Ordinary Variations 

Le Monde,
juin 2012,
sur l’installation :

ordinary variations

idea, camera, sound, editing: AM
produced by le fresnoy studio national and anna marziano.
france/italy 2012 
filmed on video and microscopy, 48 min.

sound mix: simon apostolou 

world premiere TFF torino, italiana/doc.

further festivals and screenings: festival apresvaran (paris) 2014, nomadica (bologna) 2013 and spaesamenti/depaysement (susa) 2015. 

“In ORDINARY VARIATIONS (2012), I develop the idea of cinema as public space, already present in THE MUTABILITY OF ALL THINGS AND THE POSSIBILITY OF CHANGING SOME (2011). If in my previous film I proposed some readings to passers-by in public spaces in L’Aquila, in this last work I met some inhabitants of Roubaix through a question that allows a relational praxis and reveals the dynamic character of individual identity. How are we transformed every day by the words of the others? And how our own words act on them? Words become a trace of these mutual changes and the listening turns into the central experience of this film, both in its making and in its vision. The listening supports the sight, and the sight supports the listening: in between the extraneousness of the landscapes and the intimate closeness of the voices, the ambiguous space of the singular/plural identity is offered to the experience of the public. 5 Recordings are anonymous and my interlocutors carry a word other than theirs: in this way, there voices are free from narcissism and the idea of a central and autonomous subject is weakened, without diminishing the individual responsibility of each person. On the contrary, during the whole film, everyone is pushed to activate his/her attention and to react: if we are not able to found freely our life, it is still maybe possible to react to all the determinations we received. The memories collected in these few months do not look at the past. They are rather offerings to the present time. Signs of a wish, an ethic, a certain closeness or distance from the stimuli received”.- AM


~ ordinary variations

A poetical-political experience takes place in Roubaix, a town with an industrial past which is considered today as the most depressed area of France. For six months, Anna Marziano makes sound recordings in different public spaces - as streets, parks, swimming-pools, commercial malls, social centers, schools, theatres, bars and hospitals… - invariably asking the same question to the passers-by. She proposed to recall one or more phrases that a friend, a relative or a passer-by addressed to us, in a recent or remote past... A phrase that transformed us. These voices flow along thirteen long shots of different crossing spaces, creating a sort of cartography of micro-transformations of human trajectories. A work on the dynamic character of individual identity. A relational praxis in an urban community. A way of understanding cinema as a public space.


Sentieri Selvaggi, Tonino De Pace

Variations ordinaires di Anna Marziano sembra appartenere ad un nuovo prototipo di genere cinematografico in cui il film sembra invitarci a ragionare sulle immagini con un taglio da ricerca entomologica. Una ricerca che fa emergere verità insospettate, che costringe lo spettatore all’interno di un recinto visivo dal quale trarre le infinite possibilità a seguito di una successiva selezione. un lavoro simbiotico, e per questo assolutamente indispensabile, con la traccia sonora che restituisce, stavolta, rilievo all’immagine stessa. Roubaix non è soltanto la città che infiamma l’anima degli sportivi nelle incipienti primavere ciclistiche, ma è anche una città al nord della Francia che un tempo fu cruciale nodo industriale e che oggi vive una crisi non soltanto economica, ma anche di identità collettiva. Anna Marziano, trentenne filmaker padovana, già ospite a Torino nel 2010, lavora su questa trasformazione per ricercare un’identità collettiva perché le immagini e le parole possano costituire un collante per un nuovo generale sentire. Si afferma, in questa prospettiva, il lavoro condotto attraverso un prototipo nuovo di operazione cinematografica che all’interno di una categoria che non si iscrive alla fiction, ragiona sulle immagini con un taglio da ricerca entomologica. Un tipo di documentario concettuale che senza stravolgere il senso di un racconto per immagini che non sia fiction, ipotizza e compie una ricerca che ha lo scopo di fare emergere verità insospettate costringendo lo spettatore all’interno di un recinto visivo per trarne le infinite possibilità a seguito di una successiva selezione. Il documentario della Marziano si aggiunge, in questa ideale ipotesi, a quanto già aveva fatto Luca Ferri nel suo Magog. Entrambi i lavori sembrano attingere ad una forte necessità dell’immagine come elemento primario, ma in realtà compiono un lavoro simbiotico, e per questo assolutamente indispensabile, con la traccia sonora che restituisce, stavolta, rilievo all’immagine stessa. Anna Marziano in tredici piani sequenza fatti di inquadrature fisse disegna tracciati urbani comuni riempiendoli dei racconti, che ci provengono da voci fuori campo, dei suoi abitanti, di narrazioni dentro le quali troviamo le loro trasformazioni. Si tratta di frasi, episodi della vita che hanno mutato le esistenze di questo ideale collettivo anonimo. Dentro queste varie e smisurate direzioni narrative ritroviamo un generale comune sentire che ci riconduce dentro una collettività in piena crisi. Uno straordinario lavoro teorico che si interroga su quanto le parole 8 degli altri ci trasformino e quale possa essere il percorso da seguire per sfuggire al concetto di singolare per approdare a quello di plurale. Un lavoro dalla invidiabile architettura visivo/creativa che soffre, forse, appena appena, a visione ultimata, di quel meccanicismo che avrebbe potuto essere interrotto da un elemento di rottura che spezzasse, esaltandola, perfino, la perfetta e simmetrica costruzione dentro quella – comunque - originale struttura che il film offre allo spettatore. Tonino De Pace / Sentieri Selvaggi


