Atiq and Alice Rahimi father and daughter

A father and his son. Two intensity. He has clear eyes full of sunshine, a frank smile that regularly bursts into laughter, a clear appetite to share with others. She has jet black hair, touching beauty, a look that dives into herself in search of the word before lighting up with a generous smile. They are invited to the Étonnants Voyageurs Festival of Writers that gathers their correspondence. Atiq Rahimi, loyal to the event founded by his late friend Michel Loprais, evokes duo like these “Travelers by sea, trapped in boats that travel the world. Alice in her studio, and I in mine, we traveled in waves of words.”

The trip begins in March 2020 with the first reservation and ends in December, the day after Alice’s twenty-fourth birthday. The dialogue begins with Atiq’s initiative. “The obvious reason was to check on Alice, but the main reason was to tell her I existed!” », he bursts into a big laugh. He misses her. She doesn’t miss him, she responds mischievously to him. Or not because he missed him in his childhood during his distant travels. “I never wrote him anything but informative anecdotal lettersshe explained. I saw in our letters a gateway to his land, with the desire to shake him. »

critical. “Our Lady of the Nile”, the origin of the Rwandan tragedy

Both see their lives on hold due to the pandemic. In her third year at the Paris Institute of Dramatic Art, Alice was preparing to give a show. For Atiq, 2020 was his “documentary” year, Our Lady of the Nilebook, mirror guestopera preparation ShereenFilming … “But my gift was just a computer and a phone. The future was in complete uncertainty. I was left with only the past, a period of my life in which I was the only one to live.”

Persian language reassurance

Discussions are in French. If Afghanistan was the home of Atiq and his wife Rahima, who often took their children there, Alice and her brother Sam answered in French to their parents who spoke to them in Farsi. The young woman can neither read nor write her mother tongue, which for her remains the language of childhood: “When I speak it, my voice changes to sound like the one I had when I was ten, very screaming, very polite and smiling. The Persian reassures me.” You speak this language in the movie Mashhad nights Directed by Ali Abbasi, Danish-Iranian, which has just been presented at the Cannes Film Festival (in cinemas on July 13).

Even if he has been writing his books in French since then patience stone (Gunkur 2008), Atiq continues to keep a small black notebook in Persian every morning. Doesn’t she call this ritual ‘my date with myself’? It allows me not to forget my mother tongue. ” Alice owes her first name to the strong connection her father has with the Molière language: “In the French-Afghan high school where I entered at age 11, the first sentence I heard in French class was: ‘Here is Alice, she is sleeping. ‘ I told myself that if I ever had a daughter, I would call her that. »

Often the writer begins his letters with a movement ” my life “which Alice proudly mocks: “When he says ‘my daughter’, I hear ‘my life’ because of his accent and because he swallows the end of the word. He wrote it as a gift to me.” About her father she says humbly: “It’s an opportunity to speak freely, and you have a huge library. Chance and madness. Creative madness, we see, has a form.” Atiq compares his daughter to a rhizome dear to Deleuze: “It has no root because the rhizome is one. Alice grows where she should, and how she should, grow wild. May my daughter be as I want to be.”

In the highlight only at night, Its authors put these words: Aside from the first names, everything is fictional in this book. Literary CoquetryAtiq laughs who talks about a selection of characters so as not to present a raw reality and reinvent himself. After reading it, I made a character for myself, Alice points out. The character who read me. I also became a personality. Telling me my dad was reading me would have stopped me. »

From these months of exchanging letters, Atiq retains the impression that he understood his daughter better and that he made himself understand her better. Through these letters we established an invisible relationship, as if writing had its own life despite us.notes the young woman for whom the relationship seems to be becoming more mature: “It’s not Papa and Alice anymore. I feel like I’m becoming more Alice and he’s more old.”

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critical

Unless it’s at night

By Alice Rahimi and Ateeq Rahimi

POL, 272 pages, 19 euros

Father and daughter writing to each other. In their dialogue, Alice’s floppy style cuts an impressive figure against the lyrical writing of her writer father. Afghanistan, from which Atiq fled in 1984, occupies a large place in these exchanges, and the question becomes “slack bag” What country nostalgia. Alice wonders, her father recounts his obligations and his journey into exile. But the conversation goes beyond just a question-and-answer game.

The young woman tells herself, too. An actress in the making, discovers on stage an Afghan unconscious stronger than she ever imagined. Words are thrown into a certain paternal silence, and Alice’s kicks do not block tenderness in these dense exchanges that make chaos in the face of the pandemic and turbulent family history even richer.

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