December 25, 2007

Holiday Blues...

I think last Christmas and this one are the worst I have ever experienced...

I did not celebrate the Eid, and will not be celebrating Christmas either. There is nothing to celebrate.

Thousands of lambs have been slaugthered, and the blood of Jesus has not stopped dripping by the gallons.

I did not even dare call the Christian side of the family and wish them anything.
I just sent a message with "God protect us all."

I know that Christmas is a difficult time for a few people. Different reasons.
Family gatherings are not always pleasurable, they may bring back memories of a family one had always wished was different...Some people don't even have a family to celebrate with. And some have been in grief for what seems like an eternity, and they no longer have the heart for anything, anymore...

I belong to the last category. Not only me, but most of the people I know, at least most of the people that surround my little world.

My little world that has shrunk to the computer and minimal contact with the outside. The mental and physical ghetto like existence...where all the bridges have been burned and where we are all hanging by a thread...

Frankly, even writing this is too difficult for fingers force themselves on that keyboard, only because the words have been knocking wanting to get out...

I play little games with myself. For instance I promise myself that today, I will not watch the news, read them or talk to anyone that might tell me yet another story of despair...Sometimes I pledge not to approach this computer either...Not to open my mail, not to read the comments, not to...

I have fantasies of a button that I can switch off, but it's only a fantasy.

Reality has become a second skin...And one would have hoped that by now, that skin would have thickened into something rough, but alas that is not the case.

All is still raw and will remain raw for a long time. Dictates of a Reality from which there is no escape, unless I start mastering the perfect art of Denial, which quite a lot of you are very proficient in.

I guess it is a little too late in my case.

I was talking to an Iraqi friend the other day and he said to me he was very unhappy, chronically unhappy...And he added "lucidity is not helping me either."
I guess you don't have that problem. I envy you.

My mother is also going through the same...She is silent most of the time and I caught her, on more than one occasion, crying on her praying mat. She misses home. She feels lost...Me too, I feel lost. We all feel lost.

The other day we were watching a T.V program on Iraq, and usually around her, I try to measure my words, but that day I was not vigilant enough and blurted out
"Iraq is finished, they finished Her off."

She turned towards me with supplicating eyes and said "I beg of you, don't ever say that again."

We are constantly fooling ourselves with words...with sentences that we carefully and elaborately construct, twisting and turning around ideas and phrases so as to avoid saying the unspoken, that truth that no one wants to hear and that no one dares to utter...

Yes, we are hanging by a thread.

Some family members are still in prison and we still don't know what the charges are and if they are alive or dead. Others have disappeared with no news. Others are scattered and their homes destroyed. Friends have vanished. And my little palm tree died, so I was told. And another 5 trees have died. No water. Still no water, no electricity and no fuel...

We are praying for rain now, rain from the skies to quench the thirst...that thirst, those so many levels of thirst...

The soldiers came around again, the Americans ones, and they broke Radhee's door again. This time they found something. They opened the fridge and saw a dozen bottles of Pepsi Cola.

"What for this Coke? Who are you entertaining? You live here alone with your wife, why do you need 12 bottles of soda?"
"I have grandchildren that might visit me for the Eid" Radhee said.
"Well, they won't."

And the soldiers took the bottles of Pepsi and drank them.
The little pleasures that Radhee kept for his grandchildren...just in case they dared to come to his walled neighborhood...

The little things and the big things have become interchangeable, mixed...and the lines have become blur.

Little things become big things and Radhee who hardly ever complained when he lost his job, lost his son, lost his sister, lost his nephew, broke in tears because of the soda bottles...

And the big things, like the kidnapping of someone very close and his disappearance is met with a stoic silence and frozen faces...

The lines have become very blur but they all draw the one and same thing --Occupation.

Occupied in summer, fall, winter and spring. Occupied in the Eid and in Christmas. Occupied.

We have all become prisoners, one way or the other...The inside and the outside meet and they point to that same Reality.

Even those of us who went as far as they can go like Hala who ended up at age 65 in the U.S not knowing anyone...

I finally got news from her. She is forced to work in a supermarket for over 9 hours a day. She has no car. So she relies on a neighbor to take her to work and back. She has a meagre salary of 1'500 dollars a month. After tax and paying her rent and her "refugee fees", she is left with 200 dollars to eat.

In that supermarket, she spends the whole day in the "freezer room" taking out food stuffs...she is freezing all the time. She has become frozen. And the only thing that gives her warmth is when she gets home and cries herself to sleep.
"My tears warm me up" she says.

Miles away and she is a prisoner too. A prisoner like the rest of us. A prisoner of " Liberation, Freedom and Democracy."

You see, each one of us lives in a walled existence. The walls are everywhere, on the inside, on the outside. Inside our heads and around our hearts and...outside our windows.

It has all become very blur, blurred lines for a blurred existence, a tunnel existence...

And as this Iraqi Christian woman said, talking about Christmas.

"I do not see any light at the end of this tunnel. It's a very, very dark one.
As long as there is no strong leader and government that knows how to take control, the chaos and terror will go on and on. You will see."
(article here)

And there was a strong leader but now he's gone. Gone a few days after Christmas and gone right before the New Year and gone on the day of the Eid.

Who can replace him and bring back things the way they were ? Who will control the chaos and the terror?

It's very blur and very somber...It's beyond just a passing mood of Holidays blues.
You will see...

Painting: Iraqi artist, Kathem Al-Dakheel