1.  It was more or less 6 years ago... I was depressed and not feeling well at all. One day I went for a bike ride and there was a guy who was biking too and he came along. So, I thought he was a fool... He asked me if he could come along with me on his bike.  I said yes. So we went riding for a while. Then we sat on a bench and we started talking. I asked him why he made me such a question. He had noticed that I wasn't feeling good. He said why not go riding together... when things aren’t going so well. I told him about my problems and in the end he told me something that left a sign: If you carry on like this, you're going to spend all your life as if you lived in a waiting hall.

3. I'm in front of the garage of the house where I live with my parents. I am stripping down the exhaust - pipe of my moped Tendilet that my father had given me. And he passes by. He's going to work at 2p.m. He stops. He looks at me and says: You are doing bricolage? And he goes away. In telling you this story I realize that I somehow invented a theory about 'bricolage' and I read much about this notion in order to turn it into something positive, so greatly I was humiliated at this regard... You're doing bricolage…

4. I'm in an abbey in Provence in a kind of seminar about faith and atheism. I'm there with my brother: we are both militants of the Catholic Militant Youth. On the second day, Father Cardonnel, a very well known Dominican friar, starts his speech with this sentence: God became man, we should not attempt to turn him back into a god. And when he said that I looked at my brother: he was sitting in front of me, I could partially see his face. And I had the impression he had heard that too. Then, maybe two days later, I'm in a car with my brother. He's driving. I don't know why but at one point, in front the soccer stadium, I tell him: Do you remember the sentence of Father Cardonnel? And he answers: Of course I do. I say: I instantly lost my faith. And my brother: Me too.

7.  In a political meeting I appreciated this sentence: Learn to see among your comrades what draws you together and not what divides you.

11. We wanted to leave Italy together and then... I didn't show up at the date. Destiny wanted we met a fortnight later. When he told me that it was easier to loose a friendship rather than to conquer it, I understood he didn’t want my friendship anymore. I got to know that the following day he died in a car accident, in Italy.

12.  When a friend told me once: You are not what you own... after I had bought a new pair of shoes.

13. I was in Brittany, in my grandmother's second house. At the bottom of the garden, there was a small dépendance where I spent my holidays with my parents. One day we were going to the beach, I took all my things... but I was missing the buckets. My brother was still in the house so I asked him to carry the buckets along. Bring the buckets please. And I started to quarrel because he didn't want to do so. My grandmother looked at me and she said sharply: God gave you two legs so use them.

14. Good evening, it’s  Laurence, can we meet on the weekend? Don't call me, I will call you. A phone message arrived by mistake.

17. I'm in a taxi with my parents. At the moment of getting out, I am the last one, and the taxi driver asks me: Are you adopted?  I say: Why that? And he says: You don't look at all like your parents. Their features are much more typed than yours.

18. I'm at home. After a big quarrel with my mother, she tells me she no longer loves  me and she doesn't consider me as her daughter anymore.

