Caged & Lonely...

This sickness has forced me to take up a horizontal position for many hours at a time.

I’ve become familiar with every inch of this bed. I’ve studied its corners, counted its width, noticed the dust on its sideboards, the in-house spider “Ramdam” busy weaving its web and catching a small mosquito every now and then...

Curiously, I also spotted a pigeon on the window sill. Strange.
I do see every once and a while a little sparrow picking Ramdam’s fleas, but never a pigeon. This one looked quite desperate.
And it just stood still, there, peeking through that window.

What is your message? I wondered...

I ignored it. I have enough of the flu myself and didn’t want to worry about bird flu as well.

I took my horizontal position again and I must admit, I kind of like it.
Just letting my head fall on a heap of pillows, a body too feeble to do anything, constrained and caged by some fever that comes and goes like some ocean wave... Total inaction.

The fever abates and a few seconds of bliss transport me like some gentle, soft cushiony feeling... A motionless body, a mind too tired to think, and a horizontal position that invites all sorts of guests, waiting at its doorstep, and they’ve been waiting for a while now...

One of these guests, is the memory of my paternal grandmother. I don’t understand why she popped in to say hello. I guess it must have been that song on the radio.

There is a local station that I quite like, it plays oldies. I like oldies.
And Grandma’s image surfaced whilst Elvis was singing “Are you lonesome tonight.”

I was always quite surprised by the fact that Grandma could speak, read and write English even though she never studied it. I remember once asking her,

“Beebee, how did you learn all of this?” Her reply “I love Elvis and I love listening to his songs.”
She had two favorites. “Love me tender" and “Are you lonesome tonight."

Actually, she is the one who got me my first vinyl record of Elvis.
I suppose she picked up English from listening to Elvis. And here was Elvis singing one of her favorite songs.

I remember when Grandpa passed away very suddenly and at a fairly young age, I would play that song for her, hoping to ease her pain. Quite silly of me really. I did not fully understand the feelings of loss, then.

She would go silent and drift away into that lonely place and listen to it...and say “play it again for me.”

Loneliness is not an easy be in.

In my horizontal position, I also thought of loneliness.

People like to give it different definitions or masks.
They say “I'm alone but not lonely” or “I enjoy solitude but not loneliness” or “better to be alone than badly accompanied”...So many ways to fend it off.

Some lose themselves into things and people in order to avoid it or should I say to fill it up...

I think people in the West are quite lonely...lonesome.

I remember seeing men and women walking their dogs - walking them, as if pushing a child’s pram...They’d talk to the dog, feed it, kiss it, hug it, caress it and protect it like a child...They cared greatly about this companion.

Nothing wrong with that. A pet is good company and ideal to fill that lonely spot...

In the Arab world, loneliness is not so much of a societal disease as it is in the West. There is always someone who will ask after you. A neighbor, a relative, a friend...

You hardly ever hear of someone dying, in secret solitude, in their apartment only to be found when the odor from the decomposing corpse fills the building.

This does not happen here in this part of the world. Neglect and abandonment have not cut through as deep...loneliness is not the norm...except in Iraq.

Iraq the model of American/Western democracy.

In Iraq, you smell putrefied, decomposing bodies daily, it has become part of the National “flavor.” So have abandonment and neglect – our new national emblems.
And loneliness a by-product of our Liberation "à l’0ccidentale."

You have managed to export not only, your “freedom” with its death, exile and misery. Not only your puritanical, perverted sexual repressions finding release- Abu Ghraib style. Not only your men and weapons that guarantee instant rapture. Not only your culture that consists of nothing but junk. But you have also managed to export your soul sickness over here...Loneliness.

“Dozens of Baghdadis flock to the centre of the Iraqi capital on Friday mornings, ignoring the threat to their lives, with a sole aim -- to ease their loneliness in the company of a bird.

Their destination is not a cinema, theatre or concert hall -- a rarity in the Iraqi capital -- but central Baghdad's Al-Ghazl bird market

Fuad is one of them. "I do not go out of my home. Because of the dangers, I prefer to stay at home rather than seek work. So I decided to buy a parrot who can entertain me," says Fuad, an unemployed graduate.

Mohammed Arshad a student says "I already have two in my house...I am now looking for another parrot to teach as I taught the other two."

The above are excerpts from an article titled “Lonely in Baghdad? Chat up a bird." (full article here)

Ironic don’t you think ?

Here is a people unable to venture out, unable to enjoy the fruits of “their liberation," unable to taste the “culture of democracy," unable to have a normal life like any other people. So they go and risk their lives, and head to a pet market. Braving it all, to buy a bird to entertain them and ease their loneliness.

A caged people seeking a caged bird to give them the illusion of Freedom.

