Thebes, XVIII Dinasty. Pharaoh Amenofis IV (Akenaton) impulses a religious revolution in order to establish de cult of god Aton, characterized by love and goodness. According to the theory of Sigmund Freud, what the book of Exodus relates is just what happened after the Pharaoh´s death and the end of Aton´s cult, when the jews who were working inside Egypt as slaves decided to seek a new land to implement the religion of love. That means that the God of the Ancient Testament was born in the mind of Akenaton. Nafuria is the name given to Amenofis when he was young, and the novel is the story of these events.
Translated into English by Ana Anstead
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When I was reading Archeology and Eastern and Greek History at the University of Murcia, in Spain, my Professor of Prehistory, Ana María Muñoz Amilibia, explained the singular theory by Sigmund Freud that what the book of Exodus in the Bible is actually saying is what happened after the religious reform of Amenhotep IV had collapsed. The worshippers of the god Aton, who had no physical body, was not a tribal or national god like the other gods and who promoted love and fraternity, decided to go into exile to look for a new land in which to be able to worship him. It is not surprising that most of those followers were the many Jews who then lived in Egypt as slaves or were relegated to the hardest jobs. They were the main beneficiaries of the new god’s conciliatory messages. Freud explained his theory in three essays written in 1934.
I conceived the idea of writing a novel about this totally and absolutely singular episode of History as soon as I had finished my first book, “Gilgamesh And Death”, a recreation on the search for immortality described in the Sumerian myth of Gilgamesh. But, at twenty-five, I did not dare confront the immense task of research and documentation necessary to take on such initiative with dignity. It was a good idea for a book but I found it hard to get the story out easily at the time, so I let it be.
Some people say that no one should write a book before the age of thirty, simply because of the lack of life baggage of all kinds. I think it’s true, even when I wrote two before reaching that age. In the case of “Nafuria” I had a few more years to live yet in order to gain the vital experiences accumulated in that time before I actually felt the need to write this story. As it is my usual, “Nafuria” is a mix of fiction and real facts, but as I often find, the facts I recount are touched by a sort of magic which makes them also seems fiction.
The facts taking place in Egypt during the XVIII Dynasty, already contain all the correct characteristics of a great story. So much so that, surprising as it may seem, it is hard to believe that no writer had up to now turned it into a novel. Pharaoh Amenhotep III was a sexually obsessive man who had so many women in his harem, including some of his own daughters, that he lost track of them all. Yet, he also had to take as wife the fourteen year-old of singular beauty Nefertiti, when he was over forty himself, and a sick old man, as life expectation in those days was lower than now. Upon his death his son Amenhotep IV married the very young widow, but soon after he began to show symptoms of a degenerative neurological disease. The young pharaoh had conceived the idea of a new and only god of love and peace bearing no relation with the traditional gods of Egypt. He then had the unusual initiative to build an entirely new city from scratch in the middle of the desert. All these are already enough factors to make a good story.
But in this work, as in “Gilgamesh And Death”, I wanted to introduce, along with those historical facts, parallel and complementary elements from the fields of spirituality and ancient magic. I think it is essential that I make special mention of one of the characters in the story completely made up by myself:
My friend Manolo Conesa, a great connoisseur of Philosophy and an excellent conversationalist, spent a few years in Cyprus where he met a holy Sufi master named Mawlana. He was so fascinated by his teachings that he converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf. Shortly after, he asked me, as a lawyer, to defend a group of housing tenants in the regional park of Calblanque, in Cartagena, Spain, who were being threatened with collective evictions. Without going into details, this, to me, was the same old story of the weak being oppressed by the powerful, which is for me a constant battle in the exercise of the profession. Another person coordinated these neighbours into one group and he was another young Sufi named Guillermo, whose Arab name is Sayfuddin.
I remember with particular pleasure an afternoon in which the three of us had an extensive conversation about spirituality and the Sufi saints whilst chatting in a bar in Cartagena called El Coyote. Manolo referred to the episode that happened a few years before in Chile, when some miners had been trapped in the bottom of a mine and feared for their survival because oxygen was running out. Manolo said that suddenly, at the bottom of the pit, the miners saw Mawlana and then they began to breathe air so clean that the one later sent in with a probe seemed poor and rarefied. It is true that this does not fit with Cartesian logic or any other, because Mawlana had not moved from Cyprus. However, the reasonable doubts that may arise as a result of such incredible event will be quickly cleared away if the skeptics search on Google “Mawlana miners of Chile” to verify that after the episode, the miners traveled to visit the teacher in his island and many of them converted to Islam.
One morning I was in Cartagena preparing a for new court case for eviction that I had to attend at one o’clock in the afternoon. Studying the case in detail, I suddenly realised that my approach to answering the demand had been somewhat lazy and, as they say, I saw it all black and started to sweat, convinced that the oral hearing would be a failure. So I told Guillermo through a WhatsApp message. But within the hour my mind suddenly cleared with a bright idea that allowed me to present the case before the judge with better arguments, which changed everything and the outcome of the case was a success. It was something I had had right in front of my eyes and even then I had not seen. It was as if someone had removed a veil from my eyes.