19. I had 6 in English, at college, and a guy said: You're only an Arab, it would be of no use anyway, you're not going far.  I remained speechless then I left.

20. My father often told me I'm a good-for-nothing, I will never succeed in life... But instead of taking offence at these words, I took them well, in a positive way trying to succeed in the things he thought I was not skilled enough.                                                                                                                                               

22. I remember that once a tramp told me… I was sitting nearby smoking a cigarette, he looked at me and told me… Be careful, ah! Don't fall down in the stream. Me I already fell in the lake! And these words impressed me.

23. My piano teacher said something to me that I will remember for all my life. She said: Ejel, you have a gift for playing the piano, you must keep on all your life. She died soon after

24. I am married and I have two kids. My ex-boyfriend told me so.

25. I was getting home carrying my shopping and there was a bunch of guys at the corner and they laughed and insulted me saying: Dirty black.                                                                              

26. They told me I have beautiful eyes.

27. So once, I was 9 years old maybe. My father went for watching a car, he collected cars. We met the driver, we jumped into this old shabby car and I don't know what they were talking about but at one point the driver said: The best quality is to remain humble. And that impressed me.

28. I was living in a small flat with my mum and my three little brothers. My father-in-law had passed away and somehow I had to take the father’s role. Once, I don't know how it happened… My mother gets home at 4 - 5 p.m., terribly tired with big shopping bags after climbing three floors of stairs, she opens the door, stars at me with big eyes and says: And where are the children?

29.My grandmother always says… I mean when we call, we stay very little time on the phone. She always says: the phone isn't meant for chilling, it's meant for giving news.

30. It's a meeting I had years ago with the artist Fabio Mauri. I was to take him to the airport in Bruxelles and on the way we had a conversation that lasted all the journey. At a certain moment I put a question to him: Would you sign for starting the same life again, repeating the same mistakes? And he answered: I would sign. But on one condition: it’s fine if I make the same mistakes but not with the same people.

31. It was during a recent riot in Mali. Among the crowd, someone said: When it's day, it's day for all of us. When it's night, it's night for all of us.

32 When I was 7 and I started school... my father always repeated to me: Listen attentively, watch attentively, think attentively. And these words accompanied me even when I was at college, and still now...

34. I must have been 12 years old. I don't remember exactly if it was my first big love pain or if it was when Mike Brant died. Anyway for me it was the end of the world and everything had crumbled down... So my grandmother came to see me and she told me in a I-couldn’t-care-less way: Cry my babe, you will piss less. And I think it was a way of relativizing things that impressed me and made me say: ok, let's get going again.

35. Get out. Go away. That's all. Get out of this house.

37. I have always been a moment fat, then slim, then fat, then slim. I've always considered myself as a slim getting fat... Until one day a sentence changed my perspective and now I consider myself as a fat woman who would like to become slim. Once again I had put on weight and I felt very badly in my skin, it was 25 years I was feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. And one day someone said: You know, roundness fits you good. And I passed into the category round-fat, in the people’s perception of me. So, instead of trying to get a weight not convenient for me, I decided to accept the fact that I was fat, to accept this in the people’s perception.  So, this was the sentence that started such a change. But in that very moment it has been hard to live with.

38. I'm in the streets of Lisbon, well dressed, wearing an English coat, English shoes, glasses in Godard’s style... And I'm watching the match Benfica/I-don’t-know-which-other-team, in front of a cafe. As I couldn't manage to see very well, a young girl sitting at the table next to me said: My friend, you should change your pseudo-intellectual glasses. How many books did you already read this month? I said: One and a half. But actually I had read a children's book and only half of it.

39. I'm sitting on the old leather armchair that is ten years old but still good. There is my cousin next to me. There are our dogs as well, moving all around. There is the stoned fireplace... My grandfather was sitting next to the fireplace. And he said to us: Above all, children, don't forget... Carpe diem. Enjoy life... We are all there listening, our eyes full of stars...

40. We are alone. It was 4 years ago, I was in French class. We were analysing a text. The teacher, he was the best one I ever had: he really nourished my passion for literature… Everything was a discovery with him. I couldn't say which text it was about, but at one point he said:  We are alone, deeply alone, all our life.

