June 14, 2010

It's All in the Head...



I went for my usual walk...my own way of gathering my thoughts, because sometimes my head is all over the place. And that's why, when someone asks/tells  me -- don't you feel alone, you seem so secluded most of the time,  my standard reply is -- you are never alone with your thoughts. I suppose my head keeps me company, or more aptly, my reflections keep me company. And this is the kind of company I usually don't mind...

Had I been with another person during this afternoon walk, I would have never found out what I found out today. I would have been too busy listening to the other person's chatter - woes and wishes...and the obvious would have eluded me.

Truth always lies in the obvious, in the simple facts...I know it's too complicated to understand sometimes, but the problem lies not with simplicity but with your heads.

I noticed that oneof the owners of one of the houses I usually walk past, has planted a couple of palm trees right outside his house gate.

Now palm trees always remind me of Iraq. Always. I don't care where I spot them, it can be in Florida, California, Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia or anywhere else...for me, a Palm tree equals Iraq. And I do miss my little palm tree - my nakhla as they call it in Arabic. I had one in my garden, but that was a long time ago...

I also noticed that these palm trees had grown, really grown, and they were carrying dates, green dates, not ripe yet...not enough. They would be ripe and give us their sweetness by September...

I saw the gardener climbing down one of the palm trees. We call him Assaf al Nakhal.
He ties a huge jute belt, bag, around his waist and climbs up to either cut away the dead leaves or pick the fruits...When I see a Assaf, I know he must be an Iraqi or an Egyptian who learned the art from an Iraqi, because nowadays most use electric ladders to get to the head of the palm tree.

But this guy was an Iraqi, I knew it immediately. I observed him climbing up and down with much dexterity...he saw that I was observing him...so I smiled his way and approached him... Salam Aleikom I said, Hala wa Marhaba  (typical Iraqi greeting)  he replied.  Yes, he was definitely an Iraqi

- Can I take a few of those branches you just cut ?
- Why do you take the dead branches, I can give you some green ones
- No, no, I just want a couple of those, is that okay ?
- Of course, take as many as you want...
- Just one or two...
- Yabba, take as many...you don't need to ask
- How long have you been doing this, climbing up palm trees ? I see you are very proficient at it.
- Ya ukhti, (sister), I am an agricultural engineer, but what can we do, destiny has willed it this way, I have to earn a living...
- But you do it so well, as if you've always done it...
- I grew up surrounded by palm trees, but excuse me are you an Iraqi ?
- Yes I am
- I thought so too...so  let me tell you about palm trees, not many people know that, every other kind of tree if you cut it from its roots, it dies, but not the palm tree...
- What do you mean ? how can that be ?
- I am telling you, they are my specialty. The palm tree dies only when you cut off its head, but if you don't cut off its head, you can replant it anywhere in the world and it will still grow...
- So a palm tree's survival is all in its head not its trunk, nor its roots ?
- Yes that's right, the head goes, the whole palm tree dies.

Need I say more ? It's too obvious. It's all in the head, isn't it ? The head goes, the whole edifice crumbles and the palm tree dies. It's that simple.


Painting :Iraqi artist, Ahmad Al-Karkhi.