How terribly sad. How terribly criminal.

Your people are supposedly free yet so lonely-seeking the company of pets.

And ours were sociable but are now forced to seek the company of pets because of a solitude you imposed upon them - so they can be “free“ like yourselves...

And you tell me that societal diseases are not exportable ?

Maybe this was the message after all. The message from that free bird who stood there peeking through my window.

Maybe it wanted to remind me and you of yet another, simple, Truth.

P.S: Incidentally, one of the parrot pets was taught to shout out "Down with Bush." Maybe the loneliness will ease after all.

Painting: Iraqi female artist, Nadia Mohammed Yass.


Anonymous said…
Dearest Layla,
I read the title and cried.Am soooo sorry.I want to help.
I hope it makes you feel better to know that, as usual, this post is not only excellent but also very clever.Bismi'Allah,Mash'Allah.
God bless you.
Anonymous said…
Dear Layla,

I just wanted to take a moment to say I am sorry for the offense comments I have made about Iraqies and their plight. I am ashamed of them and am sorry I ever said them. Please feel free to slam my apology.
Anonymous said…
Togetherness > Unity > Strength > Liberation

"Monad-ification" > Division > Weakness > Servitude

It's all part of the Imperial strategy.
Anonymous said…
My sister had a sulfer-crested cockatiel and my mother delighted in it's antics. It would strut up and down the top of it's cage (released whenever anyone could watch it...caged because when bored, it would tear up anything it could reach). An excellent pet for the housebound.
And what irony, because parrots live in huge flocks in the wild, and if alone too long will go insane, plucking their own feathers.
Anonymous said…
A scene from yesterday`s Stockholm; a little child wrapped in a camoflauge colorued blanket, but with the colours inverted - and under the handle of the child trolly a bag was hanging, also camofluge coloured, this time not inverted though -
And everywhere the signs of fashion, the fashion of war - schoolkids have jackets, trousers, shirts in these colours -
For once a truth.
For once... symbolism crying bitterly over itself.
Anonymous said…
JR, remember that one day you'll die...
Anonymous said…
Let's hope that Petraeus & Co. don't reply to this anti-loneliness pet birds strategy with a surge of (Persian) cats !
Layla Anwar said…
Dear S,

Thank you. God bless you too.
Layla Anwar said…

That is noble of you. Thanks.
Layla Anwar said…
Bird Lover,

Touché !
Anonymous said…
I wish I were transformed into a free bird like the one you met, to soar high above all this sound and fury, higher up to that immense azure peacefulness from where one can look down and smile...

Either that or into a palm tree seed, deep rooted in Iraqi land, that can no longer move nor be moved from it, fruitful at last, forgetful and forgotten in its motherly embrace...

These are not times for humans.
Layla Anwar said…
cage mate,

Am chirping...
Anonymous said…
Free birds are often used in poetry as a metaphor for the soul after death has "freed" it from its corporeal "cage".

Maybe that pigeon was the soul of your grandmother who happened to be fluttering around there and was attracted by the sound of her favorite song coming from behind your closed window.

Or maybe it was the soul of someone else who had heard about your tireless dedication to the Cause and wanted to say thank you but was struck dumb at the sight of your wild feverish full-blown Sumerian beauty, who knows ?

Next (dream) time, let it in..."chirping" one ;-)
Anonymous said…
My parrot used to say, 'What a jerk!', nowadays, she is saying 'What a Bush!' I can understand her, it hasn't been easy being Ottoman Empire's parrot! Now, I have talked to her, and she understands, the Crusades, Promised Lands, and all,how this cloaned family of Bushes and Bilderbergers are feeling caged, and she said, It's Now or Never, nono she said, Now That We Found Love, What Are We Gonna Do With It?!
Anonymous said…
you are deliberately preventing my client from exercising his right to bullshit on your new blog !
Anonymous said…
Long live JR !
Anonymous said…
Down with JR !
Anonymous said…
Who cares about JR ?
Anonymous said…
may the day come when we see the dog bush in a cage along with the arab dogs who sold their people for a miserable profit.

as one palestinian mother said to her zionist enemies, "may you one day hear the sound of you babies cry so you know how it feels"
Layla Anwar said…
anonymous above,

seems you have forgotten the iranian dogs as well...No absolving here.
Layla Anwar said…
what is this kangaroo court?
Layla Anwar said…
nur aris,

I think I like your parrot. She sounds politically
Layla Anwar said…
cage mate,

I am going to start believing it and think am Ishtar herself...
But the bad news -- you know what happens to birds and statues...
Anonymous said…
Hi Layla,

some links,

Faulty Intelligence Source "Curve Ball" Revealed:

Fifa reject Palestinian appeal:

Abizaid (Allah yel3ano) sees 25-50 years of Middle East conflict:

Free Iraq:
Anonymous said…
oh and this too:

‘Ethnically cleansed neighborhoods’ lead to less violence:
Layla Anwar said…
lucid arab,

thanks, I have read them.
Read the one by Hisham Bustani.
Surmounting sectarianism in the M.E

It's probably one of the most lucid analysis I have read so far coming from an Arab.