It's our condition. We are alone… We must cope with it... and get able to go towards the others.

42. He was very ill. Very ill and tired. It was in the hospital. There were two friends and one said to the other: Don't take your life too much to heart otherwise you're going to die of a heart-attack. Because the other man had a heart disease.  And it made me laugh very much.

43. I’ve been told these words many times, I mean, twice. One it was when I had a car accident. I was with my father. A car bumped into the back of our car. My father threw himself on me and when the car crashed into ours he told me: I love you. A few months later I heard the same words in a caring, passionate atmosphere. The lights were low and... I was with her and… I was feeling good.

44. My father died a dozen of years ago and when I went to say goodbye to him, because we knew it was the extreme end of his life... He told me: I'm truly very happy to have known you.

45. I am a teacher and I have disabled students. I always try to integrate them in the other classes. Some time ago, a colleague told me that since she worked in this school, she immediately understood the role of disabled people in the school. And this made me very glad. I think this message will accompany her for all her career and I feel a bit part of the fact she understood that.

46. It was morning, it was in springtime. My husband said: I'm going to work, I leave you my tenderness and I take your smile with me. Until this afternoon.

It was an important moment because... He was going to work. And I remained home...

48. I went to see my dad in coma in hospital. The doctor said they had to take off the breathing apparatus because a young guy needed it and my father, 69 years, could die. Because he was old enough to die.

49. Mum, look in front of you and forget the past.

50. Last time the teacher told me: Go and see if I'm somewhere else.

51. Once my eldest brother said to me: Shut the fuck up.

52. Someone in my class insulted me, he said: Ryan, the tramp.

53. My aunt said I have hazel eyes.

55. My mother gave me some money and she said: Do what you want with it.

56. My parents said to me: Have you done well at school?And my teacher: You're improving day after day.

57: My cousins said to me: Shut up and get out.

59. My friend, she said: Call me. She gave me her number. It's 0644791674.

61. I had gone somewhere during summer holidays, I slept there for learning the Coran. When I came back home my sister said: I missed you.

62. It's evening. I come back home. I tell my mother I've made a blunter. My mum says: Go to your room. She arrives after a while on her crook and says: Why did you behave so? I said:Er... I don't know... it happened. She leaves my room, slams the door and says: Never do it again.

63. I was on my journey to South America, after my Diploma. During the whole High school I had no time to do what I wanted. There were rules and times to respect. I was not free. And I had told myself I would travel around as soon as I ended my studies. And I managed to leave… But then I was on my journey and I never thought about it anymore. Until a friend of mine said: Tristan, you're really lucky, you're really free. This impressed me because I had completely forgotten this freedom I had searched for so long.

64. Once someone told me that if I was so sad, it was because I didn’t find any sense in life. So, I found one.

65. I remember a teacher who said I was capable of the best and the worst. It's good to know this because we are not always aware of it.

66. It was the time many Greeks were leaving as there were the Colonels in Greece, so the people who could afford it... There was a big Greek community in Paris. And this guy, he was an actor, a philosopher… he was poor. And he had a friend, a successful painter, who was fairly well off. So once he said to this painter: Listen Yannis, you're stealing the poor of the only thing they still have, their poverty, when you worry and complain about your money. I thought this expression was very cute.

68. Good morning, car documents and your residence permit, please. These words shocked me because I'm French and I was born in France.

69. She told me she had no money. This is all she said. That she had no money and it was too hard on her.

71. It shows in your face you are a good person. My mother told me this. I'm 37 and I don't remember she ever told me so before.

73.You will never succeed in this field, you must be very intelligent. It was a professor of physics.

74 Some time ago, at the counter of a supermarket, there was a nice gentleman in front of me. He starts talking: Don’t forget to go to the meeting,  in May. I say: Which meeting? He replies: The election, of course! I say: Oh, yes. He goes on: Go and vote Marine Le Pen. I listen to him but with no attention, as I’m  Maghrebian, and he must have noticed it! But he carries on talking… You will see, she will make it this year!  Then he said goodbye and went away. I smiled but it touched me a bit...

