The Call.

My mother first set foot in France when she was fourteen, all skinny, curious and scared, hiding in my grandmother’s skirts. They came from Algeria a few years after the liberation, to find work and hope. My grandmother was tall and funny, and all she wanted was to make an honest living to see that her daughter and her son would have better lives than her own.

They settled in Corsica, where the first generation of immigrants from Maghreb were already making an impression. It was the time of the “good Arab” – the one that would settle, work hard, look down and send money to the family back in the homeland.

The homeland they would dream about going back to, one day.

My mother didn’t see it like that. Unlike my grandmother, she could read. She had been to school in Oran, loved books, and if she did have an accent, she spoke French to perfection.

She also had a wild beauty and a fierceness in her eye that burns through the photos of this era. She was beautiful, with the brightest smile you could ever see. She had grown in poverty and had learned to be quick on her feet, to never complain and only rely on herself.

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