Wednesday, January 23, 2008

My Nose Memories

When my dad brings the bags from above our huge four door closet I know that there will be some change in our clothes. I will be surprised to see the forgotten summer clothes if we were at the end of winter. But I like more to see the forgotten winter clothes at the end of summer cause with the opening of bags containing winter clothes I will smell a more intense camphor aroma that I like and see its magnifisant source, those tiny naphthalene white balls which I resumbled to snow balls, snow white, and a type of candy at the same time having an intense urge to take one by the tips of my thumb and index fingers and put it in my mouth.

While my hands start pointing to the balls my father says:
- Don't touch them. Don't. Let me finnish my work Sami. Go to play with.......
- With? ...with whom?
- Sami go play with....with....
- With with?
- Go my love...just go..
- Why dady. I want them. You give me a ball, I will go. Deal?...humm? ok?
- Sami go...
- Do you need these balls?
- ......
- Will you through them away?
- Yes.
- Where?
- ....
- In the trash bin.
- Yes.
- Which one?
- .....
- That big blue one?

My father stood up, called my mom, she took me to the kitchen.
During the following days I searched all the trash bins frequently during the days in vain. Till before few days when I was asleep in my bed in the hospital when I heard a sound of something rolling on the floor under my bed. I opened my eyes. I saw my room mate aggitated holding some white balls and rolling them to the corners of the room. I thought I was still dreaming those strange dreams I got when I eat a heavy meal. After a few seconds, the aroma surrounded me and opened the closed forgotten winows of my nose memory. I opened my eyes and sat down on my bed examining my room mate who said:
- Naphthaline.
- What?
- For the cockroaches.
- Are you dreaming?
- .........
- I I dreaming?
- That smell (I smiled).
- Yeah of camphor (he went to the W.C.)

I stood up. pulled my pajamas up well. Bent on the floor and looked under my bed. It was there. My room mate came out of W.C. I asked him with the most kindness I can, as if am a child again:
- please give me one.
He smiled. Opened his drawer. Took a small bag. Gave me one ball and looked smiling into my face. I took it as a treasure. Went to my bed. I sat. Said to myself: and finally my dream came true. But I did not put it in my mouth.

I told Mwnqithe about that. And that man proved himself again as my living encyclopedia. He started talking about naphthalene and its relation to benzene and how the aroma can cause some pleasant sensation and that some kids get addicted to smelling benzene then he talked about Michae Faraday and magnetism and his discovery for naphthalene and at last he start to talk about the use of naphthalene as moth repeler in some management of some skin diseases. While Mwnqithe kept lecturing we went into the elevator. There were other people there who kept silent while looking at Mwnqithe practicing his lust of using his mouth in lecturing while his gaze was fixed above, somewhere, while my eyes were widely opened looking stunned in his mouth which he likes every now and then to close it as a pause then reopen it making some sound with his lips and tongue, kind of preparation to eat dinner. Two young men smiled to each other suffering to resist laughing at Mwnqithe mouth and my widey opened eyes. When I noticed those two men I realized that me and Mwnqithe were really funny. I laughed while I was looking on them resisting their laughter. Mwnqithe stopped lectureing and the two young men were sure that we are mad.

At the dinner we sat next to six surgeons who were talking about some patients as cases. They kept speaking with a loud voice. I asked Mwnqithe suddenly:
- Tell me about cockroachs.
The speaking surgeon stopped talking and looked at me thinking there is something wrong while Mwnqithe felt happy to have the opportunity to lecture again saying:
- How I like cochroachs of the city of medecine here in Baghdad!!(the other three surgeons started to look on Mwnqithe)
- Are they special? ( I asked while resisting a laughter)
- Sure..they came from France as a well known Iraqi proffesor in insects said.(The other three surgeons joined the first three surgeons to listen to what Mwnqithe was saying)
- How? ( I asked)
- With wooden furniture from France. Did you notice that they are small an yellow and living in furniture, while Iraqi cockroachs are big, black and live in W.C.
- Yeah thats true. (I looked at Mwnqithe with eyes that said: I really amire you, while all six surgeons smiled. I asked) Are you sure of these information? Did that professor said that? Are they really from France?
- If you are not sure go this night, hold a female cockroach, ask her this way: vous etes francaise? and she will answer you Oui or Non.
The six surgeons and me all laughed. When I went back to room I smelled naphthalene. Looked on the wooden drawer saw a cockroach sleeping on her back. I thought she was dead. I hold a paper and tried to hold the cochroach with it. She moved her legs trying to go back on her belly and walk. She suceeded to be on her belly, she walked slowly. She was dizzy. I felt sad for her. I took all the naphthalene balls from below our beds and throught them away in trash bin.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


