September 12, 2010

Ground Zero in Red Ink...

Where does the line between Reality and the Surreal fall ?
This eerie feeling of the Surreal follows me everywhere I go...I am not exaggerating.
On more than one occasion, I have pinched myself, making sure am not dreaming.


I have many instances of the Surreal hanging on to my sleeves, refusing to let go, like little children clinging, demanding attention, demanding to be heard...


2001.
One of the first surreal images that comes to my mind was when I saw 2 airplanes flying into buildings. At first I thought this was a trailer for yet another Hollywood action film. I waited patiently to see who was starring and co-starring in this new film, to be released worldwide...


But it was no movie production it was real. Then I saw a CNN anchor, within minutes, waving a passport dug up from the piles of rubble and cement turned into dust - a passport intact, bearing the name of a certain Mohammed Atta. I pinched myself hard. I was not dreaming. My phone rang, the first thing I said - can that be true ? not even knowing who the caller was.
And the first thing I heard as a reply - was " Massrahia " Massrahia in Arabic means a theatrical play.


Another surreal image that keeps popping up in my mind came shortly after the play - the image of Bush in a elementary school holding a book upside down - pretending to be interested in some children goat story...
Not too long after that - I heard they will be hunting Muslims goats in Afghanistan. This is what they called the Afghans and Bin Laden, the goat shepherd, was hiding in a cave in Tora Bora, a cave equipped with the most sophisticated technology.


Actually come to think of it - those surreal episodes that have been haunting me - started before that September day. They started back in 1990 - right before the first Gulf War, right before Operation Desert Storm.


1990.
I remember diagrams, power point slides depicting Saddam Hussein's underground bunker, looking like a pyramid, with underground tunnels connecting different "strategic" points in the city of Baghdad. Again, equipped with high technology, computerized boards, push button missiles, extra refined telecommunication devices connected to the Iraqi army's central command.
I thought to myself it must be another trailer from a new Star Trek movie...but it wasn't.


After hundreds of tons of bombs fell on our heads, awaking me from this Science Fiction film, we discovered that the bunkers in question were nothing but sheets of scrap metal, under which poor soldiers took refuge, in the desert.


Then, more surreal images popped up out of nowhere...leaving traces of dried blood in the scorching desert sand...


One of these pictures is American soldiers kicking ball - the ball was an Iraqi head, a severed head, a skull. Another picture is American soldiers keeping Iraqi brains in jars as trophies - but they did leave them in the camp's fridge - good alimentary safety methods. Always keep your human trophies crisp and fresh, just like you do with your animal products - you know, meat, dairy, that kind of stuff...(by the way I heard that your American boys still collect trophies - Afghan fingers - hope you kept them in jars too, like pickles - you know fingers tend to decompose quickly).


My mind flashes to other scenes, they scurry before my eyes and I am here trying to catch one of them, catch one like a fly...


1996.
Yes, it's coming back...The fly - that damned fly in front of my nose. I give it one final blow and it falls to the ground, crashes down like a MIG. I look at it lying between my feet, I grab a tissue, pick it up and place it carefully inside, fold the tissue and keep the shocked and awed creature in my bag. I am hoping to find the old man. I had spotted him in the Souk...I remember him fairly well, he had small beady eyes, no front teeth, a very frail body, a walking skeleton in rags. He was holding a bag in his hand...he approached me with a smile.


"Buy one for me " he said. I looked inside his treasure - a bag full of dead flies. "Buy one as feed for your birds " he said, in a pleading voice.


I kept the embalmed dead fly in my bag, hoping to find the Hajji, and give it to him.


Yes, they are creeping up again, those scenes, like worms from the underbelly of the earth...crawling on my skin again...like in a nightmare.


These were the sanction years. The Hajji with his dead flies, my album of pictures of little monsters from DU, my Frankenstein album, I collected those like the Hajji collected dead flies..and more, more...


A hospital corridor, an emergency room, an ECG with no ink, ink was forbidden. A dead man, an uncle lying there. No ink. The doctor shakes his head. He's gone.


Another image - bronchopneumonia, maybe. We need to run an X ray. No X ray. Forbidden. Grandpa dies.


Another image, image after image...piles of furniture, books, clothes being sold...I pinch myself...it is real. Children jumping from joy when receiving a pencil - pencils were forbidden.


The images now stack themselves in piles in front of me - like documents to be reviewed and approved, like documents piled in front of a United Nations committee, a committee in a room filled with comfortable leather chairs, and men in suits and specs, with the Charter dangling in the background, hung to some flimsy wall about to collapse...


I flip through the images, we are now in 2003.


2003.
Another surreal image pops, sounds and colors...
"Fireworks have illuminated the skies of Baghdad " says a voice with a nasal twang. It's the crack of dawn, 4 am to be precise. I hear a rooster and the call from the Minarets with Allah Akbar, drowning in the flood of explosions...I hold on to the thread thrown my way by the drowning voices, a castaway in a violent sea, holding onto a rope...the call from a minaret and a rooster...


