Monday, May 17, 2010


Here's to a song that has not changed my life. A song that has not opened my eyes. A song that has not been an inspiration.

But a song that speaks to me because it is so much part of me.

I was probably in school when I heard it for the first time. This was much after its original recording. The singer's vocal adeptness and the passion in his voice captivated me (as it still does). I had no idea what he was singing about. I did not know French at the time. The song to me then was a getting-over-a-crush song, a moving-on-in-life song, an empowering yet understated musical experience in its compactness.
By coincidence, I saw a video by a Danish cross-cultural band named Outlandish (I love this band, more on that later). The same song, similar feeling. Isam Bachiri (I love this gentleman) sang in my language but that was not what hit me. Outlandish seemed to absorb the very same thing I did from the song.
First year of college. Naive and eccentric, I auditioned for my department's rock band. I didn't listen to the Red Hot Chilli Peppers. I listened to Algerian-French rai and other things no one had heard of or cared about. I was eighteen years old and yet to understand the relationship I share with music (a scale of upliftment, therapy and catharsis) but I knew honesty to myself even then. So I sang this song. I got in.

'Ragging' in the 'Fresher's Party'. My punishment was not all that humiliating. I was called to sing in front of 200-odd unfamiliar faces, unfriendly acquaintances, semi-friendly freshers, teachers and rowdy seniors. Same song. The noisy crowd grew silent and began to clap in time to the beat. People and later close friends would call me by the name of the song.

The song didn't change my life. It didn't bring my great tidings. I didn't enjoy the experience with the band, despite the fact that at the concert we sang a song with words I wrote. I didn't win a multi-million dollar singing deal with Barclay Records. I didn't go on some cross-cultural, multi-linguistic talent show and win fame and glory. But it brought me friends. It brought me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Of feeling that I could do something I loved and do it right. If only for once. If only forever.

The song is within me. It represents my...not love, love's too weak a word. My respectful adoration for music and one of the few times music rewarded me back. Music allowed me to sing this song, perfectly or imperfectly, but with all my heart and soul. As my best friend K says about me, "She sings the song as if she created it". But I sing it more as if it were created for me. And this, without knowing what a word of it meant. Now, with a deeper knowledge of French and a fresher, wisened but no less romantic perspective of life, my relationship with the song is renewed and yet remains ever alive, ever sweet. And my heart smiles ever the same way. When I hear those chords. When I hear the first two words. When I hear Khaled's voice soar.

Comme si j'n'existais pas/As if I don't exist
Elle est passee a côte de moi/She was passing by me
Sans un regard, Reine de Sabbat/With no regard, the Queen of Sheeba
J'ai dit, Aïcha, prends, tout est pour toi/I said, Aicha, take this, all of it is for you

Voici, les perles, les bijoux/Here, the pearls, the jewels,
Aussi, l'or autour de ton cou/Also the gold around your neck
Les fruits, bien murs au gout de miel/The fruits, well ripe with the taste of honey
Ma vie, Aïcha si tu m'aimes/And my life, Aïcha if you love me!

J'irai a ton souffle nous mene/I will go where your breath leads me,
Dans les pays d'ivoire et d'ebene/In the countries of ivory and ebony
J'effacerai tes larmes, tes peines/I will erase your tears, your sorrows
Rien n'est trop beau pour une si belle/Nothing is too beautifull for a girl so beautiful

Oooh ! Aïcha, Aïcha, ecoute-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha listen to me
Aïcha, Aïcha, t'en vas pas/Aïsha, Aïsha don't go
Aïcha, Aïcha, regarde-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, look at me
Aïcha, Aïcha, reponds-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, answer me

Je dirai les mots des poemes/I would say the words, the poems
Je jouerai les musiques du ciel/I would play the music of the sky
Je prendrai les rayons du soleil/I would take the rays of the sun
Pour eclairer tes yeux de reine/to light up your dreamy eyes

Oooh ! Aïcha, Aïcha, ecoute-moi/Aïcha, Aïcha, listen to me
Aïcha, Aïcha, t'en vas pas/Aïcha, Aïcha, don't go
Elle a dit, garde tes tresors/She said, "Keep your treasures.
Moi, je vaux mieux que tout ca/Me, I'm worth more than that.
Des barreaux forts, des barreaux meme en or/Bars are still bars even if made of gold.
Je veux les memes droits que toi/I want the same rights as you
Et du respect pour chaque jour/and respect for each day,
Moi je ne veux que de l'amour/Me, I want only love."

Nbrik Aïcha ou nmout allik/I want you, Aïcha and I love you to death
'Hhadi kisat hayaty oua habbi/You are master of my life and my love
Inti omri oua inti hayati/You are my years and my life
Tmanit niich maake ghir inti/I hope to live with you, only you

[Lyrics and Translation Courtesy:]

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