I got a great respect for Egypt. They got the reputation of having great psychiatrists. Prof Ahmad Ukasha till recent years was the chief of the WHO programme of mental health (maybe till now). Dr Nawal Saadawie is a female psychiartist with many writings about sexiology and female psychology and some novels. Dr Yehia El Rakhawi is a well known psychiatrist with many writings in arabic and an active web site. They got the largest number of psychiatrist among the arabic countries.

I was planning to visit Egypt but it was difficult. I hope that someday I can get there.

Yesterday I was reading Al Shark El Awsat newspaper which was talking about that group in Iraq which thinks that Imam El Mahdi is living with us hiding in some place and there are some people saying that they saw him and they give orders to people saying that it is from Imam El Mahdi and that they should follow them with no arguments, they even should told them about their moves, even if some follower wants to go to visit his familly he got to told his boss first. Even when their boss walk they walk behind him. What surprised me that among them are some doctors I know, I get surprised by their beliefs and acts, feeling that I should said nothing about that, not giving any commets.

I turned the newspaper to the last page and here I found that Egyptian singer Souad Makkawi was died yesterday.
She has been known to perform monologues at the beginning that accompanied most artist Ismail Yassin, was also represented in more than 18 films. I remembered my love for black and white films since I was a teenager waiting every Teusday to see on the Iraqi first channel the night episode of (from cinema archives), and hearing all those songs of those nice tall well built artists with their always wide smile and joy. They always seemed coming from a time I never knew and I will never reach. A time of easiness and godness, smile and joy. All films (but 1 or 2) were from Egypt, the first arab country to develop well its cinema and theatre and litterature.
I started to compare about our youth in Iraq now and Egyptian youth in the 50s. Am not sure about what to say about that. What am sure of is that if I am able to chose, I would chose Egypt in 50s to dance in its cabaret.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Declaration Of Insanity (Khudair Merry)

This man always catches my interest when he writes in Al Sabah newspaper. His face is a typical face of an Iraqi unknown thinker from the south. He is thin. He should be. Wearing Faucouldian glasses. Have a look in his eyes mixing unknown experiences for us. His eyes are eyes of a man with too much to say. We got to put him in a colored TV live show and listen to what he wants to say.

"Declaration of Insanity, My Journey From The Torture To The Asylum" is the story of Khudai Merry, that student in Baghdad Academy of Beaux-art. He was studying theatre. Tried at the end of 1980s with a friend of him to escape with illegal papers to outside Iraq. Men in ages able to hold firamrs were not free to leave Iraq during the previous regime.
Khudair Merry was caught. impresoned. Tortured because they thought that he was a member of a group planning to change the rigime in Iraq. They thought that he knew a man called Abu Nada. But he said he doesn't know him. They tortured him more till one day they took him to an attorney. (the following lines are my trial of translation of some lines from the book):
" After days, they came to my cell in the morning, they tied me well, put a bag made of black cloth in my head, took me out for long distance, not as usuall, then they stopped, took the bag off my head, and made me to face an old man, having no hair in his scalp, nor in is eye brows, the chaos and neglect in his room cought my attention, files thrown on his desk without order. Behing him there was a metalic file container, is cigarettes were on the floor, had a table lump with no light in it, his spectacles got very thick glasses, I barely could see his eyes if he really got eyes....He did not noticed me until a man told him that am there. He raised his face toward me and did not talk a thing till he asked me:
- are you guilty or not guilty?
- I don't know (I answered immediately).
- are you guilty or not guilty?
- what do you think?
somebody kicked me on my ass and told me in a sound that was about to explode:
- talk properly to your highness the attorney.
I knew for the first time the type of attornies used by the regimn, an elderly barely can see will be responsible for all those young people filled with enthusiasm. Ifelt the ridiculousness in that fact and I bursted into laughter"

