Un An Après A Year Later

Un an après les attaques terroristes sur Paris, je viens de terminer Vous n’Aurez Pas Ma Haine écrit par Antoine Leiris. Ce livre mince mais déchirant de sobriété et d’humanité me semble  particulièrement approprié à la période troublée que notre monde contemporain traverse.

Dès que les nouvelles d’un attentat au Bataclan se confirment, Leiris comprend que son enfant devient sa priorité numéro un. Il ne sait pas encore que la femme de sa vie, la maman de Melvil, est l’une des victimes de la tuerie. Mais il sent déjà la nécessité de protéger leur enfant. Malgré son chagrin et sa solitude immenses qui suivent la reconnaissance du corps de sa femme adorée, il se concentre entièrement à Melvil, poignant d’innocence et d’intelligence lorsqu’il ressent de tout son jeune être l’absence anormale et définitive de sa maman.

Peu après, Leiris écrit sa lettre ouverte aux terroristes. Vous n’Aurez Pas Ma Haine émeut des milliers d’hommes et femmes sur Facebook. Il entreprend alors le récit de ce mois de novembre, gris et sans fin, qu’il choisit de vivre pour et avec Melvil.

Aucune mère ne peut lire ce livre sans avoir une boule d’émotions logée dans la gorge. Aucun père sans doute non plus. Et aucune personne qui en aime une autre ne peut rester de pierre face à la douleur que Leiris éprouve et décrit de manière si dépouillée qu’elle serre le ventre.

L’attention spontanée et si maternelle des mamans de la crèche du petit Melvil au travers des petits (et aussi trop grands) pots de soupes et purées faites maison qu’elles concoctent, et que ni Melvil ni son père ne mangent parce qu’ils ont toujours préféré la nourriture toute faite des supermarchés, procure un moment de bonheur domestique et aussi d’humour bienfaiteurs dans la lecture de ce livre bouleversant.

La routine dont le petit Melvil a besoin est ce qui redonne, jour après jour, racine à son père et ultimement le sauve.

La décision de Leiris, d’abord instinctive puis réfléchie, de tout faire pour rendre son fils heureux plutôt que de lui apprendre la haine des meurtriers de sa mère est la preuve d’une exceptionnelle intelligence de cœur et d’une rare volonté de vivre au-delà de la vengeance que la violence suscite naturellement.

Vous n’Aurez Pas Ma Haine est maintenant disponible en anglais. Je l’ai découvert parce que la couverture avec sa tour Eiffel ont attiré mon attention sur l’étagère des nouveautés de ma bibliothèque de quartier.

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A couple of weeks ago, as I was checking the new books added to my local library, a book caught my attention. My heart will always skip a beat when I see a cover that evocates Paris. I added the book to my usual pile of children and YA novels and read it that very same day.

As today marks the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks in Paris I find the sober heartbreaking book more relevant than ever.

Antoine Leiris’s wife was at the Bataclan, attending a concert, on November 13. He was home watching their seventeen-months-old son Melvil, fast asleep while his papa was trying to stay awake, with the TV on. As he waited for his wife to come home, the news fell on the screen. There had been an attack at the Bataclan. Some people had already died, many more were wounded.

Leiris couldn’t imagine that his wife was among the victims, and yet obeying a primal instinct he switched to survival and protection mode. For Melvil. For this baby who would wake up in a few hours without his mama to kiss him good morning.

It would take Leiris a couple of days to finally know for sure that his wife was killed at the Bataclan. And another day to write his open letter to the terrorists and post it on Facebook. Vous n’Aurez Pas ma Haine or You Will Not Have My Hate went instantly viral.

Originally published in French, his book Vous N’Aurez Pas Ma Haine is written over the course of the few days that follow Leiris’s personal tragedy as he has already decided that his little boy deserves happiness.

Melvil is so young that he can’t express his immense sorrow when he understands that his mama won’t ever come home. His pain, though, is heartwrenching and no mother will be able to read this book without feeling a ball of emotion lodged in her throat. No father will either. And anyone in love will cry with Leiris when the absence of his wife is so physically palpable that he doesn’t know if he will ever feel anything but a hole in his chest.

The slim book is filled with emotions expressed so soberly that the passages about the mothers from Melvil’s nursery sound almost humoristic. The young mothers respond to the tragedy with genuine concern for the baby and his papa. They prepare countless jars of homemade soups and purees that neither the son nor father feel like eating because neither Leiris nor his wife cooked homemade food.

Ultimately Melvil’s need for his routine is what will re-root his father in reality and save him.

And Leiris’s deliberate choice to deprive the terrorists from his hate and from his son’s hate is simply outstanding.

Now available in English, You Will Not Have My Hate is an extraordinary lesson about dignity, survival and love in the aftermath of brutal loss.

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Comments

  1. This is so moving. One little thing: The English text says that Melvil is 17 years old, but context suggests that he’s a lot younger — 17 months, or even weeks? I didn’t see his age in the French.

  2. My mother disappeared when I was six and no-one talked about it. I didn’t know I was sad until a year or so later when I heard a grownup say ; have you ever noticed how sad that child’s eyes are?. My heart aches for them….

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