clan was successful in 3 dimensions:

1. Reaching political offices like Prime minister, ministers, deputies, governors of public institutions…

2. Gaining control of public institutions to further their economic agenda, especially creating and controlling side institutions directly linked and attached to the PM

3. Gathering popular following, particularly among the Sunni community, the Druze and a few Christian parties

Saad Hariri, son of Rafik, monopolized the Sunni political leadership and contributed to the widening rift between Sunnis and Shiaas.

Najib Mikati PM and Muhammad Safadi had to climb a stiff road for claiming a political representation of the Sunni communities. Particularly, that the Future movement allied with the Sunni conservative and extremist Moslems like Lebanese Moslem Brotherhood, the extremist jihaddist wahhabi, the A7bash, the Jund al Sham, the Jamaa al Islamiyya

In fact, it was the Future party that financed and covered the many “terrorist” activities of these fringe Sunni organizations, such as in the Sirat Donnieh, the Palestinian camp of Ain Bared, the massacre committed in Halba, and lately what is happening in the large town of Ersal, confronting the army.

The new neoliberal Contractor class is a level added in class interpretation of Lebanon political structure.

How this new Contractor class acquired its wealth in the billion? (To be followed)

Note: From a chapter by Hannes Baumann in “Lebanon after the Cedar Revolution” by Are Knudsen and Michael Kerr.

A song for change may moves you: And the customs continue unperturbed

Dahbia recalls, as she was 9 year-old, the song of her favorite Kabyle (Algeria ethnic group) singer Nouara:

“You have all sang my beauty

You all have lauded my sense of honor

Nobody cared for my rights

As if an animal.

My eyes are wide open now

And I’ll exact my account.

I’ll never forgive my father,

Marrying me against my will.

At the wedding ceremony, I was still playing…”

The women in my home, old and young, were moved by the song.

And nothing changed in this custom.”

Dahbia was retrieved from school at the age of 9: She was confined at home, among the women.

Dahbia was no longer permitted to step outside her home: The younger girls had the chores of bringing in what was necessary from outside the premises.

The grandmothers were free to go outside, anywhere they wanted: At this age, they are not that appealing to succumb to any dishonoring calamity… And not because they demonstrated their traditional sense of “honor”

The job of Dahbia at 9 was to be readied for marriage.

And Dahbia loved to go to school and learn. No crying or knocking at the hearts of aunts and uncles to relent produced any softening to the decision of  being secluded at home. Nobody would listen.

When her dad returned from France to town for a month vacation, all he had to say was: “If tamgharat (the eldest woman) has decided, it will be her will. I can do nothing to change her decision…”

Since that day, Dahbia’s father never looked at her the same way: Her childhood was over and his daughter is to be prepared to become a woman.

Dahbia experienced deep depression, and the tamgharat appeased her mother saying: “Time will overcome her illness.

I remember Yvonne, a young French teacher who failed in her love affair and came to teach in town. Pretty soon, Yvonne succumbed to the same illness of Dahbia. Time is the only cure…

Even in France, Maghrebi immigrant families forbid their girls of 13 to step outside their apartment to play.

Once you resign yourself to admit what was unacceptable, you feel like resuming the “normal” flow of daily life: You eat, sleep and occasionally you laugh.

Dahbia’s lot was to accept becoming a wife, a mother of a large family, unconditionally obeying her husband…

We start to elevate the “Makhtoub”(destiny) to a mythical truth.

Maktoub has very large shoulders that can carry all our failing, a weight as light as feather…

Note 1: An extract from the French book “Our fathers are gone” by Dalila Bellil

Note 2: The favorite Kabyle singers were: Nouara, Idir, Khedidja, Matoub Lounes, Cheikh el-Hasnaoui, Djurdjura, Dahmane el-Harrachi

“I won’t go to Tallinn. Ingel would have added more salt to the sauce…”

That’s what Aliide read in the last diary of Hans , the husband of her elder sister Ingel.

