What concealed the Jester of Hassan II | Culture

There are more powerful stories than their characters, and that of the Binebine family belongs to that unique, exceptional genre. The patriarch of the saga was buffoon of King Hassan II, but he continued to have fun and laughing thanks in the years of lead,when the Moroccan monarch He sent his eldest son, Aziz Binebine, to the dungeons for participating in the 1971 coup that sought to overthrow him. And while Binebine Sr. was still cooing the monarch until he caught the dream with stories a thousand times versioned, Binebine son was languishing in the secret prison of Tazmamart, where the darkness, extreme temperatures, hunger, silence and the absence of a temporal horizon were undermining him without completely breaking him.

Aziz was one of the few survivors of that blind repression of the Moroccan dictator. And his little brother, the well-known artist Mahi Binebine, He has written the story of that father who entertained the king while not making his children laugh, which he reneged in public to maintain his position. Me, jester of the king (Alfaguara) is the story of that drama without drama, because Binebine has chosen humor and oriental story tone to draw his story.

Mohamed Binebine, jester of the king and father of the author Mahi Binebine.
Mohamed Binebine, jester of the king and father of the author Mahi Binebine.

"When my brother was released from prison and brought home, 18 years later, he was almost 50 centimeters shorter, he seemed to be split in two, he was like a survivor of a Nazi camp, he was a dead person in life," says Binebine. "The only four who had survived their pavilion were those who did not harbor hatred."

In the first weeks, the returned brother reproduced his living conditions in prison: he lay on the floor in the most hidden room, in darkness, and spent the hours in silence, but he also fulfilled the two emergencies that broke through as he recovered. the ability to live in freedom: the first was the embrace of his mother, the only one who had maintained the blind faith that he was alive and that he kept food for him every day even though he did not know anything about him. And the second, reconciliation with the father. His mother, then ill with cancer, lived his return as a gift before dying (he died three months later). His father, who had formed another family, was a more difficult matter.

But so free of hate was the newly freed that he asked his little brother to take him to see him. "I did not want to because, for me, my father was the one who had abandoned us, he had denied us, he had broken the family book on television. And yet, my older brother was there telling me: 'Take me to see him'. And I had to take him. As soon as they both saw each other, courtly father and coup-maker hugged each other without stopping to cry. "I discovered that my father was an exceptional being."

When hate dominates you, Binebine learned from his brother, "above all it destroys you, it rarely affects others". Therefore, the painter and sculptor, whose work is part of the permanent collection of the Guggenheim in New York, decided to deliver posthumously to his father the narrative voice of his book, to achieve this aroma Arabian Nights, of multiple stories within a story. "My father was a storyteller and therefore the book had to be like a story. The narrator is him, I let him tell his version, laughs Binebine.

Thus ends a story of a morally enlarged brother as he dwindled in size; of a jester father who did not know how to entertain his children; of a little brother who has given literature a bitterness full of tenderness; of damage as extraordinary as the forgiveness it required; and of a saga of jesters where that patriarch worked for the king and this little son calls himself "jester of my readers". It is, ultimately, "a book of reconciliation, of redemption, of peace. I am also at peace. "


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