Tuesday, January 06, 2009

While Hilla is Water

When Hilla is a word
It is a vibrating tone
Echoes of which are floating
With heavenly river waves
Fresh cold warm waves touching my naked feet and say:
Hilla



I went to Hilla before few days. In the road I saw those magical palm orchards that I always dream I can go inside one day. I saw small villages that I feel myself belonging to. I always think of myself as a person from a village. I hate cities. I hate car crowds. I hate huge buildings. I like those old brick factories which make bricks from mud. I like those factories even if they emit smoke. The pollution they cause is much less than that caused by cities. There smoke will be cleaned by the holy water, water of Hilla.





When Hilla is a river
The shores of my mind
The boats of my happiness
The moons of my night
Are colored in blue love and uttering:
Hilla



I finally reached al Hilla. I found her (the word "city" is feminine in Arabic) preparing for the day of Ashoura'a. The day which remembers us of the martyrdom of Imam Al Hussein. It is a sad day where people put black flags and some other symbols. A sadness that I found oppressing during my first days in Hilla in 2003, but a quiet sadness that I loved profoundly later. A quietness that I missed, kindness that I submit to, and music that made me surrender.



When Hilla is a lady
The road to her is my lullaby
The walk with her streets is my dream
Her lovely voice mesmerizes me
When she says her name:
Hilla


I went deliberately to the area where one of the most violent explosions occurred in Hilla in 2004. It is a crowded market. Market of street of doctors. My friend had cried that day. A lady from Hilla told the police that her husband had gave shelter to the man who exploded himself. The man who exploded himself was not Iraqi. The police took the ladies husband. I never felt being one day afraid from Hilla. On the reverse I am so afraid from Baghdad. In each street I walk in Baghdad, each car I look at in a crowd, I feel there is a hidden possibility of an explosion. In Hilla I forget about war, loud whistles from ambulances and police cars, and explosions. In Hilla I only find peace and security. A slow walk in this lovely market only makes me more quite and slow. And if I may die once my God, let it be here.

In the market, different odors will touch your nose. You will hear from now and then a man shouting behind you "Balak Balak…..Balak Balak" (=be aware be aware….). they are the men who push merchandise in some old wagon. I never felt I dislike this crowd. This crowd is something holy for me.


I asked a man if I can reach the market of the ceiling (Souk Al Musaggaf) from between the houses on the side. He stood and with big care started to told me to pass right, then right, then left, then I forgot… I went to Al Mahdya quarter walking remembering my stylish friend Maithem who took me once for a walk here. He was so stylish in dress. He was so proud of this old quarter of Al Hilla. It was new for me to see a young man being proud of an old quarter. I learned that from him. Now I am proud of this too. I love these buildings. I adore those people.

I lose my way in Al Mahdya. I went left, right, left, right, right, then I was again the old market I was. I went to a library in this market. Market of Sharaa Al Atibaa (=street of doctors). I found books about everything. Books about religion, atheism, cooking, psychology, computer systems, history of Hilla, poetry, politics, jokes, and others. I found a book written by a Tunisian psychiatrist trying to psychoanalyze the personality of the prophet Mohammed, prophet of Islam. Isn't this great? They are really open minded those people. When I asked the library man why the book price is so high in spite of being a used book, he told me that it is a rare book. So he knows this book.




I bought the book which accompanied me during me way back to Baghdad feeling refreshed and filled with passion while I was from time to time meditate in the traditional clothes of the old man who sat in front of me in the bus.



I am a thirsty camel
Desert filled my eyes with dust
My feet went dry and scaly
While water is called
Hilla



9 comments:

Laura said...

Such a beautiful, beautiful post, Sami. The pictures, the poetry (yours, yes?) the music, your thoughts. I wish to be there, too. If we ever lose contact with each other, look for me in Hilla.

saminkie said...

Thank you Laura. It is beautiful because there is Hilla in it. The poet is mine. The music is played by Oud by Ghasan Bashir in a piece entitled (Ajam Soul) which means G major as far as I know.

Indigo-Daisy said...

beautiful poetry indeed

saminkie said...

Thank you Indigo-Daisy

3eeraqimedic said...

oooooooof ya Sami
I did not think I couild cry for Hilla again.
I have spent hours watching TV this last few days and feeling totally alienated from Iraq, I sat there thinking I do not recognise anything there, I hate everything I see because it is so horribly different to what I used to love and so horribly different to how I wished it could be.
And then I came to your site, and that one picture of the road with the old brick factory and the billowing smioke and I remembered the wooden frames and the lines of clay bricks waiting to be baked and now I am just sitting here crying without really being able to say why.

saminkie said...

My dear friend 3eerqimedic, It is not just your wonderful soul who misses Iraq and feel alienated. Many share you the same feeling. Lately, a healthy phenomenon caught my attention. Publication of many books talking about how Iraq was beautiful before. Like that novel of "Emily Porter" entitled "Daboul (Or Da3boul)". And a novel called "Fareeda" talking about the life of Salima Murad. And many of Khalid Kishtainy books. Many many others. All Iraqies say the same: They feel alinated. I do feel alinated myself. Most of my friends and I are living what maybe called as "Moral Aloneness". Maybe this is why I concentrate in the blog to talk about the Iraq that I miss. That we miss.

Hope in the near future you can visit Iraq dear 3eerqimedic.

Much love and respect.

Tell you a secret? I do cry sometimes. My friend from Al Hashimiya says: "الما يبجي مو رجال" (= one who doesn't cry is not a man".

tracy said...

"One who doesn't cry is not a man". i love that.

Beautiful words, beautiful pictures, beautiful music. i am so sorry you miss Al Hilla so much, my friend. i miss it too...and i have never even been there.

Actually, i miss something sooo much, i just don't know what it is...
your friend,
tracy

saminkie said...

Dear Tracy my Friend,

I hope there will come a day when Iraq will open safely for all the world and nice people like you. In Iraq there are many things that we, the Iraqis, do know them all because they are so many.

In Hilla itself there are many places linked to the old Babylon. For example the quarter called "Al Jameean" where some of its bricks contain old language alphbet. The bricks were taken from buildings of ancient Babylon. I didn't visit Al Jameean nor I am sure of the bricks story. But that was just an example of how much rich Iraq in history and how much it is important that it become safe and florish again. I hope that will be in my life so that I can see it thatway.

Thank you my friend Tracy.

Sami

adifferentvoice said...

I've written a post, linking to your blog, inspired by your photos, about Al Mutanabbi Street. You might like to take a look.

Best wishes,

Margaret