The attorney uspected that he was mad. He asked the guards whether he is mad. They start to look on Khudair with some fear but did not answer. Then after a while:
"A fly rested on the attorney's nose, one of the men tried to made it flew away but he hit the spectacles of the attorney which felt down. At that moment the attorney yelled as if he was a child spnked by his parent:
-I told you he is crazy, take this crazy out of here"

Khudair Merry started to ast as if insane to convince them that he is insane. They were convinced. They took him to Al Rashad hospital (al shamma3ya), and he rested there till 1991 when the gulf war started and he escaped when there were no guards. Part 2 of his book talks about his diaries in the mental hospital. He give the frank names of the workers there. I asked on of them whether she agreed that he publish her name, and she answered that he did not asked her. He just wrote the book. Actually 2 books. If we neglect this moral mistake of publishing frnak names, it would be a great book to read.

What I Missed In Baghdad (part 3)

Before I went to Mosul, a large explosion occured in Al Mutanabbi Street (Al Mutanabbi is a great Iraqi poet). It was near Al Shabander cafe were many novilists, poets, and other artists sit together to have tea and chatting. I did visited once before I left. It was ruined. I visited the street after I visited my home. It was still ruined. But there were some working in it. Hoping they will bring life back to it. I managed to found some old survivors of the book sellers. I bought some books and magazines.

While I was going back I saw this writting on the wall. It says:
The Artist
is the light in the way
to democrasy in the new society

I found that same old man with the characteristic head cover. He is little tense. Does not smile easily. Does not like extrachatting. He is the newspaper seller in that corner in Al Rasheed Street, one of the oldest streets in Iraq, (it is said that it was the first).

I missed some newspapers which doesn't reach Mosul. Al Mada is one of my best. It also gives you a free book each month. When end reading Al Mada in afternoon I put it on the table. At the evening, after 5 p.m. I start studying psychiatry. I got that habit of reading with my eyes while my hand should hold a pencil. It seems lately that I cannot read without holding a pencil. Kind of Manual fixation (am just kidding there is no such a term). And I put notes while I read. If I put notes on an empty paper it would be hard for me to get rid of it. I keep it and the papers keep gathering till some day I throught them in trash bin with some feeling of despair. The newspapers solved my problem. I put on them my notes. I came later at night. Read the paper with my notes on it. Kind of lovable mixture for me. I may keep it till next morning. So that short term memory is little transformed into long term memory. Then I can get rid of it. I usually give it to a friend. Or just throught it in trash bin.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

What I Missed In Baghdad (part 2)

I missed Mwnqithe. My friend. His eyes were full of joy to see me. He kept talking to me and touching me while he was taking. He kept smiling. He wanted me to go with him to his room to drink tea before I leave to my house. I told him I would go with him only after he accept that I took a picture for him and publish it online again like I did before. He said that he would agree only after I found him a CHEESSS (nylon sac) to take picture with. I asked why. He answered because he want to hold it in the picture and say CHEESSS because he is against the use of the english word CHEESE by arabs when takeing picture, instead he wants arabs to use the word CHEESSS which mean nylon sac. I agreed and we made this picture.

As if all the laughter we got was not enough when Mwnqithe asked me after we drunk our tea: Do you know what my Ph.D. research is about? I didn't know. He bursted again into laughter. And he could not stop. He was laughing but muttering a word in between laughter. That word was not clear but I get it. It was PENIS. He said it in english to sound more polite. His research was about some skin normal variant of the penis that should not be diagnosed as a disorder. He showed me hundreds of pictures of penises that I don't dare to show here but I chosed this one about differeces of penises in animals.

Oh dear, I really miss Mwnqithe. Thanks God I got such a friend. Wise enough to be little crazy like me. Yeah am happy am again near Mwnqithe.

Please be sure that Mwnqithe is a man with great knowledge of history, art, science, and almost everything. He is an encyclopedia. Almost always I ask him to open a blog. But he always answer that he don't have time. Pray with me that Mwnqithe will open a blog. Cause we will read some precious treasures.

What I Missed In Baghdad

The first morning was full of joy. Colors of things around were vivid. I was to go to my house but my friends wanted me to stay just few hours. To have lunch with them. I agreed with a wide smile. It was really long ago when I was much wanted and missed as I felt that day. Everybody was smiling to me. Especially doctors from Al Hilla who knew me better than doctors from Baghdad. Some even think that am from Hilla/ Babylon because of my relations with almost all doctors from Hilla working in this hospital, and that makes me feel proud. My friends told me to join them in the work. I preferred to be alone a little. We decided that we meet at lunch.