“There are forests and cultivated spaces in the Capital Tallinn (Estonia). There are moments I feel the urge to direct my Walther at Liide. My head is completely clear after so many years of depression…”

Hans had promised Aliide to use the passport under a faked name in order to get established in Tallinn, where no one recognizes people.

Aliide planned it all to the minute details, and she was promising herself to be walking together freely in Tallinn, Hans all for herself, finally.

Aliide had even started to coat her hands with goose fat to soften her skin, and chew on charcoal to whiten her teeth… She was sewing a modern dress…

And Hans decided instead to run away to the forest to join the resistance “Brothers of the Forest“. And he was ambushed, injured and returned home and fainted.

Aliide realized that she was not to go for walks at the Door of Viru, arm in arm with Hans… Hans has promised her. Aliide cried her eyes out: All that energy and effort invested to keep Hans close by…All thesesleepless nights, atrophied life due to the constant fear that Hans will be discovered and executed.

All the inventive and pragmatic schemes she handled to keep the investigators at bay, marrying a high-level communist to facilitate her status as a normal married person, encouraging her husband martin to dispatch her sister Ingel and daughter Linda to Siberia so that she may return to her home and take care personally of Hans, hidden in the storage room and other places in the house…

Cooking for Hans, imitating Ingel’s handwriting and sending Hans faked cheerful letters from Siberia… Ingel and Linda in good health, having some good times, and recollecting the happy memories…

Bringing dailies for Hans to read, baking fresh bread for Hans, securing the necessary brandy, the medicines needed, washing Hans soiled clothes… Every day for years… Hansd having nobody else to care for him and getting him out of the confinement if not for Aliide. All that energy and effort for naught

Hans never looked at Aliide as someone capable of maintaining a family and a house: Ingel was all on his mind.

And Aliide realized that she barely looked straight at Hans’ eyes, and it was reciprocal.

And yet, she was the one who noticed first Hans and fell in love at first sight when she was 12 and Ingel 17.

It was Ingel whom Hans loved, married, begot Linda and never could forget Ingel… Aliide was pretty much invisible to Hans.

And Ingel was the perfect woman, the perfect cook, who smelt fresh, happy, and energetic no matter what.

Ingel was the perfect match, and Aliide almost useless in the kitchen, in the field, in taking care of the cows…

Aliide had to learn everything from Ingel to run a house and prepare for the long winter season. But Ingel lacked this pragmatic mind to resolve dangerous situations…

Ingel had to rely on Aliide to come up with solutions and keep the family safe and sound.

And Aliide suffered tortures from the security services and never talked that Hans is still alive…

Hans had lost consciousness and Aliide trampled his shoulders but he didn’t move. She poured sleeping medicines in Hans’s mouth.

Aliide tied Hans hands and feet. She covered Hans and kissed him on the mouth. She carried him back to the hiding place in the storage area.

She closed the door and glued the door, and she blocked the aeration holes. Returned the cupboard to its place and cleaned the kitchen of blood and...

Thirty years later, Aliide was to meet Zara, the granddaughter of Hans and Ingel, and saved her from the mafia gangsters who used her as a sex slave in Germany…

And Aliide would lay down next to the skeletal of Hans and have the house burned down by the chauvinist adolescents in the town…

Note 1: From “Purge” by Sofi Oksanen, translated in French

Note 2: Read part 1.

“Purge” by Sofi Oksanen

Zara was born in Vladivostok, on the farthest eastern Russia’s port, facing Japan. She lived with her mother Linda and grandmother Ingel, originally from Estonia and who were purged and transferred to Siberia and then let free after Stalin died.

Grandma Ingel favorite position is sitting by a window and watching the Big Bear constellation.

Zara is planning to go to medical school but cannot afford it. Her school friend Oksanka stopped by in a Black Volga and accompanied by two body guards. Oksanka is wearing a fox coat with the fox head dangling on one side of her shoulder and transparent silk socks, and looking totally gorgeous and luxurious. Oksanka gave Zara expensive brochures on luxury hotels and the promise of plenty of money to reap in Germany, working as waitress.

