May 14, 2007

The Sound of Silence

I don't know about you, but for me, every spring, I go through the season's motions best described as a frantic, quasi obsessive "mission" of cleaning, boxing, rearranging, disregarding "stuff".

The urge takes me and does not let go until I feel I have "sorted out" objects from the past...

Whilst on my spring "crusade" of infinite order, of un-cluttering my surroundings and hopefully my life in the process, I came across a dusty old box of audio cassettes.

You know audio cassettes? I know these things are no longer in fashion, having been replaced by CD's, MP3's,Ipods...

Well, I still have cassettes, hundreds of them and I have kept my vinyl records too...Some things from the past, I seem to have difficulty letting go of.

By the way, people in the Middle East still use cassettes or tapes. CDs still remain a luxury for most...

Copyrights of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) state that no cheaper CDs can be made...but people do cheat and if they are caught they are heavily fined and some find their shops closed down.

Where is WIPO when Iraqi academics are shot left, right and center? What about their intellectual property?
Or when Iraqi antiquarian libraries are burned down to ashes?
Or when ancient archeological sites are polluted with stupid, idiotic, yankee graffitis by the pissing brave boys?
Graffitis on Mesopotamian ruins, like "Johny boy loves SueAnn", or "Michael was here", or "Hey Babylon"...
But of course WIPO and UNESCO are silent, snoring away next to K.Annan then, and now continuing their sleep next to Ban Ki Moon...

Don't want to get sidetracked by the U.N and its "agencies" as I can write a book about these bastards...So back to my old dusty box and to the harmlessly familiar.

I was so tempted to chuck it and all of its content away. I had not touched it in years. And principles of Feng Shui state that if you have not used something in 6 months, you are unlikely to use it at all.

I beg to differ with "Mr." Feng Shui, because my magic box had a different story to tell.

I have kept this box for over 20 years even though am no hoarder by nature.
Over 20 years of a hidden something...
I opened it like a child opening a packaged present, with all of the excitement of the world...
A box holding all the ominous possibilities maybe?

And what tapes did I find in it?
Old lyrics from old songs, songs from the post 60's, post-Vietnam era...
Songs, I actually took the time to tape from records. It must have taken me days and days of recording...

Songs from Carly Simon, Carol King, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman, Joan Baez, Art & Garfunkel and many, many more...
My, I had patience 20 years ago!

I listened to them all over again and am listening to them again on my walkman as I am typing this...Yes, I have no Ipod and no computer anymore.

Carly Simon is singing "You're so vain". This song reminds me of a certain category of pseudo-intellectual Arab men. The title is self explanatory...
Randy Newman's "Little criminals" is now playing. I guess that needs no commentary either...
Carol King is next with "It's too late". A song I dedicate to the Iraqis who danced with joy while dipping their fingers in purple ink...
Now it's Joan Baez turn with "Its all over now Baby blue" - Ever so accurate.
And now, it's Art & Garfunkel with one of my favorites, "The sound of silence"...

Have you ever listened to the Sound of Silence yourself ?
I have.

When cyber "well wishers" send me viruses, worms, germs and a whole panoply of "weapons of mass destructions", trying to shut me up for weeks - That is the sound of silence.

When journalists are killed on a daily basis, 4 last week in Kirkuk and when "Journalistes sans Frontieres" state that Iraq is the most dangerous country in the world for reporters (over 184 have been dead so far) - That is the sound of silence.

When militias from Iran, kidnap, torture, rape and slaughter what they consider "possible, potential" resistance voices - That too is the sound of silence.

When a people are walled in, made prisoners behind a thick barrier and not allowed to leave their ghetto after certain hours, 9pm to 6 am - That is also the sound of silence.

When over 122'000 Iraqi babies below the age of 5 have been killed since 2005 either through violence, disease, lack of medical care, or malnutrition and when 1 child out of 8 will not survive his/her 5th year - That is definitely the sound of silence.

When "liberation" forces massacre more children with their liberation, two of them last week - That is the sound of silence.

When a 80 years old man, diabetic and with a heart condition is detained in the middle of the night under the pretext that he is a "potential" terrorist- That too is the sound silence.

When an Iraqi woman fears walking the streets or is raped because she belongs to the wrong sect, and she then imprisons herself at home, suffocating her voice - That is the height of the sound of silence.

So what were the lyrics of the "Sound of Silence"?
"Hello Darkness, my old friend..."
Now followed by another Art & Garfunkel song "My Little Town" and the words are:
"Nothing but the dead and dying in my little town"...

Oh wait...I can't believe my ears...I hear my own voice now on this tape.
I have recorded over "my little town" this poem which I wrote over 20 years ago.
It is not such a great poem but do you want to hear it? I will share it with you if you wish. My poem from my old dusty box.

It is called "Poem about America"

The people of Hiroshima
are still crying
blind eyes, tears of blood.
The people of Chile
are still bruised,
mutilated bodies.
The children of Vietnam
are still burnt
skins falling
incinerated bones.
The people of Palestine
are still castrated,
In Lebanon,
the odor of the dead
saturates the streets.
In Guatemala,
the land is raped,
the stomachs empty.
In the Sahel,
the bodies are dry,
the eyes hollow.
In India,
the dustbins overflow
with corpses
and human decay.
Where to now my enemy?
Where to now my oppressor?
Your ghettoes are filled
with misery and suffering
Your prisons are filled
with hungry thieves
Your streets are filled
with headless bodies
Your brothels are filled
with torn women
Where to now?
Where to now?

As I said this simple poem was written by me when I was 21 years old.
Here I was a 21 young "internationalist".
And instead of day-dreaming of the prince in shining white armor, I was writing poems about America's oppression of the world.

Where to now my enemy, where to now my oppressor?
Little did I know then, that the "where to now", is Iraq, decades later...
Just replace each of the countries mentioned with Iraq and you are taken to the year 2007.

The tape is reaching its end...
Don Mc Lean is singing "Bye Bye Mr.American Pie"...

Maybe Mr.Feng Shui is right, I need to say goodbye to these post Vietnam "liberation" songs ...
Not much has changed since, except no one composes songs for Iraq.
I remember now, we have "failed to capture the American imagination".

Bye Bye Mr.American Pie and am back to " the Sound of Silence"...of "my Little Town".

Apologies to Mr.Paul Simon. It is Simon & Garfunkel and not Art &...
I did say once I was bad with names - So please don't shoot me.OK?

Painting: Iraqi female artist, Betool Fekaiki.