I went to the cafeteria early to see whether there are some changes. The workers are new. Ali is no more there. Ali was about 14, and I kept annoying him by asking him: Ali, my love, Allaowie, why don't you love me?

At first he did not get it, he became afraid from me, avoided me, but after few weeks he knew am just kidding, and started to really love me like I loved him.

On the T.V. there was an interview with Falah Hasan.

That legendary football player. He reminds me of my 2 cousins who trained me the first time to play football. They are older than me. I did not have brothers. They were my older brother figures. I was identifing with them. Modelling them. But the problem arose when they get older. One of them became a dogmatic islamist. The other was a Don Juan with all that name can mean. So I played the two personalities when I was about 13 to 17 till I decided that I got to be myself. Lets go back to my childhood in my uncle's house garden were I kick the ball and run trying to be a Falah Hasan. A legend. An Ahmad Rathy. An Adnana Durjal. Or Raad Hammoudi (all are Iraqi football players).

When I saw this picture of Falah Hasan,

I smiled and remembered Makkie a childhood companion that for few weeks became a dear one. We decided to play cards which got the photos of football players and a number. A game I cannot remember its rules now. But it is something about the number in the photo. You can win all the photos of the other player. And that can lead to problems. And that what happened between me and Makkie.

When I saw this picture,

I remembered my father. Am sure that if my sister read this will burst into laughter. We used to laugh on my father's old pictures with his hair cuts. My father is really a great man. I miss him. He likes oil drawing. He likes music and liturature. From him I learned art. Am much like him. He is really a stable mixture of a muslim who is artist. A muslim who likes music and draw oil painting. I remember all this when I saw this face. I remember this also when I hear Khalid Al Kishtini talking in Al Iraq Al Hurr radio in the weekly programme named: Ayam el kheer (days of the good) am not sure about the translation.

And oops here is Muayad El Bedri,

that man who used over years to present in the Iraqi channel one his programme intitled: el ryatha fi isbou3 (the sport in a week). He reminds me of my primary school, and 7aleeb weya ka3ak abu il simsim (milk and some biscuits), and he reminds me of Iraq-iran war cause his programme was interrupted sometimes by some news from the war.

The most beautiful thing he reminds of is the music of the programme. That part from Barber of Ishbiya (Sivilia?) opera. tin tin tin terra. tin tin terum....tin tin tirum ti tirum ti rum rum...

I played the music loud in my mouth. I thought that somebody sitting behind me will laugh at me...I turned and looked...

No one is there.....thanks God...

Thursday, January 17, 2008

To Baghdad With My Headache Gauge

When I saw the driver, I noticed that he is young. I prefer older drivers. I started to navigate my gaze aroung in the garage to search for another car while the young driver kept walking with me after he knew that I was going to Baghdad.
I saw a young driver in that corner, and an old driver next to him. The old driver had a car with small seats. During my work in the emergency unit I saw many accedents caused by that car of the old driver. It is a fast car with low weight. It is something from east asia but not from Japan nor India.
The young man kept offering me his prices. We were walking slowly to his car. Seeing that it is a GMC, a black colored, I let him took my bag from my hand to put it in the car. His car took 7 passengers. There were 2 old men who were laughing to each other. When they knew that I would join them they greeted me with a wide smile, taking away little of my tension and disolving it (my tension) in the tea in those glasses nearby in that simple cafe where an old man was talking to a vagabond woman with some malice in his eyes and some seduction in hers. I needed tea but I decided to shut my mouth till I reach Baghdad in peace. I looked away.
While other passengers were joingin our car, 1 turned into 2 in my headache gauge.

While he was muttering his byebyes to his friends in the garage including the man with the malicious eyes now focused on the lady with the depressed face and downcasting gaze not seeing things around her but seeing through them sitting behind me our driver started our journey....