Before leaving Vladivostok, grandmother gave Zara an old picture of the two sisters Ingel and Aliide, 5 years younger than Ingel. The address of the house in also extended so that Zara might pay a visit and check who is now living in the country house, since Estonia is close to Germany.

Zara was working as sex slave in Germany and handled by Pacha and Lavrenti. These two mafioso are Russians, and Lavrenti is an ex-KGB. Zara is taken to Tallinn, Capital of Estonia, for its booming business in casinos and illegal trades.

Zara managed to run away and ended up in a pitiful condition in the garden of a house facing a majestic forest.

Alliide or Liide is not hot to step out and coming to the aid of this wretched girl: Many incidences of girls bating homes to get inside and valueing what can be stolen are frequent now. And old Allide lives alone.

Zara is permitted to have a hot bath and to sleep over.

The next day, Zara faked that her picture of the two sisters fell from the paint paper in the kitchen and asked more information. Liide didn’t show interest in the picture and falsely claimed that her older sister had stolen from the community farm kolkhoz and was dispatched to Russia in punishment, and that she has no idea where she is…

Engel and Hans were deeply in love, married and had Linda who gave birth to Zara. And Aliide was too jealous of this happy couple.

Aliide had done everything to have Engel out-of-the-way so that she keeps Hans close by, all for herself. (That’s the story to follow)

A couple of days later, the two mafioso parked in front of the house. Aliide hide Zara in the storage room behind a cupboard in the kitchen, the same hiding place where Aliide sustained Hans (the husband of Ingel) for many years from the eyes of the Soviet secret services.

The mafioso started interrogating Aliide faking to be police officers and after a girl who assassinated a person and is highly dangerous. They informed Aliide who are the parents of Zara and Aliide is now wondering about the real purpose of Zara, landing on her garden, and the reality of the two sisters picture she showed her… But Aliide got confirmed on the girl real frightened condition, running away from these criminals, particularly that they were wearing black leather coats and long boots that were used by secret services.

The two finally left on the understanding that they’ll be back the next day if Aliide heard anything from the neighborhood.

The next day, Aliide was ready and shot the two mafioso with the same gun of Hans.

The mafioso carried the passport of Zara and plenty of cash money, and Zara was sent in a taxi to Tallinn and from there to Vladivostok.

Aliide sat down and wrote a letter to her sister Ingel and informed her that she can come back and resume the procedures for getting back the land and forest of the family…

Meanwhile, Aliide is planning to have the house burned down as she is lying down in the storage room, where Hans, her impossible love, had made to suffocate to death…

This is not the story of Zara, Linda, or Ingel or sex slave…. This is the story of Aliide Truu. To be continued.

Note 1: This book was translated to French and was selected as the 2010 Prize of the Readers (Prix des Lecteurs)

Note 2: Follow-up review

Note 3: Short history of tiny State of Estonia

The Hanseatic trade started in the 12th century and the Porte-Glave Knights from Germany Catholisized this country in the 13th century.

The Christian Orthodox,led by Alexander Nevski confronted the Catholics in a battle on Lake Peipsi and the borders were stabilized between the two Christian sects.

Sweden occupied Estonia in the 17th century and Peter the Great of Russia supplanted the Swedes in the 18th century after finally defeating them in Narva.

Slavery was abolished in 1810 and Russian institutions were implanted as of 1885.

Estonia proclaimed its independence in 1918 from Russia after the Bolshevik October revolution and the flag Blue-Black-White was replaced.

Between February and November of 1918, Germany occupied Estonia and vacated after its defeat in WWI

Feb. 1920 witnessed the signing of Tartu Peace Treaty with Soviet Russia and a new constitution was adopted on June 1920.

Estonia became a member of The League of Nations in 1921 and the Communist party was banished.

By the end of 1939 and after a deal with Nazi Germany, Russia entered Estonia and the Germanophiles were repatriated to Germany, and a massive wave of immigration to the USA and western Europe took place. Estonia was declared a Socialist Soviet State in 1940.

The massive deportation to Siberia started in earnest in 1941.