75   It’s Sunday afternoon: I’m with my daughter and we’re going to see a theatre play for kids. I parked far and we walked for a good km then I realized it wasn’t the right place and we were in late. I said: We won’t make it, we’ll never arrive on time. But my daughter said: No daddy, if we hurry we can still make it. All in one go these words gave me energy. We run to the car and found the right place. Unfortunately we couldn’t enter then, we were a little too late.

76 One day I asked my father a lot of questions, a lot a lot… At one point my dad said:  You know Cecile, you’re like me, you’re the kind of person that will ask questions all your life, it’s just like that. My father was sitting next to me against the light. I saw his profile in full light.

80  In a meeting my employer said: The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

81  At  a family  dinner. At my mother’s: she’s got 8 children. Every Sunday we all help in the cooking. I was talking to my sister blocking the way. I didn’t hear my mum asking me to move over. She pushed me and said: Move back, you’re just a big potato.

84 I was in Paris at a friend’s house. We were working on a film, I was the director. In the night I received a call from my mother: my father had died.  I caught the first underground, the first train to return to Lille. I went directly to the hospital to see my father’s body. When my mother saw me the first thing she said was: Your father was proud of you. At my father’s funeral I was told by a neighbour  the same sentence  exactly: Your  father was proud of you.  I had always had a conflictual relationship with my father  since adolescence. I wondered about this sentence. Was he really proud of me or had two people, in particular my mother, tried to help me settling my problems with my father? Anyway it didn’t work, I will always wonder about this sentence.

85 He shouted, he shouted. ‘Cos he was on the other side of the stadium. He said: Well done, Sefedin, you saved the team!

86  My father came to see me at home. He had bought me a play-station. I said: I adore it. He said: You must never say this, because in our religion only God deserves to be adored. I’ve always remembered these words.

87  She said: We are going to speak to your mother so that you don’t become fatter. And she said that my friends don’t laugh at me.


89 So, I was spread out on my desk during my German lesson. In my second class. The teacher, Mr. Meyer, I remember his name, asked me a question. I muttered something. He said: Hossepied, you’ll be a mere cipher! And I understood… a mere cipher in German! Since then I’ve always hated German. Just a few days ago an unpronounceable German word reminded me of that occasion. That guy made me hate German forever.

90 During a school performance. I’m shy, not really at ease in my class. And there is a school recital: a choreography in which we have to eat one each other, on the scene. We are two by two. I’m very shy but I like what we are doing. I dance dressed as a cat. And I think it’s ridiculous to be dressed as a cat. But at the same time I want to eat the other and I go for it, I’m very involved. In the end, the teacher tells me: You’re strong! You’ve got powerful eyes... They’re only a few words… but they make me think I could become a dancer or an actor… Then it didn’t happen. Life offered me other equivalent choices… But there he perceived a potential... that then we can do or do nothing out of it.

91 I’m revising with a friend for the diploma. I’m not smarter than he is, he’s not smarter than I am. And then this phrase: Oh but you Hossepied, you will succeed. He’s Francois Delaume, we are in his room at Marcq-en-baroeul, at the first floor. I ask myself: why me and not him? This stirred up something.

94 “If I didn’t perceive it, it’s impossible. If it had really happened, we had such a confidence, an intimacy… that I surely would have realized. That’s what my mother said to me when I told her about all the abuses I had suffered by my grand-mother when I was small: my mother did not believe me.

96 We were invited for lunch at my grand-mother’s place. After having been served, I look at my cousin’s plate which seems to me plentiful. My grand-mother  notices my glance and says: Look at your plate, don’t look at your cousin’s!

97 We managed to make the heart beat again but if he survives there will surely be many consequences.

98 Do you want to live or do you want to die?  This is what they asked me.

99  I regret having been adopted. Someone said this to me and I was shocked.

106 One day my mother said to me:  If you’re not there anymore, I’m not there anymore. So I must live and carry on fighting.

107 My mother said that I shouldn’t complain about things and I should remember everyday how lucky I am to have arms and legs. And I think about it every day.

109 Do as you please, I don’t care for you anymore.

110  A friend  made me  understand  that my friendship… I loved his expression: mental homosexual. He meant that he really loved me. And these words impressed me.

