May 30, 2011

Little Saints...2

It took me 3 days to dim the image of little Saint Rita, deformed and blind, running lost in a hospital corridor, bumping into broken chairs and bed with no sheets...with her name tagged around her neck like a dog's collar...it took me 3 days...and am wondering how many days will it take me to dim the following image from my mind ?

Yet I know the little saints icons will never be erased from my mind, they will forever remain a torch of truth burning, burning bright, the flames of Truth...

Diyala province, on the outskirts of Baquba.

The US brave boys, the rapists, torturers and killers who crossed oceans stinking of greed and hatred, bombed a lone house made of mud and bricks, in a field, on the outskirts of Baquba. Sunni insurgents - they said.

Troops then encircled the house, taking the mother and father. They were never seen again. The house collapsed except for one room. After some time, when things calmed down, a distant neighbor passed by the field and entered the house, he does not know why, he assumed everyone in the household was already dead.

What he saw, he still recounts with tears. In that one small room, he saw four orphans left behind, emaciated. 3 boys and one girl. The eldest boy was 11, the second 7, the third a 4 year old girl, and the fourth an infant boy in a crib.

No neighbor could take all the children in, Diyala witnessed many massacres and exiles and poverty rates are staggering there. The people decided to rebuild that one room left, collectively provide food and water, and take turns in guarding the children until a "solution is found"...

Some time passed, and a elderly man arrives, claiming to be a distant relative of the family. No one could ascertain the truth of such a claim since the children themselves did not know him, but it seems he looked of "good faith " and the people gave him the benefit of the doubt.

More time passed and one day this distant neighbor decided to pay a visit, the children and the elderly man disappeared...no one knows where to.

More time elapsed, and the neighbor spotted the elderly man and the three boys. He inquired what happened to the 4 year old girl. I shall call her X, the anonymous face. Little Saint X.

The oldest boy, the 11 year old, smiled with happiness, replying - Uncle married her off. Not knowing what this meant.

It turns out that this "uncle", so called distant relative, sold little Saint X to a matron who runs an overseas brothel. She buys the little Iraqi Saints, and after a period of "training", sells them again as sex slaves to the highest overseas bidder.

I don't want to know what the "training" of a 4 year old Saint consists of...I don't even want to imagine it...

But at night, as I lay down, it creeps in my mind...in between my futile attempts at feigning sleep...through the cracks of a bedroom immersed in total obscurity...I imagine and fight the images with pictures of singing sweet lullabies to a sleeping girl, I fight it with pictures of reading a bed time story made of beautiful princesses safely tucked in shiny marbled castles...but the images stay, they persist, a torch burning with your Truth...


N.B: A reminder - official Iraqi puppet government figures confirms the number of little orphaned saints at 5 million since 2003 and the number of street little saints in Baghdad alone at 500'000. The little saints of the "new" Iraq.

May 27, 2011

Little Saints...1

They are little, and no icons nor statues have been carved or erected in their names...they will forever remain anonymous...but not to me.

I have not seen their faces, but I heard their stories...and every saint has a story.

No wait, I have seen their faces, I have...I have seen your filth and ugliness reflected in theirs...and is that not what saints are made of ? aren't they made of human filth and greed ?
Aren't saints the ones who took it all in, absorbed all of you and were eventually salvaged from the human garbage, because make no mistake about yourselves, you are garbage.

Aren't they the ones who witnessed the unthinkable as some training ground to redeem you later, you vermin of the human race ?!

Well I have many stories of saints in the making...and is Iraq not the land of Gods, Goddesses, Prophets and Saints ?

What you are about to read are true samples...samples of your "Democracy, Freedom and Liberty." How I have come to hate these words...they have become like small mirrors in which I see your lies written in blood, authorized and signed by anonymous corpses...living or dead, we have reached a point where the differentiation has become so blur...where it no longer matters, because death sentences are issued daily...and the living are dead.

They hang saints in Iraq, they lynch them at an early age, they penetrate their insides with words...and words become swords, daggers, knives...slashing, beheading, tiny anonymous faces with no names...the slaying of Saints...of little Saints...



She was found thrown away in one of the streets of Baghdad...her name is Rita, like Saint
Rita, the Saint who answers your prayers...

She was abandoned in the streets of Baghdad, with her name written on a cardboard, attached to her neck like a dog who was once owned. A three years old dog, puppy, girl, blind...Rita is blind. Totally blind. You bastards, call it in your politically correct jargon - visually impaired - because you are so fucking sensitive arent'you ?!

Well Rita is blind, and she is 3. She is not only blind, she has a severely deformed face, a cleft lip that goes up all the way to her nose...split in the middle, a mirror reflection of how you split us in the middle...in all ways. A small mirror of your own deformities, your soul deformities...

She was feeling her way around, blind, with a cardboard sign around her neck - my name is Rita.

The local police took her to a hospital, the doctors did not know what to do with Rita...the little Saint Rita...she was left in the corridors of a hospital, a hospital that looks and feels like a public toilet, because your whores stole the money, the money for the little Saints...

