July 14, 2010

An Open Wound...


Everything that is related to Iraq pains me deeply...everything I read, every Iraqi I see, everything I remember, every song I hear, every picture I come across...

Iraq is an open wound that will never close, will never heal...Iraq is my raw open wound...

I've tried several times to get to the bottom of the pain, I've always believed in getting to the bottom of things, fearlessly so...this does not mean that at times I did not shun away, avoiding it at all cost, sure I've done that too, but when the wave washes over, more often than not, I let it come...

And tonight is one of those waves washing over...crushing itself on hard rock.

The silence, indifference, abandonment...of Iraq is the hard rock...but who can stop the waves ?
By God tell me who can ?

It pains me so much to see Iraq so devastated. No, let me be courageous here -- it does not pain, it rips me apart...it tears my soul... my heart. Maybe I've become the timid voice of devastation --  the voice out of the ruins...

I say timid, because however forceful I may come across, my voice feels like an echo resounding from a graveyard, where all is silent around me...the silence of death.

It does not take much to make me plunge in the wave...it can be anything...any little thing...

It can be an article on the people of Falluja -- not only nuclear waste running in their bodies, but also inhaling the smell of sewage that floods their streets and seeps into their food. It can be another article about another Iraqi woman selling her body, in desperation. It can be an idiotic film like the one I was watching last night, a stupid Egyptian film (like most Egyptians films), the guy in the film supposedly went to Iraq, met Saddam Hussein, met G.bush, and ended up in Abu Ghraib - only to be saved by an nice American brave boy. It was supposed to be a politico comic film.  Egyptians are really going downhill. I can tell from the quality of their films...

What stuck with me from this third rate Egyptian film, was the Abu Ghraib scene...I saw it in my mother's eyes too, they froze. Her old trembling hands turned into clenched fists...there was nothing in the scene like the real Abu Ghraib, but the name was sufficient...

I tried calming her down, I said " Mum it's only a stupid Egyptian comic film.." she replied without a blink   "this is no film, this is us, this is what happened to us...what is happening to Iraq - we've all become Abu Ghraib "...

There was nothing I could say to that...she said the Truth...

Today another thing made me plunge again...I wanted to put some order in my 100000000 papers lying everywhere, like black and white mountains...I don't know how I stumbled upon this : an old glossy magazine with some torn pages dated 1980. I must have brought it with me. Why did I bring it with me ? I looked at the withering cover and the name of the magazine was UR. I wanted something from UR and I picked the first thing that I laid my hand upon...

I flipped through it, half of it was dedicated to Palestine...the other half to Iraqi art, calligraphy, architecture, archeology and literature...

Now I remember this magazine UR, it was printed on a monthly basis by the Iraqi Cultural Center and distributed for free. Everything in this Iraqi cultural center was Free. Art exhibitions, lectures, traditional fashion designs shows, concerts, beautiful artistic reproductions, posters specially designed by artists, prizes for the best creator, poetry evenings, art classes, receptions with food and drink and of course the UR magazine...all for free...free of charge.

High quality production of nearly everything...top quality.

I put down the only copy of this magazine I've managed to exile with me...I retained the date 1980.

I was transported back in time, back to this era...and I saw how Iraq slipped down gradually...1979, the psychopath, deranged agent of the West - Khomeini - came to power in Iran. In 1980 that lunatic wanted to free Jerusalem via Baghdad - an excuse to destroy Iraq with a war that left us very feeble, 8 years later...with thousands of both Iraqis and Iranians dead, and Jerusalem more occupied than ever...

I will not go into all the historical details of the war...but I firmly believe that 1979 was a turning point not only for Iran but also for Iraq. The old Persian chauvinism was here again under an Islamic cloak...a so-called Islamic cloak...

Today in retrospect, I affirm without the shadow of any doubt that Iran has been incremental in the total destruction of Iraq and that -- since the 80's. What I am witnessing today is the natural outcome of this deep Iranian hatred for anything Iraqi, orchestrated, planned and facilitated by the American Zionist occupation of Iraq. Of this, I have zero doubt.

UR is lying in front of me...I compare 1980 and 2010, from the pages of an old torn magazine...

Someone wanted UR dead.

I flip again through the pages, I stumble upon translated Palestinian poetry.

I will copy a few lines, stanzas here...faithfully translated into English by an Iraqi back in 1980.

Here upon your chests we remain like a wall,
And in your throats
Like a piece of glass, or like cactus thorn
And in your eyes
A hurricane of fire
Here upon your chests we remain like a wall.
We wash dishes in the bars,
We fill the glasses of the master race
And wipe the tiled floors in dark kitchens,
So that we can drag out
A morsel of food for our children
From between your grey fangs.
Here upon your chests, we remain like a wall.
Hungry, destitute, defiant,
We sing our poetry,
And fill the angry streets with demonstrations,
And fill the prisons with our pride,
And make our children
Into generation after generation of avengers....

(Here We Remain by Tawfiq Zayyad)

I flip more pages and here is another one by the Palestinian poet Samih Al-Qassem, again faithfully translated by an Iraqi back in 1980...

Here are the veins of my life
Take them and weave from them
For our children in revolt.

I flip more pages and stumble on yet another one...by another Palestinian poet, again loyally translated by an Iraqi, and another poem and another...

Poetry stuck in between Hatra - the city of Sun and Nimrud, in between the Tigris and the Euphrates...in between eras,  in between our history, in between our lines and pages...

I grabbed one remnant of UR with me.  I must have stuffed it in my suitcase, in between the pages of a passport with no official stamp, in between the pages of a passport stamped - Exile.

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Betool Fekaiki.