112. My mother said: We have no friends in life.

114  The following words impressed me… but not any more now. It was summer when I  got my diploma. It was a beautiful day and I was happy, I was young. Walking along Bontemps street, I saw some kids playing in front of their doorstep.  I walked by them and heard them yelling wog!  I stopped, looked at them, said nothing. And those words ruined my day… But then I forgot them…

115 When I finished my training as a plumber, I was happy and I wanted to work. So I went to an artisan and told him I was looking for a job. He said: Well…I’d like to take you in because I am not racist but you know, when I eventually send you to my customers they may not open the door to you. I could have problems...

116 I was in England, I was young and not bad looking. A guy was nasty, he told me: You are ugly!  This upset me because I was not ugly. Maybe it was mere spite? Maybe racism?

118. Do your job at school!

119. My aunt said: You must stay at home. Now you know the story. If I had gone to school I could have had a normal life. But as things went… No life, only work, work, work. Only housework.

122. She always says: Don’t think about us too much ‘cause a day will come…You won’t find us… You have to find your family… your husband and your children.

123. In 2002 I arrived in France. I’m from Tunisia. I stay at home, the children go to school, my husband works.  I’m at home the whole day, alone. One day my daughter hurts herself, I walk because I don’t know …to catch the underground or the bus…I’m alone. I arrive at the hospital and ask a woman:  The agency, please? The lady says: Madam, there are no agencies here. I say: Oh yes there must be an agency at the hospital. Madam, there are no agencies here. What are you looking for?  I say: My daughter has hurt herself today. Oh you want the casualty!  So I got inside, I saw my daughter. Back then I started a French course to be able to speak to people.

124. She said: Mum Dad I’m leaving… It was an enormous sorrow for us. And she left my grandson. My grandson didn’t want to follow her. It was hard on her but… My grandson decided. The young decided.

125 It was in the kitchen. My daughter said she was leaving for the States. She was leaving us. It has been very painful. And she was our only daughter. Going so far. She knew we would never reached her. My husband never wanted us to go to the States. All the more reason for not being fond of Americans.

127 I started work. I was well  backed up by the others of the team. They say labourers are always tough. It’s true they’re physically tough but very social. So I was protected by the eldest and was happy when at the end of the day they said to me: Bamousse, you’ve worked well today, haven’t you?

129. You’ll end up in prison. My teacher told me so when I was finishing school. I had just set fire to my college.

130   I remember this event: there were a few in a group. They were talking to a person as if predicting this person's future.......you'll have what you want without rpoblems. I asked: and I? -You too will have what you want but you will have  to fighty

132  My biology  teacher, at the end of the school year, had noticed  I had no self-confidence; he said these words  to me: Jeanne, you don't realize. You look down on yourself and I admire you. You 're a  terrific girl and you'll go far

134 You're 10 years  before time. I was young. I could still believe it. I had sent my thesis to the editor of a big publishing house. They said I had a future in their world of publishing, even if this was a way of saying : not right now. Unluckly a year or two after this house closed down

135 Since 10 years, my mother's got Alzheimer. She's losing memory: it's  a progressive illness. When I went to visit her at the beginning of this disease she was weaker and  weaker  every day and  bewildered and she always said to me: what can I do for you?

136 My father, 86 years old, comes to see me every day and he always asks me the same question: what news?

137 All that happens is your fault

138 My brother said this to me, at my house, about 3 years ago. After a big family quarrel. He said:I don't know where you come from but I know you are here. You are my sister and even if we don't have the same genes we have the same heart. This  matters.

139 Every morning before leaving for school, my dad says: Go Clara, courage and  spirits high.

140 I was at dancing school, I was 10 years old. At the end of the week there was a  performance and the pianist who had accompanied us   whispered  in my ear: show them how to dance . Be gritty.

141 When Kaoteur and I had a quarrel...afterwards we became friends again and she said: Your hair is beautiful

142My mother said to be careful in the street  'cause my brother was run over by a car.

143  my mother said that when someone calls me in the street I mustn't go with him

146When I quarrel with my friend at the end she says:Forgive me. And shortly afterwards: you're my best friend

147 Last year at school I  put on my high- heeled  shoes and my teacher said :you want to grow uo?

148 On the first day the teacher said to me: you don't know how to dance. I dances. Afterwards she said: Oh yes, you can dance , I'll take you in.