On July 1941 and through 1944, Nazi Germany occupied Estonia and another wave of immigration began. The Jew preferred to go to Russia on the border.

Russia reoccupied Estonia in 1944 and another massive immigration was on its way, especially to Finland. A national resistance was waged in the forests under the “Brothers of the Forest” movement

!945 witnessed forced massive immigration of Russians to Estonia in order to control this country effectively.

1949, another massive wave of deportation to Siberia of Estonians and the massive collectivization of farms till 1952.

From 1956 to 62,and under Krutchev,  massive returns of Estonian deportees to Russia

In 1988, the Supreme Soviet proclaimed the sovereignty of Estonia

Estonia is a member of the UN in 1991 and a new constitution is adopted in 1992.

The last Russian troops vacate Estonia in 1994.

“The Cello Player of Sarajevo” by Steven Galloway

On May 27, 1992 and at 4 pm, a shell killed 22 civilians lined up in front of a bakery in besieged Sarajevo. Over 70 persons were also injured as the shell fell behind Vase Miskina market.

The cello player, Vedran Smailovic, decided to play the Adagio on C minor of Albinoni for 22 days, at the same hour of 4 pm and at the location the shell fell.

Galloway designed his novel to revolve around three fictional characters: Kenan, Dragan and the 30 year-old girl sniper “Arrow” (Fleche or Strijela)

Kenan is married with 3 kids and is living in terror every time he has to go and fetch water. Every 4 days, the family consumes the 6 plastic gallons of potable water brought from the underground fresh water situated in the brewery, 7 miles away.

Kenan has to take great risks crossing streets targeted by shells and snipers from the hills, particularly in crossing the bridges of the river to the other side. Before starting his dangerous trip, Kenan slumbers on the staircase wall in order to capture enough courage and determination to get going: He is very afraid of this war that is harvesting people indiscriminately.

At one of his dangerous trips, several shells were lodged at the brewery as he was filling his bottles. Scores of people were killed and many injured. Kenan realized that he belong to the category of people who neither run away immediately or try to come to rescue of injured people around him.

Kenan just stays around watching the scene of carnage until he recovers his hearing sensation and feel fit to resume his trip back home… On the way, he met his friend Ismet, a soldier who gets paid with cigarettes and barter the cigarettes with goods in the semi-black market: Most of the foodstuff in the market were offered by the humanitarian aids and which ended up being handled by the gangsters and “nouveaux riches”. who drives Mercedes and have water delivered to their homes.

Kenan will keep going to the brewery for water: He is the one with all the other people who resumed their daily routine for survival who will rebuild the city, not the war criminals.

Dragan, 64 of age, managed to whisk away his wife and boy of 18 year-old to migrate to Italy as the war approached. Dragan knows that he would not see again his family: the wives who got away from the besieged city have been mailing divorce papers. He is now living with his sister and brother-in-law since his apartment was demolished by shells.

He recalls when the militia in the city dragged him to dig ditches at the front line as the war started. The diggers were forgotten for 3 days and didn’t have anything to eat. The owner of the bakery managed to locate where Dragan was allocated and got him back to work at the bakery.

It turned out that the gang leader was being paid by the head of recruits. Dragan is now on a dangerous trip to buy bread, many miles away and is not ready to cross a street where a sniper has already killed and injured many civilians who dared to cross to the other side.

Dragan is not a talker and he has been avoiding to meet and open any conversation with people he used to know. The sniper injured one of his close acquaintances Amina and he could not master enough courage to retrieve her to safety.  Amina was to deliver outdated medicines to an elderly person as a swap program among the inhabitants for lack of medication.

On the other side was a foreign cameraman trying to get interesting pictures of people crossing the deadly street. And Dragan got upset: This city would not be worth saving if dead people are not removed from the street for fear of being shot at. Dragan decided to walk the 15 meters separating him from a killed passerby and dragged the body to a safe place, even though the sniper tried twice to hit him.

Dragan will deliver the medicines in the name of his injured friend before passing and retrieving his loaf of bread.

