July 8, 2007

Short Bedtime Stories...

I would have really liked to sing you a bedtime lullaby. Alas, it is simply not possible. And in most likelihood, my voice will keep you very awake. Surely, I do not want to be a cause for your insomnia.
So am offering you a few short stories to lull you into unconsciousness, into a deep catatonic sleep...(not that you really need it.) But just in case you are losing sleep over the ongoing Iraqi genocide.

Once upon a time...

* Once upon a time, was Badiaa, Kamel's wife.
She lived in a small house, borrowed house. Her husband is detained by the American dwarfs and her son has been killed by the same dwarfs.

She would spend many hours sitting in her kitchen, talking to herself.
She sold most of the remaining furniture she had. Only three kitchen chairs were left and she confided in them. Sometimes pretending her husband or son were sitting opposite her and listening to her woes...

One night, not long ago, at 1 am, the "Iraqi" army and the dwarfs stormed her home.
They searched, ransacked and destroyed the little she had left.

"Why, why? Is it not enough you took my husband and killed my son. Why destroy the little I have?"
"It is for your own security. You have a sniper on your roof."

Of course, Badiaa has no electricity. She uses an oil lamp. One of the guards kicks the lamp.
No Genie or sniper came out. But a fierce fire spread wildly, catching the doors, the walls,the curtains and the chairs...

Half of Badiaa's house is now burned down.
"We will send you a cheque." They laughed and walked away in the night.

Now Badiaa has only one chair left in the kitchen. Her walls are smoky black, her doors burned to ashes and her curtains eaten up by fire...
She still sits in the kitchen. She has stopped talking to herself now that the two other chairs are gone.

* Once upon a time was Nasser.
Half of Nasser's family has been decimated, slaughtered by the dwarfs right where the Butcher prospered most...
Every other day Nasser has a funeral.
A family member, 20 years old was detained by the dwarfs and held up in some dungeon in Baghdad for months. No trial, no charges.
For months he was "interrogated" in that dungeon and then transferred to another dungeon in Southern Iraq, a sectarian Iranian stronghold.
After several months, the dwarfs decided to release him. No charges.
They called him up. "Be ready to leave. You will be signing some release papers tomorrow." One more night in the dungeon and he will be free.
That same day, the sectarian militias and some say the dwarfs (and I say both) bombed the prison. A prison filled with Iraqi sunnis.(Omar was there too.)
The boy is dead. He finally left the dungeon...free.

* Once upon a time was Radhee.
A bright, smart, quick witted man...
Radhee has been without a job for well over a year. Radhee is stuck in a walled Sunni enclave called Adhamiya.
Radhee spends his days devising ways and routes to get to the grocer without being shot at by snipers, militias or the dwarfs...
Radhee gave up his daily schemes. Besides you cannot find any fruits or vegetables in the Adhamiya market and meat and eggs are a luxury from the past.
Radhee has no electricity, Radhee has no gasoline.
So Radhee ingeniously invented a way to bake bread in his backyard.
He uses the legs of his furniture as wooden logs and places newspapers on top.
The whole invention makes for a flamboyant outdoor oven. Radhee and his family can now survive on bread and water. Nice home made bread baked on torn furniture parts and newspapers.
One hundred newspaper publications and "free" press have come in very handy. Radhee is now living happily ever "after."

* Once upon a time was Salam.
Salam, a beautiful, educated young woman...
After her kidnapping and her battering ordeal, Salam has become agoraphobic.
She not only is unable to leave the house, she cannot even leave her bedroom.
She lies in bed most of the time, staring at the ceiling and her staring is punctuated by sporadic screams "Please don't, please don't."

* Once upon a time was Raouf.
Raouf, a handsome, loving caring man...
Raouf can no longer sit straight. His ribs all are broken, his wounds badly infected...
He has more stories to tell you and me. Stories that his bruises kept well hidden.
Cigarette burns adorn his body like dark brown halos, like dim, dying stars...

Raouf cannot lie on his back, cannot walk, cannot move...
He is slouched all day and all night, inert, his head bent down and his pictures and papers safely tucked close to him...
Raouf sits, swallowing his open wounds and the stories they hide, in total silence...

Once upon a time, there was us, there was me.
Once upon a time, there were others, many others...
Once upon a time, there were peaceful nights and dreams.
Once upon a time, a long, long time ago.

Sleep well.

Painting: Iraqi female artist, Yaqeen Al-Dulaimi.