A Symphony of Silent Voices .

Where to begin, by which story, by whose name ?
Maybe it is best to start with the apparently simplest, less innocuous one and work my way into a crescendo...like a musical piece that starts with one single note to end in a symphony.
My symphony however, is composed of a human solfeggio, that gets higher and higher as it unfolds...

The first note is the scream of a toothache.
Alia who lives in a "predominantly sunni"(oh that dreaded word) neighborhood has a toothache.
No dentist in sight. An abscess forms, a fever ensues, an intolerable pain...
Braving mortar shells, American and militia checkpoints, she finally makes it to a dental clinic or what appears to be the remnants of a clinic. No question of a filling. Fillings take time and time is a precious commodity. Every minute, every second counts...staying alive counts.
Besides, fillings are too expensive and Alia's husband has been without work for over a year now.
"We shall extract it " says the equally fearful doctor.
No anaesthesia, no sterile instruments , where can anyone find some antiseptic those days? the tooth is forcefully and quickly pulled out.
Alia is sent home with a mouth stuffed with tissues. The pain grows in intensity so do the screams. The mortar shells are raining heavily on Al Ameriya, no one will risk it this time, not even Alia. The fever rises, the mouth is swollen, blisters erupt inside out and all over, the infection spreads...
Alia can no longer speak now. Her jaw is locked in a tetanus fit.
No electricity, no water and no food left. She is immobilized by the cold, the darkness, an empty stomach and the pain. Alia just clenches her fists as tightly as her locked jaw and screams away into the night and into her days ...tetanized in the New Iraq.

Auntie Sameera is by nature a jovial woman despite being a widow at an early age and having to look after two disabled children alone. Auntie lives in a "mixed neighborhood" Karrada, daily exposed to explosions, mortar shells and gun fire.
I call Auntie Sameera, she says " I can't take it anymore...I don't even have a box of aspirin at home and provisions are running low, what are we going to eat ?"
Randa, the handicapped cousin, used to manage uttering complete sentences and even a good belly laugh. I asked to speak to Randa.
Randa just hurled shouts at me , she shouted and shouted like a wounded animal...Randa can no longer talk. She just shouts day and night and when calmed down, the only comprehensible word she can remember is "am shaking, please am shaking..." then she shouts some more...

Mayssaloon, my very close relative, a beautiful young woman whose name means gaiety, got married three years ago to a nice shi'a boy. They were happy until...
Mayssaloon gave birth 3 days ago at home in Al Azamiyah ( a predominantly sunni neighborhood - here we go again...)
When she told us the good news about her pregnancy, our faces dropped.
My first reaction was " How could you ?" but I bit my tongue and said nothing.
Then I realized how "nazi" it was of me to even think that way. She is newly wed and she wants a family. For her life has to go on and she had hopes ...until... until little Hassan was born.
Like many women in Iraq and in Baghdad in particular, any pregnancy has to end in a forced cesarian in a hospital (if you can call it a hospital that is - only God knows the rate of septicemia after surgeries today in Baghdad) or deal with it alone at home.
Al Azamiyah has been under very heavy shelling for the past four days, shelling from the iranian backed militias in their rabid campaign of ethnic cleansing.
Again , no water, no electricity, no food. Mayssaloon gave birth at home, she was hemorrhaging..no midwife available. Someone finally brought in a nurse. She said take her to the hospital now.
Again, her father braved the mortar deadly shells and took her to the nearest hospital.
Impossible, they said . No beds available, too many injured already...go home.
Mayssaloon and little Hassan made it home , but Hassan was too pale and hardly breathing and Mayssaloon was heavily bleeding. They also noticed a strange looking growth on his tiny body.
Grandpa took him to a doctor, who ran some blood tests, but by then it was too late...Hassan eclipsed like a frail small flame...Hassan is gone for ever...and Mayssaloon is still bleeding...
He uttered a tiny cry and went.
Mayssaloon sits in bed all day and all night in the cold and in the darkness , her silence is deafening and when she speaks , she just cries loudly, sighs and goes back to mute .
And so it goes ...for the silent voices in Iraq.

Postscript : As I was writing this, I remembered a letter received from a western friend of mine. She just go pregnant and was looking foward to feel her birth pangs , an affirmation of her feminity. She checked herself in into a very special clinic so she can give birth in a warm cosy water pool, the natural way,hence diminishing the traumas of childbirth to her and her child.
I can't but manage an ironic smile now.
Where is Condi Rice, the midwife of the New Middle East? We just had Death Birth pangs here...in a pool of warm blood.

Painting: Iraqi Artist Jaber Alwan.