Little Saint Rita, walked the corridors of this public toilet of a hospital, bumping into broken chairs and beds with no sheets...hungry and waiting for someone to diagnose her condition...her condition of a blind street child, deformed by your toxicity and abandoned because no one can feed her no more in your new Iraq.

I can't go on...your filth is making me dizzy...its vapors are filling my nostrils...the little Saints are poking me...they want to play...let me take little Saint Rita's hand and go smell the flowers...

May 23, 2011

An Absent Future...

Been without a computer for quite some time, a loving hacker decided to silence me again, hoping maybe I will lose the ability to put in words...he/she sort of succeeded, because after such an absence, I feel am a like a beginner again...even though it has not been all that long...or has it?

I don't know, I have lost count of Time, the Future, I have no vision for. I live one day at a time and go where the winds take me...

It might come across as strange for those who plan ahead, the famous - 1 year, 2 years, 5 years plan...how can one not plan for the future they wonder ?
I did not plan for the occupation, so why should I plan for the future ?

This has become my modus operandi.

When people ask me about the future, I just shrug and say - I don't know, maybe, maybe not, perhaps, we shall see, Inshallah, who knows, no guarantees...I noticed these are idioms I use often, almost automatically...like they have become part of my being.

I am not sure, maybe I am afflicted by some endemic Fatalism, where I have been robbed of the possibility of conceptualizing the Future. Or maybe, the Future in my mind is tied to Iraq and hence I see nothing but bleakness...

Not long ago, I promised someone that I was going to do my best to remain optimistic. Seeing that am constitutionally incapable of that, we struck a deal. I am allowed to retain my pessimism but only 40% of it. It worked for a few days until I met some fellow Iraqis, who paid me an impromptu visit.

We took a short break to breathe - he said.

I felt guilty, for several reasons...but mainly because I was secretly devising a strategy of interrogation and I knew the last thing he wanted was to be grilled with questions...because grilled he was, some years ago. He still screams in the middle of the night...

I felt guilty like a voyeur who realizes how intrusive his acts are...yet I could not stop myself...it was part curiosity, part reconnecting...reconnecting with something I try very hard to blot out, yet a something that remains alive, demanding to be addressed and recognized...fully recognized.

So I cajoled my way into territories that no one cares to visit no more...I wheedled my way into an imposed silence, a silence within and without, with the most innocuous, almost banal - how are you and how are things ?

Things - things are objects, hence the necessary distance...things can mean just about anything...it's an open ended question - with things.

Trying to go beyond the Hamdullilah - Thank God for everything line, I probed more...discreetly so...leaving the personal as the last item on the list of things.

This reticence to speak, I have observed it many times, it's as if the message is - why are you opening our wounds ? And my reply, even non verbal, is - they are already wide open.

I see them in the distance that separates us, in the forced smiles, in the sigh that breaks the silent pause. I see them in the eyes. I see them in the pair of shoes that is too worn out and can't afford to be replaced. I see them in the murmurs between you about "how much things cost, and how long can we afford to stay". I see them when you look out of the window and I can tell that the scenery, a scenery free of bombs, silencer guns and beggars - makes you long yet fills you with guilt...

I can tell, because I have learned to read the silence like an open book...I can tell because I stood there like you did, torn inside, longing for peace and longing for hell...

You and I shove the split, the schizophrenia of this dual reality, and pretend to be normal...this dual reality where we have been cornered into a position of total silence because still ruled by fear...the fear of saying things as they are...the fear of punishment, the fear of rejection, the fear of judgement,the fear of labels...the fear instilled by the ideology of political correctness with severe consequences in your case, should you break it, should you say that you as a Sunni Arab, you have been stripped of all of your rights, that you can't and others like you can't even hope for an employment because of your sect, that if you convert to theirs, or pay allegiance to one of their parties and their ideology they will back you and open doors for you, that the city you grew up in is now divided into Karkh and Russafa and that Russafa is your ghetto, that the mosque that your ancestors built has been appropriated and is now - a Shiite only - place of worship, that you have even been excluded from praying in the place that you tended and swept with devotion...because you are not one of them...

You fear, or maybe you just want to live the rest of your days in a little peace...who can blame you ? You who used to love taking long strolls, are now a prisoner of four walls, afraid to venture...is it going to be sticky bombs, the silencer gun, or a kidnapping ? You wonder each morning...so you shut up and you stay put in your rocking chair, rocking yourself and your dreams, rocking your absent future into a lullaby...hoping for a tranquil snooze, uninterrupted by the past, your past...your recent past, where they still visit you, with their black uniforms and hooded faces and where you found yourself chained like a dog, mercilessly tortured in the name of a God, that is theirs...and theirs alone.

Your heart breaks when you hear of another kid in your neighborhood diagnosed with leukemia, another tumor growing in one of the women in your entourage, another child abducted and sold for sex...but you sit on that rocking chair, with your wounds and mouth badly bandaged and you rock yourself some more, hoping to find cracks in a clement harmless present...who can blame you ?