He drives well. But his benzene gauge is on the ZERO. I told him. He answered me after a pause which meant (I know my work and I don't want your comments): it is not working. Now our driver is wearing another personality (persona=mask), different from that personality when he was trying to convince us to take his car. These thought run on my mind fastly:(now the driver revengs from those who took a long time to convince to take his car or to ignore his quiestions..If I go back to the moment I first met him I remember I looked into his eyes first and smiled to him while answering:yes, I want to go to Baghdad. and all I did after that is walking with him while I jumped my gaze around in the garage. Some passengers did not anser his questions from the first time, did not look into his eyes, so I said to my self that he is not revenging, at least not from me...but wait..REVENGE!?? am really exagurating. I think am little tense)..I looked again on the benzene gauge and 2 turned into 4 in my headache gauge.

After 5 hours we took lunch in a restaurant almost exactly in the middle of our way to Baghdad. When we resume our trip sun was going down. It is about 400 km from Mosul to Baghdad, but US army troops sometimes block the highway temporarly (for minutes to hours) to some cause not clear for us. An average journey from Mosul to Baghdad took 10 hours. There are no airplains.

The sun went down. the sky was violet. Surrounded from either side by palm orchards, our car started to cough. After few minutes of no more coughing our car sneezed and coughed at the same time saying something like: and the darkness was filled with its echoes while our heads were dancing back and forth, left to right over our neck while our car was gagging suffocated. Our driveres' eyes were revealing a new personality of a frantic stupid child for a moment turned into a personality of a blaspheming psychopath while the car stopped mute as a stone.

We heard nearby bullets firing and 4 turned into 0 in my headache gauge as if my headache was paralysed in waiting to see what these bullets could mean. Headache has no meaning, lost its significance. Something like nausea was coming into my chest. My heart did not run fast. I was in the waiting mode. I was not afraid but I was numb. I think I had some type of derealization feeling that this could not be true and that am in a dream till strong big lights of a new car was coming in the direction of our car made me awake from my pseudodream. The new car was walking wrongside. Slow. Two men with fire arms came out. slowly approached us. Our driver took the personality of a mature man now and opened his door and went out slowly to talk with them. They offered help. Gave us banzene. And guided us to a benzene station to have more. The 2 old men started to blame our driver in a continous regualar rhythm that did not wane. He kept silent while my headache gauage was still on ZERO.

We took benzene and entered Baghdad at 8 p.m.. I took a taxi to the nearby hospital where my friend was waiting for me. It was dangerous to go to my home at that time. My friend was so kind. I suffered to show him back some kindness cause I wasn't in the mood yet. At 10 p.m. I put my head on the pillow, my headache gauge shooted from Zero to 8. I smiled that it was still working. I took a deep breath. Touched my forhead. Turned to my left. 8 turned into 7. Waow am alive and good. I smile. My friend was preparing dinner for me. I smelled the aroma of the soap. I smiled. Wow. Life is delicious. 7 turned into 6.9. I smiled and passed into deep sleep.....

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What I Will Remember Of Mosul

What I will remember will differ across time. It is about 20 days since I came from Mosul. The most clear thing to remember is some peole. The tea time with my friend, the neurosurgeon, at 4 p.m. with the ieces of candies and pasteries he brought from his home to me. I will always remember how he used to call me: ghouhi mnil dini...which means (my soul in this life), or (you are my soul in this life)..He said that in a very characteristic way of Mosuli accent by replacing the R sound into a sound of GH, like in the french language of paris.

I will never forget the 2 doctors of pediatrics who trained me to play ping pong and kept defeating me. Both of them were energetic and full of zeal. They were two men to learn from their style of living.

I will remember the vingar smell in AL NAJAFI street were they sell books and olives in vingar. I will remember the old quarters of old Mosul which am afraid will be modernized in the coming years.

I will remember shopping with that kind man, Dr. Wisam, and our long walks across Mosul markets.

I will remember that I did not see Mosul in peace. I saw Mosul in war. But despite of that it was so lovely. How wonderful will it be when peace will come back some day?

I will remember some few dogmatic peole, angry on most of the things. Will they get some wosdom and tranquillity?

I will remember that I heared daily many cries for prayer and many treachings through loudspeakers of mosques, while the churches were not that active due to some threats, and some churches (I saw one, they say it was 5) having signs of being hitten by an explosion, with their windows broken, and walls got some broken pieces and black tar.

I will remember I did not hear a piece of Mosuli Music. Will we have some other Othman El Mosuli playing us some Takaseem (=arpeches) on his Oud?

