October 24, 2007

At the Gates...


Insomnia has become a trusted friend.
Sleep steals me away from her, for a couple of hours and she jealously snatches me back...
I used to fight her, now I accept. She asks me “what is on your mind?” and my only reply to her is “Iraq.”

I think, breathe, eat, drink, write, dream, cry, sleep...Iraq.
An addiction, an obsession, a torment...

It is not only a question of longing or nostalgia or anger, like a boiling volcano that will never subside...It is not only a yearning for things past, or a grief for people and things gone...

It is deeper, way deeper than that...

When insomnia is sitting next to me, like some night keeper, like some watchdog, like some guardian...I ask myself and I ask her to hand me, the thread, the lead, the clue...the key to this upheaval I feel inside of me.

It is like a wall, I can’t penetrate. And I try to search for some loophole, some crack...anything, simply anything which will help me see beyond it.

Beyond this wall, this thick steel, brick, curtain that is erected in front of me and that follows me everywhere I go, blocking my vision, my horizon, my sight, my future...
An impasse, a cul de sac, a labyrinthe...

I know there is something I need to reconcile with, and yet cannot bring myself to.
A knowledge, a truth, I willfully deny or circumvent...And with which, I battle and wrestle - refusing to accept. Simply refusing.

And uttering this truth, with Insomnia sitting next to me, is like blaspheming at the ancient Gods, then secretly pleading in hiding, to be spared their wrath.

I do not want to share it with you. I do not want you to partake in it. I do not want you to commiserate in it. I do not want you to rejoice in it...

I shall keep it a well guarded secret. Only Insomnia knows, she is the gate keeper and she buries it every night.
And when the first light of dawn knocks at my window, she retreats tiptoeing, carrying it away with her.

At times she is generous with me, she allows me to linger on, eyeing through those loopholes and cracks...and she hands me the key.

And then I spot Her.

I spot Her at the Gates of the old City.

I see Her carrying a suitcase. I tell Her “Come with me, come...leave them.”
And She, holding a suitcase in one hand and a map in the other, looks over Her shoulder...towards the ruins.
She shakes Her head, and walks back through the gates of the old city.

I want to pull Her out, grab her and take Her with me, but I know She will not succumb.
Sometimes, I see her lying by the gates of the old city and a million daggers in Her body. I want to reach out and drag Her through but She kicks and fights back, refusing to surrender.

She cannot leave them behind. They are Her children too. And I cannot leave Her behind either.

She is my motherland, my mother tongue, my country. She is my Mother.

And as I watch through the gates...As I watch Her in her different states...
Sometimes battling with a million daggers, sometimes carrying a suitcase of exile...

You throw words and wilted flowers attached to a thin transparent string, dangling in mid air...And when you are very generous, you throw a worn out, used blanket, pierced with a million holes.

And you tell me and Her, “Here cover yourselves, with this blanket, and hold on to that thread.”

Leaving us both, fighting the demons, at the gates of this old city.
Leaving us both in the wakefulness brought by your Destruction...


Insomnia has to go now, it is broad day light. She has just walked out the door, carrying your wilted flowers, your words and your worn out blanket. Throwing the whole bundle in a pile of Garbage.

A pile of garbage, soon to be swept away like dust...
Like dust from the Gates of this old city. This old city in ruins.


Painting: Iraqi artist, Moed Mohsen (date n/a)