Then Ali mentions Mosul and Basra. Ali is your trusted friend from Najaf...he too dares not say the truth...he dares not say what he sees daily...he gives me his words, offers them on a tray like old pieces of rotten bread...as if to partake in some secret communion of a final revelation, of a final communion...

He says - some of us do not approve of what happened and what is taking place...but we can do nothing...

I give him the benefit of the doubt and don't stop at the "but", I let him continue his real lamentation, his real self flagellation...I let him continue because I want to reach the bitter end...the bitter end of it all, where no Future is present.

He continues - the Persians they hate us, some of us in Najaf, refuse to sell them goods...they treat us like slaves...

- And your Sistani and your Hawza ?

- They are all paid...They tarnished our sect and what we stand for.

I did not want to dig deeper into what they stand for...You are his friend, and you experienced what they stood for, in that dungeon.

- So what about Mosul ?

- They, the Kurds. have cleansed Mosul of Christians. Christian women are forced to veil.

- And what about Basra ?

- It's an Iranian stronghold. The children are dying of leukemia, so many of them, so many...Depleted Uranium

- What about Baghdad's hospitals ?

- They are sectarian...too many troubles. You might not make it out alive.

- And the reconstruction money ?


Laughter filled the room...

Reconstruction money was the joke of the day...

- Corruption, severe corruption. They hoard the medicine and sell it on the black market. One tablet of Paracetemol costs 1$


- Do you remember when we received the memo from the Ministry of Health urging us not to use the pink tablets of Paracetemol made in Iran ?

- Yeah I remember, they were tablets that you throw into the car's gas tank and the car explodes. I was surprised the Ministry of Health actually sent this memo, since they are they are their guys after all.

- Maybe they felt a little guilty ?

- Yeah maybe...


The ball rolled by itself...I let it. I was no longer in the picture with my curious voyeurism...

- Even the gas, the petrol for car, we are importing from Iran. We queue for hours.

- No now its from Turkey

- Turkey...ah yes, they are competing with the Iranians for the Iraqi market. Their goods are flooding the markets now, even in "Kurdistan".

Did you need a visa to go there, I ask.

- Akeed, for sure. We need a visa and we need to mention the exact purpose of our visit and the exact numbers of days we are to stay there...but you know the Israelis, the Jews, they have helped the Kurds so much...it's like a different continent.

You need a visa to visit your own country ?

- Yes - more laughter followed by a silence, by the dawn of Reality.

A laughter made of smoke and fog. A silence made of corpses.


Tidbits of the Iraqi Reality...squeezing itself into conversations, into cajoled forced conversations, where the victim's only wish is to breathe...for a little.

But no, imperious as it is, it imposes itself, dressed in the black robes of Kings and Queens...there is no escape...it bulldozes through your silence, your siesta, your amnesia...
it invades you like the voyeur that I am, reminding you of an absent Future...

May 5, 2011

Bullets and Tumors...

If I am to choose between dying from a bullet or a tumor, I'd choose the former...

I have seen the agony of those with tumors...I stood by their side, and saw them exhale their last breath...I saw the bald heads of chemotherapy, the bloated faces with cortisone, the final cry of mercy...

This sight is no joke...

Later on, I stood there, and prayed when their finally rested bodies showed up in coffins...

I will never forget the agony, nor the cries of pain...the coffin is relief, a sign that a clement God does really exist. And how many a times I prayed for Death, for Deliverance...

Is that what we've been reduced to - praying for the angel of Death to deliver us ?

Deliver us from your bullets or your tumors ?

Because I tell you, every single person I come across that arrives from Iraq will tell me the same...they tell me if you are not killed with a bullet, you will be killed with a tumor.

Iraq has become a disaster area, a health hazard...the levels of toxicity and pollution are so high, none are allowed to measure.

A relative arrived from Basra, I wanted to ask...she beat me to it and said "Don't"

I offered her lunch, tea, and tried again...

She finally spilled it - she said: the number of handicapped I have come across I have never ever witnessed in my life before...Layla, stop, don't ask me about the cancer cases. She is a medical doctor by the way...and they are known to have thick, tough skins...but even for her it was too much to witness in a 10 days visit.

Whenever I hear of someone coming over, they are coming over for treatment. The new laws stipulate you can get a visa if you are to buy a car, or seek treatment that is not available in your home country. Kid you not.

So those who land here, are either pretending to buy a car, or giving proof for curing tumors...

And there are hundreds of cases, that pretend to buy a car or are eager to cure a tumor...

Young and old...there is no age barrier...females and males...soft tissues.

It's all very discreet and no one talks about it...you just hear so and so has ovarian, uterine breast, lymphatic, blood, prostate cancer...you nod your head and offer another prayer...

And you know that the cases are multiplying...and you pray some more...like a beggar waiting for someone to throw crumbs his way...

The new Iraq is the Democracy of toxicity and contamination...it is the new democracy where you wish for a quick easy bullet instead of a long agonizing tumor.