The thought itself, even though a stark reality, a daily lived one, is somehow always pushed at the back of my mind...I don't want to acknowledge it, I don't want to face it, I don't want to think about it...I stuff it in some corner and wish it will disappear by itself...but it doesn't. It will simply not go away.
Lately I've been overwhelmed with that feeling of Exile. Not quite the right word. The right word is Homesick - Home Sick. Sick for Home.
When this happens, my first reaction is to distract myself, like play hide and seek with it, diminish it, brush it off, pretend it's not there...and the more I do that, the stronger it knocks on my door, and the more I do that, the stronger it penetrates my house, like a burst dam of water that starts flooding the place...a deluge of feelings, of emotions that nothing can stop or sweep away...
When this happens, I know that I can no longer play hide and seek with it, I know that the water level has reached a point where it needs to be acknowledged, recognized and validated...it needs to be given an identity, a name, and oddly enough a place of belonging. It's like this homesickness is asking me to belong to something...to a place. I suppose you'd call that Attachment.
So faced with this deluge, I decided to swim in the waters instead of just watching the waves grow on an illusory shore of safety...for I know from experience, roaring waters when not faced will always grow into a tsunami...that is the nature of feelings, of emotions...they have this water quality to them.
I realized all the little tricks I play with myself, with it - the homesickness - keeping it at bay...the things I avoid doing, or keep at a strict minimum. For instance, I avoid looking at pictures of Baghdad, videos of Baghdad. I who absolutely loves cooking, avoid cooking Iraqi food unless there is a great urge to do so, I try other foods, as exotic, but foods that take me to farther away places, places away from my homesickness. I avoid listening to Iraqi songs, unless my hand unconsciously picks a CD, or clicks on a youtube video. I avoid discussing "it" with friends, with family, with strangers...if the subject is broached, I change it, I pretend I did not hear. I avoid meeting with other Iraqis. I avoid going to Iraqi grocers, restaurants, shops...but above all, I try hard to banish pictures, memories, sentences, faces, places from my mind.
This strategy of mine has obviously not worked very well, since am here writing about "it".
The truth of the matter that I refuse to face is that I can't go back home, I can't return.
Had I kept my mouth shut since 2003, I would have stood a chance, but not now, not anymore. I know that the minute I'll land in Baghdad, I will disappear in some "democracy" dungeon, like many others have...I will not only endanger my life but also that of my family. This is a great responsibility. People don't understand that. People are stupid, people are so stupid...people are beyond stupid. They just sit and read my blog and pontificate, they understand nothing because they do not wish to understand the reality of this occupation. They refuse to see. They simply refuse to see the truth that I and a few others put our lives on the line for...Bad faith. Arrogance. Stubbornness. Myopia. They just sit and get titillated with the writings...either loving or hating it...but it stops there...there is no after reflection, there is no deductive thinking...there is no imagination, there is no Reality for them. People are indeed stupid.
Maybe this is one of the reasons I have not blogged as much about Iraq...maybe because deep inside of myself I find it to be a "cause perdue", a lost cause and am left with the skeletons, my memories and this homesickness that gnaws at me in silence, when everyone else goes to sleep.
Seeing that this is the case, that this is the reality of the matter, I stuff "it", I shove "it", I hide "it", I cover "it" up...how can I afford thinking, feeling "it"...how can I afford facing the prospects that I might never go back ?! Just the idea in itself kills me...
Let's face it, am not 16, 18, 24, or even 30...am in my midlife...whatever this may mean. The question that poses itself is when then ?! Of course my elders have it tougher, because they know time is really running out...so the denial gets thicker, under walls of silence, I understand that...I really do...the pain would be too great to bear. Denial is sometimes a good thing.
So what do we do with our longings, yearnings...what do we do with the thought that we will never be able to return ? Where do we hide these, what can we cover them up with and for how long ?
I get feelings of envy and rage, whenever I hear of a foreigner going to Baghdad...I say to myself, this piece of shit can go to my country and here I am, I can't even set foot in my own land. And each time, I die a little more inside...
Last time an acquaintance went there, he asked me if I wanted anything - I said yes, bring me back a little earth, some mud from the river bank, in a plastic bag...I want to smell it again.
I never saw that handful of land, never smelled it...it got lost, among so many other things...
So has my home, so has my homesickness...
This is an old Iraqi song my grandma used to hum often...
Singer : Iraqi Bashar Al Azzawi
Video produced and uploaded by: FadiShabella.