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Association des Juifs Originaires d'Egypte
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LECTURE : SUZY VIDAL alias SULTANA LATIFA
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THE EBONY CHILD. (Roman)

 

« The Ebony Child », L’Enfant d’Ebène, le dernier roman de Sultana Latifa ou Suzy Vidal met le lecteur en apnée dès la première ligne. Une fois commencé, on ne peut plus abandonner le livre avant de l’avoir terminé.
Suzy Vidal brosse un tableau de la société bourgeoise juive du Caire du début du 19ème siècle avec un réel talent de conteur (ou conteuse, la parité doit-elle s’appliquer ?). Farha l’héroine devient immédiatement une amie, son père Schlomo Nakash nous est tout de suite sympathique.  Nous vibrons à l’unisson avec nos héros et nous nous surprenons à mépriser ceux qui leur font du mal. Et puis, bien entendu, survient ce lumineux bébé à la peau noire :  Salomon. Salomon l’enfant chéri de sa mère, doué d’un don merveilleux, celui de faire des miracles. Et ces miracles tout le monde y croit, y compris le lecteur du roman.

Lire ce roman, c’est partager le quotidien d’un monde disparu à jamais. Les joies, les peines, les croyances et les peurs de personnages attachants qui ressemblent à nos grands parents.
Les femmes traitées comme des mineures. Les hommes très à l’aise dans cette société patriarcale. Tous vivants dans la crainte du qu’en dira-t-on. Des familles nombreuses qui se transforment en tribu. Et tout ceci dans l’ambiance débonnaire et bon enfant qui règnait en Egypte.

Encore une fois, merci Suzy pour le dépaysement garanti…
Simone Diday (© S. Diday)

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SHORT, VERY SHORT STORIES. (Brèves - décembre 2008)
Children’s words: TAA TA, ÉMBOU, DAH, TÉTA, OKH, OPPA, DZIN, BOO ITA

 
I am not sure that the words mentioned here were used in every family. But certainly they were part of the vocabulary of our two families: that of my dad’s and that of my mother’s.

TAA-TA : That word was related to a child’s first steps. You would hold him by his hands above his head and say taa-ta. This meant that he should take a few steps.
The charming thing is that with every step you said taa-ta and the child was encouraged to walk.

ÉM-BOU : that was for water. When a child was thirsty he said ém-bou, which meant he wanted to drink or his mother presented a glass of water and asked ém-bou? If the child offered his mouth ready to receive the drink then it was a positive answer.

DAH :
was the pat to express that the child or person was sweet.
You patted the child’s shoulder and said dah. To tell the child that a person was nice, you patted that person’s shoulder or arm and said dah!

TETA :
was the word for breast and asking the child if he wanted téta meaning to drink milk from his mother’s breast? Remember that children were milked for a very long time. I was told that my mother milked me for almost two years!
Also young girls when growing up wanted a téta to be like their mother.

OKH :
was used to express a good smell such as perfume or eau de Cologne or a flower: rose or jasmine, smelling it then saying okh to the child to express something agreeable.

OPPA :
was used either by a parent or by the baby to say he wanted to be taken in the arms. The child would lift his arms and say oppa meaning ‘Take me in your arms’.
When the mother or father lifted the child they also said oppa usually followed by a smalla for the evil eye.

DZIN
: was the menace of a slap on the bottom.
If the child had been naughty he would be told tzin showing the menacing hand ready to give out its punishment. (It was usual then to give a spanking, une fessée).

BOO-ITA
: was a game between an adult and the child: you hid behind a newspaper and then took it away saying boo-ita. It made the child laugh with delight. It was also said of a very quick visit where no one had any time to say anything. It was a boo-ita visit !