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Our Ward

I worked, lived, slept in our ward for the past 8 months. I even knew the gost of Anna O living in it. Me and Anna O talked too much about psychiaty. She taught me too many things. She was my teacher. She only came at night when all others sleep. She don't talk. I only look at her, while she gives me a silent lesson. She says:
in psychiatry
you got to know how to use silence
silence is a technique of interview
silence let other speek more
and the more again
but don't over use it
She told me all that in silence. Speechlessly. And I was a loving student. Wanting to learn more from this lady.

Time came when I should go back to Baghdad. Am already preparing my self to miss this ward.

I made many lectures for my self and also for others if they like to attend. But it seems that students of psychiatry get easily bored by it. So my lectures did not get that success in the eyes of others. In my eyes they were so nice. I will miss the upportunity to make such lectures when I will leave Mosul soon.
This is charcot with a hypnotized lady in his arms in front of students.

Concept of schizophrenia was my first lecture.

Here are some other lectures I gave in this lovely ward. At last thank for all my colleagues and seniors who supported me during my 8 months course in Mosul.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

THE CLEANER (part 1)

(this is a story from my imagination, any resemblance of names is only a matter of accedent)

It was only after about 3 months when I get started to adapt well to my new life as a resident doctor in pediatrics in Al Hilla Babylon, started to make friendships and had again the ability to laugh from my heart, accepting the living in a room shared by another doctor, and not seeing my family more than 2 days after a 10 days of continuous work…It was only then when my fear from patients decreased, and I started to deal better with emergencies, even if I could not diagnose or treat I could manage to find a solution someway or another, especially by making phone calls to those who are more experienced than me….

It was only after about 3 months when I saw her the first time. It was late in a hot afternoon of summer when temperature reaches about 45 centigrade when she came to the emergency unit holding a paper in her hand, a paper on which we can write drugs to be freely given to patients from the pharmacy of our hospital. I knew she was a cleaner from her blue dress, but she didn’t act as all other cleaners, nor any other sub staff, who usually came to us in the middle of our work and may interrupt our talking with a patient saying: “Ammu (means my uncle, but it is usually used in our health system to call those who are superior to you), Ammu, Ammu, just, just write kiflex capsules, Fenestil drops, and Tusiram syrup here, yeah, don’t forget to sign it, and write here 30 so that they give me 30 capsules”… Well it is a long story, but I can summarize it this way: our salaries were around 3 to 5 US dollars, and many workers in the health field take free drugs from hospital to sell them to pharmacies out side hospital, and some doctors were doing that too…

Having shocked by that fact in my first 3 months, I stopped my arguments with anyone asked me to write him/her a prescription….but I could not respect them…. and I did noticed that some workers don’t do that… to those who were shy of doing that I had a great respect….

So, she was standing there with her blue suit, there was a patient talking to the doctor sitting next to me, while I was just looking at that cleaner in her late 50s, standing far away from us but looking at us, far by about 10 meters, looking at me then at the doctor next to me then to the paper in her hand, she was hesitated. When I noticed that she is looking at her paper while biting her lower lip, I felt how beautiful she is. When the patient talking to the doctor next to me started to leave, the doctor next to me stood up and was about to start speak to me. At that moment I looked at her face, she was so anxious, her eyes were fixed on my colleague’s face, as if examining the possibility of asking him to write her a prescription while he was about to leave. I was asking my mind: why she doesn’t come to me? My mind answered: she may know that doctor better than you…I wanted to talk to her, so while I was nodding my head for my colleague telling him that he can go, I said to her with great respect as if am talking to my senior: “please come here..” and I referred with my opened hand to a chair on the other side of the table I was sitting on…Her face became more red, while she smiled a little and came walking cautiously towards me with her head tilted a little below but her eyes were fixed on mine.

- How are you doctor? (she said with a real smile, grateful that I had invited her, and I notice that she did not use the Ammu when calling me, but she used Doctor).
- Am fine, thank you, please take a seat.
- No doctor, thank you, I know you are tired but my daughter phoned me and told me that her daughter is having frequent bowel motions, and I don’t know what to do...(so she is a grandmother I told my self, but she is so beautiful).
- Oh, ….well……how old is she?
- About 2 years…
- Did she vomit?
- I don’t know….but I think not, cause my daughter did not mention it…and I know my daughter well…if there was a vomiting she would be frightened and would told me about it in the first place…(then she returned her eyes to me after she was talking while she was looking at the table as if remembering something).
- Why she would remember vomiting?
- It is a long story doctor…I just know her..

