|Anaïs Nin [Monique's Passions]|
Through the Streets of My Own Labyrinth
by Anaïs Nin
Landing at Cadiz I saw the same meager palm trees I had carefully observed when I was eleven years old and passing through on my way to America. I saw the Cathedral I had described minutely in my diary, I saw the city in which women do not go out very much; the city I said I would never live in because I liked independence. When I landed in Cadiz I found the palm trees, the Cathedral, but not the child I was.
The last vestiges of my past were lost in the ancient city of Fez, which was so much like my own life, with its tortuous streets, its silences, secrecies, its labyrinths and its covered faces.
In the city of Fez I became aware that the little demon which devoured me for twenty years, the little demon which I fought for twenty years, had ceased eating me.
I was at peace walking through the streets of Fez, absorbed by a world outside of myself, by a past which was no longer my past, by sicknesses one could touch and name and see, visible sickness, leprosy and syphilis.
I walked with the Arabs, chanted and prayed with them to a god who ordained acceptance. I shared their resignation.
With them I crouched in stillness, lost myself in streets without issues — the streets of my desires; forgot where I was going, to sit by the mud-colored walls listening to the copper workers hammering copper trays, watching the dyers dipping their silk in rainbow-colored pails.
Through the streets of my labyrinth I walked in peace at last, strength and weakness welded in the Arab eyes by the dream. The blunders I made lay like the refuse on the doorsteps and nourished the flies. The places I did not reach were forgotten because the Arab on his donkey or on naked feet walked forever between the walls of Fez as I shall walk forever between the walls and fortresses of my diary. The failures were inscriptions on the walls, half effaced by time, and with the Arabs I let the ashes fall, the old flesh die, the inscriptions crumble. I let the cypresses alone watch the dead in their tombs. I let the madnesses be tied in chains as they tie their madmen. I walk with them to the cemetery not to weep, but carrying colored rugs and bird cages for a feast of talk with friends — so little does death matter, or disease, or tomorrow. The Arabs dream, crouching, fall asleep chanting, beg, pray, with never a cry of rebellion; night watchmen, sleeping on the doorsteps in their soiled burnooses; little donkeys bleeding from maltreatment. Pain is nothing, pain is nothing here; in mud and hunger, everything is dreamed. The little donkey — my diary burdened with my past — with small faltering steps is walking to the market . . .