Life Style

Xavier Le Clerc: “I wanted to pay tribute to my father and to a whole generation of immigrants”

“My father was born in Kabylia in the 1930s. He was one of those children who grew up in poverty that Albert Camus talks about in his articles. The famine was such that they fought over scraps with the dogs, he wrote. My father’s childhood was framed by the Second World War, and his adolescence by the Algerian war, during which he was tortured. At 25, he emigrated to France, where he worked in the factory all his life.

Work was his backbone

Despite the difficulties, I never heard him complain. One day he fell into a coma but that didn’t stop him from returning to the factory the next day. He was a very dignified person, who had the will to survive and to sacrifice himself for his wife and nine children. Work was his backbone. So much so that, when he was put on early retirement, he walled himself up in silence.

Like so many others, my father was “a man without a title”. Someone who only had his worker’s card, his transport and residence permits. With my book, I wanted to pay homage to him and, through him, to a whole generation of immigrants.

Our relationship was not easy. He was a taciturn person, who sometimes had outbursts of anger, but who was mostly absent. He left very early in the morning for the factory, with his iron bowl, and came back very late at night, with his brow creased like a wrecked car.

We both knew we were saying goodbye

I spent more time with my mother whom I took for the pillar of the world. I accompanied him everywhere to translate French for him. I was a tomboy but I couldn’t talk about my homosexuality. When I was 20, I opened up about it to my older brothers and they asked me to shut up to save the honor of the family. Unfortunately, there were rumors and I had to flee.

Before leaving, I went to see my father, who asked me if the rumor was true. I replied that I had no intention of getting married. I expected a hostile reaction but he didn’t judge me. He was, on the contrary, writhing in pain because he was worried about me. He hugged me, which he didn’t usually do, and we both knew we were saying goodbye. »


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