I noticed that she is calm, her voice is little low pitched for a female, it was a deep voice, and I noticed that she differs from other cleaner, she seems very clever and wise I thought...and my heart beatings were thrubing my chest and head...a type of palpitation a was having at that time that could be evoked by many situations....but in this situation i suspected that I liked her...

- Well.... frequent bowel motions can lead to dehydration in children…and it is better to be seen by a doctor, and its treatment in children is different than its treatment in adults…and….mmmm….well….(I looked at the paper in her hand)…if you want I can write you any drug you want, but about that child, she got to be seen by a doctor…
- Oh yeah I thought that too, yeah, I will go and take them to the nearby health centre…sorry to bother you doctor…I will go return this paper to its place, unless you want it?
- Oh!, no I don’t want it…thank you…(I said that with little surprise and my face turned red I thought, and I bit my lower lip…)
turning into her face I noticed that she is examining my face with her narrowly opened eyes, when our eyes met, she smiled and told me:

- It is me who must thank you doctor, take care.
- Iake care.

The following days I knew that she works in the obstetrics and gynecology emergency unit, which share us the same entrance door and a big waiting lobby, and its door is next to ours. I have seen all those who were working in that unit, but did not see her before, all the staff working in the maternity unit knew me, and we were greeting each other daily, but that lady is not so social….
I saw her the second time while the staff were changing shifts, the morning shift were going out to their homes, and I was walking in the opposite direction, I was on the afternoon shift that day, all were greeting me as they were walking out and she was coming, wearing her black ABAYA (a conventional dress for women in middle east), she saw me from a distance, then perverted her gaze away and she passed just next to me. My eyes were fixed in her face. She is tall, white, wrinkles around her black eyes, her sclera is little red here and there, her nose is average one, her mouth is little wide but her lips are turned to the inside, from outside her lips seems so slim, and not so red, angles of her mouth were turned down, her eye brows are so slim, slim by nature, she doesn’t use make up, her eye brows are so short, but you can see them as individuals, not stacked together, she is so beautiful, and while others were walking with their colleagues, she walked alone, not fast, not slow, she is at ease, she knows how she does it, and she interred my heart, no more, no less….

That day I kept remembering her, I asked the afternoon maternity cleaner:
- The cleaner working the morning shift, she missed a paper on my table, what is her name?
- Oh, you mean UM SABAH (um sabah, means mother of Sabah, means she got a son called Sabah, and in our culture we call women by the name of their son, we call the by the word UM “um = mother of” then we put the name of her oldest son).
- Yeah, that beautiful lady..
- Hmmmm…beautiful lady…hmmm…Ammu!!!
- What?
- Nothing, just give me the paper I will give it to her.
- No, I will give it to her….thank you…
- Hmmm….(she rose her eye brows and smiled, I smiled too, hoping that she would tell UM SABAH that I called her a beautiful lady, but would that be good, would she like that? the obsessions of a poor young lover started wearing me…oh god help me).
I didn’t saw her for about a week. I was looking about her, but did not went inside the maternity unit where I think she spent her time, working. I needed to find a cause to go there…

It was our salary day, and all gathered there, in a major large lobby where no patient allowed to inter, only for the sub staff, I was having headache, so I decided to go to sleep and decided that I take the salary on the next day, but I blamed my self for that mistake, cause almost all workers take the salary on the first day, and it was a great opportunity to see her. the next day I was working as a donkey carrying for free heavy merchandise in a mountain, so I forget again my salary.

On the third day, at about 2 pm, late in afternoon, I went to take my salary, they gave me what was about 5 US dollars (15,000 Iraqi Dinars), I was the only one in that day taking salary, no one in the lobby, I was to go to the main door but she opened it, she came in, looked at my face longer than previous times, she looked at my hands holding money, she turned her face to the salary giving room while the tip of her tongue appeared to lubricate her 2 lips, then she introvert her 2 lips inside her mouth, then opened her mouth to take a deep breath while she gave me another long look, during which I was frozen but my head moved slowly and a little bit to one side, I think to the right side… she came to take her salary, that woman, is surely not like others, I stayed in my place while the 2 women working in giving salaries were happy to see my lady, and were treating her in a very special way, and both of them gave me some examining gazes, so I decided that I should pretend to count the money, then went out, feeling that that lady now knows me better…

One morning I saw her again, walking in a the hospital, I knew her from a distance of about 300 meters, she noticed me I think from about 100 meters, she fixed her gaze in the space in front of her, not on me, I was to my right, she was to her right, she is to my left, so, she fixed her gaze not on me, and the moment we passed each other she looked down, and I turned 2 times to see her….