And Dragan witnessed that stray dogs walked with a determined “dogged” mind: They had a destination to arrive at and didn’t stop to sniff the dead bodies. However, dogs knew the dangerous crossing, and would look at the hills before crossing. Maybe the dogs could be used to sense danger ahead of time?

Arrow is an exceptional sniper and she target officers in the hills. She works independently as she is entitled to select her own target.  Her commander assigned her the task of foiling snipers sent to kill the cello player. One of the sniper listened with total reverence to the music, and as he was about to shoot the player after the piece finished, and Arrow killed the sniper.

Things changed in war politics in the city. Her commander was assassinated and the new colonel wanted Arrow to work under his directives. The colonel wants to test Arrow for her readiness to target civilians, on the ground that this war is “between us and them”: There will be no difference between officers, soldiers or civilian.

As Hasan, the one designated to select for Arrow her targets put it: “They killed by father and my younger brother at home. I have no idea what happened to my mother and sister. I wish they are dead instead of slaving for these murderers…”

Arrow refused this deal of having target (civilians too) assigned to her, and resumed her unfinished job of protecting the cello player from any further assassination attempts.

Arrow is supposed to disappear and for 10 days she did just that, until the cello player finished his last “concert”. Arrow is back to her apartment, waiting for the military to barge in and assassinate her with “rashak” of bullets…

Note 1: The siege of Sarajevo (500,000 inhabitant at the time) lasted from April 5, 1992 to Feb. 29, 1996. The Serb forces had occupied all the hills surrounding Sarajevo in a valley. The only link to the outside was a tunnel under the airport.

The airport was monitored by an International force. Obviously, the Serb knew about the tunnel that served their interests: They could trade food with the city at exorbitant prices and received appliances at modicum prices, which families bartered  for foodstuff in order to survive.

The criminal barons  and gangs within the city had already invested the army as professional soldiers and officers and controlling the black market.

The UN estimated that ten thousands were killed and 100,000 injured. Over 10,000 apartment totally demolished and 100,000 seriously damaged, or 25% of the total buildings.

Note 2Vedran Smailovic managed to leave Sarajevo on December 1993 and is currently residing in North Ireland

Note 3: in 1945, an Italian musicology discovered 4 tempo of the bass partition of a burned sonata in the ruins of Dresden. He was convinced the tempo were composed by the 17th century Venice Tomaso Albinoni, and spent 12 years reconstituting how the original could have been composed. It’s a fake Adagio, but very beautiful.

Alice “The Siren”

X was 3 year-old and lived with his single shizophrenic mother and very obese and who was mostly sick in bed… The mother died in bed and X survived an entire week on bread and jam until there was nothing to eat: He could not open the locked front door or open the food cans. X didn’t know better but to sleep by his mother, and the stench was insufferable, but X could not realize that there is such thing as dying: mother will be up anytime soon.

How X was discovered we don’t know. X was not officially adopted, but Irene considered X her proper son: She had given up on getting pregnant and her husband was the type who took Irene decisions as orders and never tried to counter her opinions. Irene was a tall beauty and she bathed with X and lavished her “love” on him. X fell totally in love with Irene and nothing existed to him but his new found mother.

X never refused Irene anything she asked and he was the most obedient boy any mother could hope for: X would never do anything that angered Irene.

Two years later, Irene is pregnant with a girl and X is already a non entity, a burden to ignore and feed.  If it was not for her husband who for once took a stand, X would have been shipped to a public institution.

Alice was born and would never stop screaming, and X could no longer suffer all that racket, particularly that Alice displaced him with the total love and affection of Irene.

At the age of 5, and being warned never to approach Alice or even touch her, X was once left alone with Alice being bathed by her father. The father was washing Alice and had to answer the door. X drowned Alice without being aware of what he was doing: Alice was now quiet and things will be back to normal.

The father came back in the bathroom and reanimated Alice, but Alice suffered brain damage and was no longer the same baby: She was completely silent, never moving, never demanding anything… X was smiling in the bathroom, and insinuated to the father that Irene and everyone else will be happy again.

