May 3, 2007

A Bed of Roses, A Bed of Thorns.



What was that saying I had memorized eons ago?
Ah right! Now I remember. "A rose by any other name smells as sweet".

I remember as a teenager, I would repeat this proverb over and over in my head , when my first crush threw a wild daisy my way, plucked from the neighbor's garden.
I held that daisy pretending it was a rose and it did smell as sweet - well sort of...

I am sure Suzanne's roses smelled very sweet too.
I received a zillion megabytes of pictures of her wedding.
Suzanne finally tied the noose, sorry meant the knot. My cynicism occasionally gets the better of me ... So sorry Suzanne.

Suzanne majestically dressed in the proverbial white dress, gazing with desperately loving eyes into her soon to be husband's.

In the background, tons of roses , thousands of them decorating this eternalized picture and all the others...

The wedding party , a "creme de la creme" gathering , in some super de luxe 10 stars hotel in some Middle Eastern capital...

Everyone looks ecstatic at the sumptuousness of the surroundings and the decor and they look very jovial and merry - A kind of drunk merry - A strange thing since it was supposedly a "dry wedding"...
But if you look closely at the dinner tables, you would see lots of teapots, hidden behind the roses...
Tea with smoked salmon and filet mignon sauce champignons de Paris ?
Suzanne also sent me a scanned photo of the menu...

And more roses and rose petals covering everything and everyone...Tables, floor, chairs, singer, dancing guests, bride and groom and of course the teapots...
Enough roses to sink the Titanic.

Please don't get me wrong , am very happy for Suzanne, but why so much roses?
I mean, there are so many good causes, so many needy people around and instead of spending thousands of dollars on roses, give the money to someone whose wretched life has made it impossible for him/her to smell food let alone roses...For instance like in Iraq.

And what is this business of white dresses? I mean what for?
In the Islamic tradition one wears white when someone dies.
Does that mean that the bride is signing her death warrant on her wedding ?
Ok, ok, am being cynical again...
During the Hajj period, the pilgrims wear white too...symbolizing death of self in view of a new rebirth...
So I guess all these brides are going to be born again into matrimony...saying goodbye to "virginity" - metaphorically speaking of course...
But what is virginity?
Look at Iraq, she was a virgin and she has been wearing nothing but red and black since her "wedding " day...

If I ever get married again, unlikely with my cynicism (occupation do these things to you), I don't want any of this white dress business. I shall wear red.
Bright red.
The color of blood, the color of roaring, erupting volcanoes, the color of a dying sun, the color of passion , the color of Resistance...The color of Iraq.

Yes, red it is and red it shall be ...until we are born again.

Back to the wedding pictures.
Rose upon rose, it all looked so sweet.
Roses in the background staring at you, whilst the newly wed stare in desperado into each other's eyes...

Which reminds me of the desperate, hollow look of a Baghdad florist.
That courageous man who dutifully opens his empty shop daily, despite the snipers, despite the car bombs, despite the mortar explosions, despite the militias, despite the arbitrary arrests...

He says : " Business is bad, very bad. Nobody buys flowers anymore. I used to receive them from Jordan. Nobody can afford flowers, nobody cares about flowers, now I have nothing to sell...
People used to get married and have parties. Now it is a quick thing. A one hour job, usually between 1 and 2 pm. Security reasons. No parties, no weddings, no singing, no dancing, no white dresses, no roses.... Business is very bad, really bad..."

The shop next door is a coffin maker. He on the other hand is doing extremely well. Possibly the only lucrative "entrepreneur" in Baghdad who is prospering.
" Not enough time " he says. " Much demand and not enough wood ".
In fact coffins have become very expensive and seems that people have no time limits, like brides and grooms, when it comes to coffins...They are in demand 24/7.

I wonder if our Baghdadi florist will make it another day and if someone decides that he should "leave", will someone throw a rose on his tomb or will his neighbor give him a special discount for the coffin?

I don't think coffin makers run the risk of getting massacred ...People, whatever their allegiance, still like to bury their dead.
I have no special worries about the coffin maker...I just know he will be fine.

Imagine for one moment, that an American bride, or any other bride for that matter, cannot have a wedding for security reasons.
No wedding party, no guest lists, no church, no vows, no priest, no dancing, no banquet, no champagne, no wedding cake, no pictures, no honeymoon, no white dress and no roses...

Imagine for one moment that some American bride has to get married between 1 and 2 pm exclusively.

I mean prospective brides whine and nag enough as it is...and what if they can't have it all on that "very special " day? Oh my God, can you imagine the post traumatic effect...

Ok am sorry Suzanne, I really wish you and all the other brides to live happily ever after on your bed of roses.
Do forgive my wry sense of humor, the occupation has screwed up my " romantic" predisposition.
And since I am unable to offer you a wedding present , please accept these few lines from one of my favorite poets, Pablo Neruda, instead.

" Y fui como un herido por las calles
Hasta que comprendi que habia encontradas
amor, mi territorio de besos y volcanoes "


My very, very humble translation -
" And I would stroll the streets as a wounded
to understand in the end, that I have discovered
my love, territory of kisses and volcanoes " .



Oh yes, a rose by any other name would smell as sweet in my thorny territory of love and volcanoes...

Painting: Iraqi female artist, Semira Wahab.