After the trial I went to Calblanque to chat with Guillermo. What Diana, his wife, then told me, left me very surprised. Since he works shifts and works all night, he therefore sleeps in the morning, and so it was her who had seen my message. Then she got in touch with Mawlana and he reassured her by telling her not to worry and that everything would be fine. No one can ever take my mind off the conviction that my sudden inspiration was promoted by the master through some spiritual channel unknown to me.
In order to contact Mawlana, Diana had not used a mobile phone, or a landline, or Skype. She transmitted her concern just with her mind. This is already quite impressive, but it becomes magical if I add that by that time Mawlana had been dead for about two years.
The teacher was also talking to Manolo. Once he told him that it was very easy for me to help against the evictions because I seemed to him to be “docile” (an adjective that I do not normally identify with). After that, and as singular as it may seem, impressions, analysis and advice on how to take the defence continue to come from him. As you can imagine, I feel privileged. Not all lawyers can boast of a team including such a character.
In this novel also appears a very wise old spiritual master. At first I thought of describing him as a Gentile, a very old man who appears in a popular narrative of the Basque Country collected by the great José Manuel de Barandiarán. The story tells he was so old that he lacked the strength to open his eyelids, so they had to help him with sticks. But after the experiences that I have mentioned, I considered it more appropriate to give him not only the physical characteristics of Mawlana himself, but also his name. First, I consulted him through Manolo. He said yes.
Being the Mawlana of my novel the same as the real one, I thought it appropriate to include an episode in the mines of Sinai like the story of the miners trapped in Chile, and that is why my story throbs with magic and with life.
Whenever I hear an author say that his novel has written itself and that he did not know what was going to happen on the next page, I have always found it very pedantic. But, astonishingly, this has been my experience whilst writing “Nafuria”. As I said, the story wanted to be written, but it really built itself, leaving me no other role than that of a secretary in charge of taking the minutes.
I have also done quite a bit of cinema. And although I conceived this story as a great spiritual adventure, spiritual facts can not appear on the camera. And so the end result is a great adventure story with a considerably dense spiritual background and some very emotionally charged passages (which I unconsciously call sequences). These passages have come to me as did the rest of the story, of their own accord, and the story played in front of my very eyes like a film, with unexpected cinematographic traits. The star sequence, at the gates of the royal palace of Babylon, is shot at two thirds of the footage and I have seen it again and again projected in my mind as I would see it on the screen of a cinema. When I wrote it, I was unable to hold back tears, and the same thing happened to me with the first and the second review. Such is its intensity. But history does not overflow with this kind of situations appropriate to be watched from a seat at the cinema. It’s not something I intended. It just happened.
I gladly pay tribute to the authors whose work has nourished me to write this story. In Robert Schwartz’s The Plan of Your Soul, I found very valuable revelations about the cycle of reincarnations, particularly the surprising notion that everything that happens in our lives, including accidents and misfortunes, is decided by our own soul before birth, and also the notion that time is not a straight line but a spider’s web, so everything is happening at the same time.
From The Power of Now, written by Eckhart Tolle, I took advantage of the idea that if we stop resisting what the present moment brings to us, whatever that may be, life is on our side and it begins to work for us.
I could not have written this novel without the beautiful work of Philip Vandenberg, Nefertiti, an archaeological biography, which contains a full and interesting account of the events.
I finally thank my sister Ana for the time she has sacrificed instead of spending it on other pleasant tasks for her, such as painting, to translate my manuscript into English.
Tears roll down my cheeks, but not because of fear or rage, but because my next death is caused only by the love and compassion I have wished to deploy onto all creatures, by my displeasure against abuse and injustice and by my eagerness to close the gap between rich and poor, between free men and slaves and between natives of Kemi and foreigners.
Death comes and I do not have a single friend by my side. No one to accompany or to comfort me, as defending me against this horde of fanatics would be an impossibility.
My final goodbye does not cause me fear. However, murderers’ blind hatred does disturb me, hurts me and shakes every fibre of my being like a storm.
I know there is still a way to outwit fate. My bedroom has a back exit so I could escape, but I will not. I do not wish to flee from death, but to embrace it.
The door is about to give way under the ax blows. I finally see its sharp edge peeling through splinters, and every blow sinks forever deeper into my heart. Each beat is like a small death, because what kills me is not the sword, nor the ax but hate, so that before I receive the blow I am already dead.
I will not ask for mercy, I will not retreat nor show the terror that they expect to see. On the contrary, I will defiantly open my tunic inviting the assassins to do what they have come to do, whilst forgiving them and blessing them. No matter what happens, everything is well and is as it should be.
But above all I am serene because I learned that this horrible way to end my days is not the result of chance, or injustice, it is not even the consequence of my actions. It is rather the decision that I, myself, my own soul, had already taken before being born.
I die today, but the seed is sown. My work lives, will grow and will change the face of the earth.
This is my story.