I was to greet her, if she just looked once to my face, but she didn’t do that, and her look freezes me…but I got to break the cold glassy barrier that separate us, but she seemed to put those glassy barriers to most people working in the hospital…so….I got to be aware, of not to make silly things….

After about 2 months or maybe three of no talking to this lady, I decided that I must not freeze anymore like a stupid child, like a moron, and it was late in afternoon one day when I saw her sitting in the patients lobby, which was almost empty, looking from the window…..while my heart felt like it is wrapped with hot hot honey, that its drops are falling in my stomach, making sound like this: blup…..dup……in a very slow rhythm, I walked to her on that slow rhythm, not knowing whether I would be courage to talk to her when I would reach her….I reached her, she turned her face to me, and I said:
- How are you UM SABAH.
- Fine thank you doctor…(she said that while she smiled, and her hands met together at that moment with her fingers first intermingled, then with the left hand she started to pressure on the right)..
- How is that child….the daughter of…
- Oh, she is fine now, your advice helped us really, we took her to the nearby health centre, and they gave her some treatment and she is good now, thank you doctor..(she is so kind, I didn’t gave them great help, but she is exaggerating to let me feel that I did rescue their child, even if I did not told them to take her to the health centre they would did that, I smiled, then she added):
- Are you new here doctor?
- Yeah, about 6 months…
- Yeah, doctors come and go, and we stay here..
- Since when you work here?
- Oh, it was a very long time, before this hospital was built I was in the old surgical hospital, when they built this hospital in 1977 I came here to work here in many wards, and now since few months am in the emergency unit, but I will change this soon cause I don’t like it, and my age is no more helping me to be that active….(at this moment I turned my face to look through the window, and she was looking into my face, I turned to her, asked her):
- Do you know my name?
- I would be happy to know it….(her face turned red, and her voice hesitated, while her lips were turned inside her mouth, then her tongue’s tip appeared to lubricate her lips, the her eyes became more narrowly opened to focus in my face).
- But I know you name UM SABAH..
- Yeah..(she turned her face to her hands for a while, then looked at the window, then at me again).
- How I knew your name?
- You asked I think.
- Yeah….(both of us smiled, and then I add)..I won’t tell you my name, you got to ask about it…(she raised her eye brows and smiled giving me a gaze which I thought it means who do you think your self? , a facial expression of ridicule, so I decided to go ridiculous to the end and said):

- And you know what UM SABAH, I give you only three days to know my name…
- And if I fail to know it? (she that with a malicious smile)
- I will punish you… (I said that with a challenging smile)
- What will be my punishment..(smiling)
- The punishment is that you give me a kiss.
- Oh…(she laughed in a low voice)..and if I will know you name, will you give me present?
- Yeah…I will give you a kiss…
- Oh..(she burst into laughter)

after that conversation I decided not to mention that to her again, I mean not to ask her about my name, but when I saw her after three days she gave me a very nice smile, so I asked her if she knows my name, and she said:
- Yes, I know it now.
- What?
- Samer..
- Samer?...this is not my name.
- So what would be my punishment..(at that point I thought that she did that deliberately…so that there is no punishment nor a present).
- It is something like samer..
- What? usama?
- No…
- Hmmm…so …
- So….one day I will punish you…

she made a wide smile, she was happy about that game, and me too, and both of us didn’t want it to end. that same day, when I was going back to the doctor’s house where we have our lunch, she was leaving home.
- Oh, hi UM SABAH, are you going home.
- Yes.
- Do you live in Al Hilla?
- No, in a village near it.
- What is its name?
- A difficult name for you to remember. (oh god, what an answer, what did she mean? that can have multiple meanings).
- Oell me and we will see.
- El Jimijma.
- I will remember that for all my life.
- ……
- Ok take care, see you soon.
- Ok Dr. Sami, see you. (oops, she knew my name).

she went walking on the other side of the way, I walked more slower than her, till she left from the front door of the hospital.