150It was Monday. I was in the school yard for our break with my friends. A boy came towards us and looking at us said: Stop walking , you look like  hippoes.

152 I remember a  passer-by, we were just starting to play football: my brothers, a friend and I. He  came up to us and said: It will soon be the end of the world,  the youngsters go home, it's late

153  Once when my sister's friend came....I was in blouse and jeans and she said : you look beautiful

155When my brother told me he was little and he felt alone at school, he got bored and had no friends. I felt sorry for him

157 When my brother was little he always had good marks at school and I didn't. So I tried to get good marks but nothing to do. So I asked him how did he manage and he said: when the other kids beat you , you mustn't beat them. You tell the teacher.  When you have a test and you don't know how to do it, you ask......instead of doing  nonsense on the paper

158  When my brother was little he went through a bad time: I have no friends what  can I do? I told him to look for friends who wanted to play with him. He looked for some but nobody wanted to be his friend.

159 When I was little I was in Africa. One day we went into the jungle. I was afraid. but my father told me all the time to  keep calm when I was scared and to look at the animals as they looked at me because maybe they are more frightened than us.

161  What impressed me most of my grandfather is what he said to me. He called all the family around him. He told me not to do anything foolish, not to do this and that.....in good and bad. He explained everything to me. He was dying,  smiling, and this  really touched me

164 Sometimes my mum says I'm beautiful. And this makes me joyful

165 When I was a teenager I often disagreed with my father's ideas and values. And when we discussed,  it   often ended up in a quarrel  and with the words "shut up". My father died a year ago and I have built  my life on this phrase . And I will never be silent.


I was about 12 years old and I was playing on my own by a river near home. Here he comes my uncle Alì. He knows I had a little quarrel with my family and says: I swear, if I were you, I wouldn’t take it on me. These words remained in my mind. They always appear in a different way. There is somehow a shadow behind these words.


Once I went to Algiers with a couple of friends. While going around and about the town, we met a lady on our way, a fortune-teller.  She tells me: Give me 50cents and I will tell you about your life. I reply: My life is in front of me and I am walking through it. But my friends push me to give her 50cents, so she takes my hand and starts talking. Very soon, you will cross a river. My friends laugh because in front of my house there is a river I cross every day. But the wheel turns and turns… until a few months later, the river I crossed was the Mediterranean Sea…on my way to France.


I work in a pharmacy, in Roubaix and in summertime a new pharmacy technician came. I judged her too fast and after a while I understood instead that she was adorable. The pharmacist – who knew what I thought of her at first – told me: Never judge people without knowing them.

170.  It was at my place. My father’s death. She cried, I cried, my brother cried, my family was there, we cried. I was there to support her and she told me: Nassim, I love you. And this helped me protecting her, being always next to her, obeying her also.


I have been wearing the veil for 8 years and one day my uncle said I was a girl who cared only about appearances. My cousins don’t wear the veil and he wanted me to stop as well. But this is my own choice… He told me these words to prevent me wearing it.


My sisters told me my shyness limited my occasions to meet people. They said it wouldn’t let me go far. I understood I needed to overcome my shyness and go towards people.


You  must always start with history. I heard this phrase during the 80’s. We occupied a ball-bearing factory in Upper Savoy. It was night. We gave time to the things to happen. Some people were playing, and me I was talking with an old syndicalist. 

And this phrase remained in one corner of my mind.

175. You will never make it in life. It’s my brother. My brother told me that.

176. One day someone met my husband in the street and he told him: Your wife must be very severe. This touched me a bit. Because I don’t think I am so severe.

177.  He was a chief policeman and he was obliged to leave the country. And I was obliged to follow him. We came to France. I felt lost. We had nothing. And my husband said: Believe in us, believe in yourself, we’re going to make a beautiful life.


It was a beautiful day in April, I remember as if it were today. It was Wednesday.

I get back home at lunchtime and find my husband had packed all his things up. I ask him what was going on and he says: It’s not your business. And as I finish with my luggage, I’m going to leave the keys.

It was a revelation. I realized my life had never been my business and I had always been led by him. I told myself, it’s over. And I ended this story which had lasted 25 years.

︎︎︎                                                                                               ︎︎︎