Roosters, roasted...flipping through my mental album...


2007.
 Omar was 13 going onto 14, soon, not soon enough. He lived in Adhamiya. Kidnapped by Shiite militias - the Mahdi Army, whose icon -- the firebrand cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr - is the idol of the alternative media notably the Rosens and Cockburns of this world. Let's leave the driller and his Black & Decker disciples aside for the moment. Omar...


News arrived that Omar was kidnapped, tortured and buried in Najaf - the Black holy city of drills, chains, rods and mass graves.


A Sunni wanting to travel to Najaf to recuperate Omar's body, was like someone signing their own death warrant, like a kamikaze about to perform a Hara-Kiri. But Omar's mother would not let go.
She wanted her son, even if dead... Uncle K. had a brilliant idea. Omar's mother was to travel to Najaf by car but in a coffin. So she did. She lay down in a coffin placed on the car's roof. Another car followed, hoping to bring back Omar in another coffin.


Omar's family was told that in exchange for a sum of money, they will be able to recuperate the body of the deceased. When Um Omar arrived to Najaf, she fell to the ground and kissed the man's feet...he standing up, said in a cold cruel voice - we have no Omar here.


The two cars convoy returned to Baghdad with Omar's mother in the coffin on top of one of the car's roof.


I have more images...each image is tied to a story...I need chapters, volumes to record each.


2010.
The following are not the last in the series of the Surreal. They are a continuation of it. More will come, more will be revealed as the days and years pass, like a sandstorm yellowing the pages of a book whose story never ends, leaving deposits of hot sand, and traces of blood, wounds from daggers in the heart...


A scrap yard, junk, metal, bits and pieces...the US army leaves Ground Zero, on the surface.


American junk litters the soil of Iraq, the soldiers have left this encampment...like an unwelcome visitor exiting your home and leaving behind him a mess...he messed your house, your relations, your life...living off your food and water for years...stealing what he could, breaking what he could, using what he could and fucking what he could...like some of those tourists you spot around the dining tables in a resort hotel, stuffing their faces with as much as they can from the breakfast banquet, stuffing themselves until exploding and carrying away some more with them...filling their pockets, their trousers, their underwear...and then check out, leaving the mattresses of their hotel room infested with pubic lice crawling in pools of dried semen and blood...


So is that junk yard left by the Americans on the outskirts of Falluja, not too far from Mahmoudiah, where Abeer Al-Janabi's skirt was lifted by four American brave boys who feasted on grilled chicken wings and her grilled body.


Fallujah, the Hiroshima and Nagasaki of the new world order, where tumors have become signposts directing you to a city where life once was...where tumors have befriended the children, like a Father Christmas carrying a swollen up bag of toys...


So this is where the Americans left more of their junk...to be sold in kilos, junk made of army toilets, stamped with the white man's feces, a parting letter...scraps of metal from tanks and other weapons of mass destruction, left overs from a friendly fire, from the peace loving people of America -- all for the discount price of 4'000 dollars. Iraqi merchants will purchase the very bits and pieces of metal that killed them for 4'000 dollars. They will recycle them, just like the Hajji in the Baghdad market with his bag of dead flies...


The last picture, for today...for today only, because my story is not ending, not yet...


I have a long story to tell...it has no beginning and no end...so do not consider this as my last chapter, it is one chapter, one chapter with no title and no number...whichever way you flip those pages, you will always fall back on the beginning and the end...


A couple of Americans lived in Kuwait...they drank, fucked, and made loads of money from their ignorance tattooed on their arms and curriculum vita. The Bedouin is a fickle creature of the desert, the Bedouin is the invention of the English man. He works for him, dusts his coat, and hires him. This is how Americans and Brits get hired in the Gulf. Trust me on this one. A couple of whores from England and/or America land and they are considered masters of the land.
I have scrapped through many of them...another surreal moment...the airs that they give, infused with alleged knowledge of the "local culture", in between gin tonics and beers...in between quick shags with prostitutes and business commissions, in between...(I leave that for other chapters)...


So these couple of American prostitutes were traumatized by Saddam's penetration of Kuwait...so the story goes...they were so traumatized, that they, along with the Bedouin pimps for America and Great Britain, and along with the Mullah pimps of Tehran, are claiming compensation for the trauma...


You see, when they saw the Iraqi army marching into Kuwait city, these Americans pissed in their pants. And since that day, they have been stuttering in dollars - 400 Million of them. That's real trauma. Don't you agree ? OK granted it was not as bad as the shaking, trembling limbs from Abu Ghraib after crucifixion and electrical cables wired to your genitals, but still, it's trauma, like major trauma.


I too pissed in my pants...even though I suffer no urinary incontinence. I pissed in my pants when the windows shook and shards of glass flew past my nose -  landing on the table where one single,small candle was burning - like moths wanting to die in the light...


Yes trauma...the trauma of a ground zero, of an infinite ground...traced with red ink, with no beginning and no end.