Irene focused her time, energy and attention on getting Alice back to something close to normal.

Ironically, Alice meant nothing to X, but Alice adored X: She only smiled and looked at X, and her mother Irene was sort of invisible to her. As she grew up, Alice was never a few feet away from X. When X went to school she was watching him from the window, and when he was back, Alice was waiting for him at the bus stop, smiling to him.

Alice turned out to be a stunning beauty with the same hair as Irene, chestnut color, until she tried to walk or talk, and people got scared and realized that she is not a normal person.  Alice was a perfect swimmer and looked totally normal in the water, and she could dive and outpace anyone swimming.

Once, Irene ordered X to jump in the water as Alice advanced very far out in the sea. X could barely swim and hated water, but he had to obey. Alice almost drowned X and shouted: “This is me you fool. I am your sirin” and insisted that he tows her to shore…

Alice barely talked, though she could for a 5 year-old brain that would never develop any further. X never answered Alice queries or returned her admiration: He didn’t care for her, and it was Irene who responded to Alice’s questions. Irene was beside herself with the attraction of Alice to this over fat boy.

Indeed, X replaced the love of Iirene with eating anything at hand, and he felt constantly hungry.  X had to come to term that Irene don’t love him anymore and has total contempt for him, but he will keep loving her no matter what she did to him.

The family moved to another town as Irene inherited her mother’s house, whom she called “The Viper”. Fat X was the new target for bullies at the new school. X was content with his books and didn’t feel the urge to befriend or associate with kids his age.

One team of bullies, led by Eric, made X life at school a living hell. Ken was basically the “hunting dog” of Eric and Magnus was the third leg. These bullies would fake running after X so that X keeps running and Eric would curse Alice and call her “Mongolian”.

At the age of 18, the voices in X head convinced him that it was time to leave the family, especially as he began to comprehend that Alice’s condition was of his own doing.

On a summer day, Eric demanded from X to bring him a bottle of whiskey after midnight so that he may join them in the party.

X came with the whiskey and the bullies were already drunk. Eric forced X to have several sips of whiskey and the ground started turning around X and his vision blurred. Suddenly, here comes Alice looking for X after midnight. And Eric made Alice drink whiskey and complimenting her on her beauty.

Alice is 13 years by now and still not normal in the head, but a great beauty. Eric pulls Alice top and handles her small perfect tits, and takes off Alice underware to check her pussy. And Eric said “I’m primo” and raped Alice. X is totally drunk and helpless and Magnus is also out of it.

Eric orders Ken to be next on top of Alice and then they force Magnus off the ground and pull down his trousers and made him sleep on top of Alice. Eric is back for an encore, and this time he is vicious and is pulling on Alice hair. And Alice screamed, a deafening stream of screams that made Eric box the head of Alice and break the bones of her face.

The bullies are now very terrified and realizing that they committed a serious crime, except Eric, a sick person lacking empathy. They ran away leaving Alice bleeding and injured. X ran to his home, shutting out his ears to the echoes of the screams and got in bed.

In the morning, the police didn’t pay a visit to the bullies. Irene assumed that it was X who raped Alice. They kicked X out of the house and a few days later moved out to another town. Alice was sent to an institution. The police didn’t receive a complaint and the bullies were not suspected of rape.

X is now about 40 of age, married with two sons and returned to his school town Fjallbacke to work in the local library. X is changed and looking very different: robust, handsome, wearing corrective glasses, and friendly. Eric, Ken and Magnus didn’t suspect that this is the same X they used to harass. The three former bullies were all married with kids. Ken and Magnus were happily married, but Eric was still chasing girls and was rich from shady business transactions.

What happened to X in the last 22 years? No information. Only once, X fell in love with a single mother with a little kid. This was the period that X felt totally happy: laughing, playing with the kid, and discussing project with Maria, this beautiful former professional dancer with chestnut colored hair and in the blue robe, like having a kid of his own…

And one day, the other person in X butted in and started to harass X: He was not supposed to be that happy, he had no right to be happy after what he committed in childhood… And the only way for X to return to his normal unhappy life was for the two cherished persons to die. X wore women garments and the long chestnut wig and Maria and the kids were drowned in the bathtub.