I may not agree with everything it says but the overall picture and exposé is very accurate and well thought out.
dgalanis said…
thanks for making me cry ... again ... layla
Narendra shenoy said…
That painting by Nadia Mohammed Yass is really good, as are several others in your blog.
Layla Anwar said…
Hi Narendra,

Thanks -- I absolutely love Iraqi art. I think it is the BEST in the Middle East and I would even say in the World.
Layla Anwar said…
new manifesto,

I must start charging you :-)
dgalanis said…
yes ... for tears clear our vision ;)
Anonymous said…
today I was sharing your views with a friend of mine at the local masjid. and he got all defensive in defending america. he was also wearing an american flag on his t-shirt. anytime i bring up american atrocities he defends them and says "we kill more muslims than america does"

so sad, i don't recall that any foreign countries arm and finance opposition groups in this former british, former native-american colony, i don't see ahmed nejad smuggling rockets to them or planning the overthrow of the dog bush.

also, i never recall even saddam saying anything about values, or morals or freedom, especially about exporting them!
Anonymous said…
i would like to send healing, strengthening, positive HEALING vibrations to our young lady Layla.

get healthy soon and we wait for your reprorts.
Anonymous said…
Layla, ou la Nouvelle Ishtar ;-)

I have no idea what happens to birds and statues. Please elaborate...

Metaphors apart, I sincerely believe that what you would badly need (and deserve...) at this moment of your life is to adore and be adored by a man of "His" stuff, with the tender heart of a mother lioness and the strength of an ancient Assyrian warrior - but shaved, so as not to "prickle" you ! ;-) - who would know how to fondle your battered soul to tears of joy and healing...

I wish you (and "Her"...) to find (again) such a "rare bird".
Anonymous said…
JR, in case you forgot it, I'm here to remind you that one day you'll die.

Tick-tock, tick-tock...
Alan the Red said…
Hey Layla, are you dead yet? If not, get a keyboard extension and write from your bed. Stop the excuses; there's a war on and Amerikkka has to go down.

How the hell can anybody defend Amerikkka, Abu Jihad? They just enjoy killing people. Haven't you ever watched any Amerikkkan movies? They're a very sick society. They like the smell of napalm burning in the morning, which is why they want Iraqi oil. It's to feed their addiction.

Hey, get well soon Layla.
Alan the Red said…
Hey Abu Jihad, I see you actually live in Amerikkka. Have you been to Philadelphia? That Liberty Bell in its bomb-proof container sure is something, isn't it?

Now if we did that with Big Ben, I would be headed the hell out of this country, because I would know the bats were really in the belfry, but those Yankees think it is normal. You want to start walking around Amerikkka with your eyes wide open. Wild horses could not drag me back to Amerikkka.
Anonymous said…
layla i'd like u 2 be my mom :-)
Alan the Red said…
Actually, perhaps I need to elaborate some more, because Yankees never "get it".

Now suppose Big Ben got nuked, who would give a shit about it? There would be tens of millions of dead people, and the survivors would hardly be worried about being late for work.

But if the Liberty Bell gets nuked, it will still be standing there in the middle of a pile of thermo-nuclear debris. Notice how they didn't spend the money on a bomb-shelter for the people?

Amerikkka cares more about its Liberty Bell than it does for its people.
Anonymous said…
Iraq will rise from the ashes and take it's rightful place on the world stage of power once again, just wait and see. The Americans nor any one else are a match for the Iraqi fighting spirit! No country, no people, no religion will stop the greatest country on earth...IRAQ. allahu akbar!!!!
Layla Anwar said…
Cage mate

Woud not mind l'Oiseau rare.
As long as he doesn't land and shit on my
You know, birds and statues ;-)
Thanks for the wishes, though.
Do you have an old Sumerian oracle or some magic recipe?
Layla Anwar said…

Beautifully said. Amen to that.
Allahu Akbar indeed.
Layla Anwar said…
Lord Dabbass,

Why is it that you English are so bloody mean?
Are you sure you're not the one who drove your wife to suicide?
And you dare critique the Americans!
Same anglo saxon poop
Layla Anwar said…
lisa has had a change of heart under the influence of her drug of choice and has urged all of us Iraqis to kiss her "big fat ass" as per her comment on the post
"family tree..."
I thought she was a noble creature, alas no such thing exists in the land of big fat asses...
Am sure Iraqis and other supporters would be delighted to give big fat assed lisa a piece of their mind.
Layla Anwar said…
For those who are impatient with the slowness of my "reports", you can always amuse yourselves by reading my second blog...
Just click under " view my complete profile" and scroll down and you will find the second one. Click on it and voilà.