Anonymous said…
Sheer beauty as always Layla
Anonymous said…
You give the disregarded their voices back.
Anonymous said…
Heart wrenching. I propose mandatory vasectomy for all Arab males. That way we will be rid of Arabs, and these terrible tales at the same time.
Tate said…
How can someone think like that Iranian? You are doing Iran an injustice by posting like that. Imagine if I posted with the name USA and said something like that. As much as I hate my culture and 99% of my politicians, such ideas only dwell in the lowest parts of a sewer. Keep your fascist insults for another site, please. Idiot.
Anonymous said…
good stuff layla!!
Layla Anwar said…
anonymous 1, 2 and jr - Thank you.
Layla Anwar said…
What iranian said does not surprise me- it reflects Iranian racism and chauvinism . Google Arab ahwazi's or or just type iranian racism and you will find your answers there.
Their "aryan" mentality is very close to both zionism and nazism. However,they parade as muslims (surely not all of them though.)
Which in my eyes makes the worse than a nazi or a zionist.Because with these two latter ones , one knows where one stands, but with neighbors that are so fickle, the picture gets blurred . Well it has been for the anti war anti imperialist left at least. It is not blurr to me though.
Anonymous said…
Thought you might like this article Layla:
Anonymous said…
layla anwar - ure welcome........plz can we have less of this arab vs iranian bickering.....its getting boring

Layla Anwar said…
Anonymous above, thanks for the link, I like Philip Rostroch's articles.
Layla Anwar said…
jr, what you call bickering is in fact Iran's dirty hand in Iraq and its responsibility in collaborating with the U.S in the ethnic cleansing of Baghdad. Stay tuned.
Tate said…
jr wants to be entertained... go to Disney World jr... turn on the TV... Go watch a Bruce Willis movie.
Anonymous said…
Just too painful to read, Layla. One feels the constant 'screaming' inside as well. Yes, the Midwife of the Middle East seems to think she has the right answers - although she has no clue about real birth pangs. Guess that's a privilege God decided to leave her out of.k
Anonymous said…
Iranian said...
Heart wrenching. I propose mandatory vasectomy for all Arab males. That way we will be rid of Arabs, and these terrible tales at the same time.

...don't worry, Eye-Ranian, you will soon have many terrible tales of your own to tell.

Remember, American ends with "I can", not "I ran"

Stay tuned, as Layla says.
Anonymous said…
arkbuiler u moron plz can u keep your silly opinions to yourself in future

bon app├ętit
Tate said…
Hey Osama, is that some of that good old American pride you have there good buddy? Feeling pretty high and mighty are you?
Anonymous said…
Another article I thought you might like:
Anonymous said…
directinfo.............ever heard of irony???????
Iraqi Mojo said…
Hi Layla, thank you so so much for your thoughts and facts regarding the massacres in Iraq.
You are an absolute gem, one that needs to be treasured for eternity.
Btw do you mind if i link to your posts and website?
Anonymous said…
directinfo says
Hey Osama, is that some of that good old American pride you have there good buddy? Feeling pretty high and mighty are you?

....no, it was meant as sarcasm. I have nothing but utter contempt for what the americans have done and are planning to do in the Middle East. I just don't think that "Iranian" needs to be so cocky, especially when his country is in the crosshairs.
Anonymous said…
Your writings are pure art, and often right on spot- but i fail to see why the obvious hostility towards Iranians.
Evidently Iranians aren't that fond of Arabs either, but can't we just let bygones be bygones and focus on building a common bright future?

And never mind Iranian, i think you know he doesn't represent the rest of the Iranian population (eventhough he pisked his username to make us believe otherwise)
Anonymous said…
well said that lady
Layla Anwar said…
I appreciate your comments however I must conclude from them that you are either misinformed or you simply don't know the active iranian role TODAY in Iraq. Please read my last post " The not so hidden Imam" and maybe that will clarify things for you. I would personally love to let sleeping dogs lie , but when an active ethnic cleansing is taking place right now , I am afraid I can't stop hearing the barking rabid dogs.
Layla Anwar said…
osama bin laughing, you really make me laugh...lol
Layla Anwar said…
k, maybe if the death midwife had kids of her own, that would have changed her into a better person?
I guess having progeny might not be a guarantee after all.
People like Cuntie Rice should be forbidden to breed. One of her is enough. More than
Anonymous said…
id just like to say i truly appreciate your journalism and perspective and hope you will stay safe and out live these historically ignorant events. I advise you to point out that Americas most beloved president "honest Abraham Lincoln" ordered the death of 1,000,000 americans to preserve America. I think it is completly logical and fair to compare him to your countries leader Saddam Hussein. If you guys can get a big enough army together and come free us from our dictator you really would be greeted as liberators as oppose to the photo op statue deconstruction starring busloads of kurdish guest stars.

but if you invade texas I assure you there would be a combustion of texan "insurgants" that need an excuse to use the weapons they love more then their dicks.

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