X was on medication when he arrived to town 5 years ago. And in the last 18 months, he decided that it was about time to write his book “The Sirin”. X had to stop taking medication that prevented him from pouring out his frustration. He worked in a shed on his manuscript.

As X started writing his manuscript, he began receiving threatening letters almost every month.

Eric and Ken also received threatening letters in the last 3 months, but nobody would divulge to anyone that he received such kinds of letters. Magnus never received a threatening letter.

The evening before the signing ceremony for his published book, Magnus, the only real friend of X, read a copy of the book and understood who was X. In the morning, Magnus visited with X to apologize and try to check his reaction.  My contention was that Magnus was ready to pay a visit to the police and get this heavy burden off his chest.

On entering the shed, Magnus saw a lady with long chestnut hair and he was stabbed to death. Apparently, Magnus barged in the wrong timing: X was in his second personality condition. X liked Magnus and had no grudge against him.

X went to the ceremony and received a bouquet of flowers with a card saying: “She walked by your side. She followed you. You have no rights on your own life. She does.” And X fainted.

The lady with the wig paid a visit to Lisbet, the dying wife of Ken, and told her the story of the secret childhood life of her husband.

Ken also was saved from an attempt at his life while jogging in the same usually route. Ken believed that Alice is back with vengeance on her mind.

It dawned on X that if he does not commit suicide, he will eventually attempt to kill his two kids. X hanged himself.

X was the person sending the letters to himself and also to Ken and Eric.

The wig was the same in color, length and shape as Alice, Irene and Maria.

Who X was emulating and in the name of whom of the three ladies was he on a rampage?

Was X punishing himself for failing Irene (the only person he loved before Maria) in taking good care of Alice and protecting her?

Was he angry for failing Alice, the one person who adored him without any precondition?

Was he angry against those who raped Alice simply because they ultimately were the cause for his second personality to kill Maria and her son?

Note 1: “The Siren” is a detective murder novel (410 pages) written by the Swede Camilla Lackberg. I read the French version. After page 50, I got restless and jumped to the last chapter, and then returned to read the beginning of each chapter, which started with significant sections of what X had published.

Note 2: Camilla Lackberg had published “The princess of Ices”, “The Predicator”, “The Stone Cutter”, “The bird of bad Omen”, “The German Kid”,  and Cyanide. Erica Falck is the heroine of the detective novels.

Note 3: In the last few pages, you discover that almost everyone in the novel has died or in the process of dying. Louise, wife of Eric, is driving to the airport to take a good peek at her husband in shackles, and she smashes into a car.  And who is in the other car? Erica (pregnant with twins) and her sister also pregnant. The two ladies were driving to the hospital because detective Patrick (husband of Erica) suffered a heart attack, just as he closed his case…

I felt dejected with all these deaths happening on the last page, a superfluous carnage that is irrelevant to the story. Why?

Note 4: Eric, one of the main villains, is going to get it easy: A couple of years in prison and will resume his previous life trend and behavior. The message is that “if you lack empathy and are immoral, you can get away with responsibilities and remorse…”

Note 5: I guess Camilla lacked the necessary imagination to compose samples of threatening letters sent to Ken and Eric, on the ground that the letters might let the rabbit out and readers might guess the underlying relationship…

My position is: “If you are not given a chance to try to guess and imagine the stroy, it is not worth reading a detective novel…”

Note 6: What do you think was the life of Irene before she decided to marry Ragnar? And why did she marry a short, colorless, and insipid man?

I conjecture that her haughty mother  “The Viper” taunted her relestlessly for fooling around and maybe falling in love with a man that she thought was not in the same “classy circle” or potential class the mother figured her highly beautiful daughter deserved. And Irene got pregnant and her beau fled and she had to abort, and discovered that she could not be pregnant again… And she married the first man who showed some interest…




December 2020

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