However, I will not accept any comments.
Yep that's the way it is.
I have been listening and reading other people's comments.
And now has come the time for me to speak --even if it means a monologue.
And that's the way it is ;-)
Layla Anwar said…
abu jihad,

Salam first.
You say that Saddam never spoke of Freedom and...
Seems you have conveniently forgotten his unconditional support to the Palestinian people and the PLO.
Pity, some have become amnesic.
Anonymous said…
Salam Layla

Hope you're feeling better.

Best wishes,

Alan the Red said…
Tell me something whiny Layla, have you got any railways in Iraq? How come you have railways Layla? Was it because an Englishman named Trevithic invented the high pressure steam engine?

Oh yes, and that electricity you use to run your computer; is it generated by steam turbine?

Oh yes, and when was the decision taken to supply Baghdad with water, electricity etc?

Was it perhaps the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916?

Oh, but we British are so mean and horrible aren't we?

Yaknow, I reckon that with a world so full of ingrates like you, I don't give a shit if the Yanks destroy everything, because guess what? We, the tribe of Brigid, will simply start to rebuild things again, while all those whining about us, including those Yankee Christians, will be lying in the dirt, crying and snivelling for their god to save them.
YoUnicorn said…
My Dearest Layla

Please take good care of yourself.
Reading you, is always food for thought and nurtures my soul. Thank you !

Oh I found now the option of follow ups... gee.. I am a slow cyber LOL
Ah I replied to lisa, before
reading here. Lisa, what a fat evil daughter of demoncracy

Bless you Layla !!!
Lots of love !!
YoUnicorn said…
Yes Layla
Many have become amnesic !!!!
Alan the Red said…
Hey Layla, I'm bad and I'm mean but guess what? I can come up with an appropriate song for your post.

Of course, he had to come to mean old England at the time, to make it big, cos Yankees don't like black people.

Get well soon.
Alan the Red said…
Hey Layla, of course, you might need this song instead:
Anonymous said…
You didn't really sound like the "belle statue" type...would the grief be slowly "marbling" you into one ? :-(

Besides, why the hell put the cart before the horse and renounce good things today just because they "might" go bad tomorrow ??!!

Am not being saccharine romantic at all here; it's about SURVIVAL.

Since it seems that you'll "have to" stay here below for some time yet, at least get yourself 1 reason for enjoying this being alive vs. the other 1,000,000+++ the occupation has given and is still giving you for hating it.

Let it be someone who cares about Iraq as much as you do, a companion in sufferings and struggle, but with the extra ability to keep "Thanatos" at distance, if you see what I mean... ;-)

The alternative is GOING NUTS - as simple as that - and it won't just magically go after the liberation...

My best wishes.
Anonymous said…


YoUnicorn said…
Talking about amnesics ?
the fake lord.. whatever
So all the colonies and MILLIONS murdered .. dont matter ?
Read George Galloway and stop
taking drugs.

Layla Anwar said…

Salam and thanks for asking.
I went to my "discount" doctor, and got some powerful med.
I am waiting for the effects.
Layla Anwar said…
Dear Yolla,

I was sooooo worried about you.
Hope you are ok.
Glad to see you online.
You crack me up.
Soon inshallah, Arak and Hummus...
Liberation style
Lots of love
Layla Anwar said…
cage mate,

Am not renouncing, am waiting for "viable offers..."

Marble am not, wish I were...

Still, birds find a way of shitting on the statue...

But of course, I give you the benefit of the doubt and anticipate in your making a difference.

And by the way, Iraqis don't simply go nuts, they write poetry instead.
YoUnicorn said…
My Dear Layla

I am ok...Thank you !
I am right here.
I should have sent you an email.
I apologize, I am ok, safe.
Oh yes !!
inshallah Liberation style
with arak and hummus.
Soon dear, I pray for it each day
and many times a day.

Bless you
be safe and please take care !
Much love
Anonymous said…
But you still love that grand AMERICAN flag don't you lord ASSHOLE!!!
Anonymous said…
Anonymous said...
Iraq will rise from the ashes and take it's rightful place on the world stage of power once again, just wait and see. The Americans nor any one else are a match for the Iraqi fighting spirit! No country, no people, no religion will stop the greatest country on earth...IRAQ. allahu akbar!!!!

Nice words, but where is the evidence?
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