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