Monday, June 22, 2009

When on the Highs there was no Sky

There is a book I see every now and then named “inventing Iraq”. The cover contains something like a war scene. There was something British in the cover but I cannot remember what it is now. And I got a friend with a big belly who said once: “Iraq is a wrong name, it is the wrong Arabic utterance of the word Iran, it is Iran where it came from, it is the origin”. An Arabic journalist asked Mithal Al Alusi once: “have I heard you saying the Iraqi Nation? Is there an Iraqi nation?”

After I have seen all that I wanted to go more into the original neglected part of Babel. The area was empty. With some fear in my heart I walked slowly into that area. I saw holes in the old walls, I thought about snakes. I thought about how far the medical clinic is from me. I stopped, changed my way into another area which was as old as the first but less frightening.
And in a matter of seconds I was next to Marduk.

Now that I am writing about that visit to Babel, I remembered my first experiences in Hilla. It is the Enuma Elish.

I was a young doctor & he was a worried old father. He seemed not willing to give me details of the medical history of his daughter who was suffering from a deliberating disease threatening her life. He seemed hopeless. He sat on the other side of the table and he did not make any real eye to eye contact with me. His mind was thinking away. I thought I would support him a little by talking about something else than the medical history of his daughter back at that moment. I cannot remember what I said back then that made him answer me little more lively than before with something like: “yes, our heritage is something big, we made the first creation myth!” I asked: “you mean Enuma Elish?”

His lower jaw hanged down open while he gave me the first real eye to eye contact saying in a low voice: “how can you remember its name? How come you know it?”
“I know it!” I said proudly with a victory smile.
“How come that name came to your mind so easily?” he asked seriously without any smile. He was little agitated.
I thought back then he was suspecting that I can understand the old Babylonia language. And if I do so then I might be from a religious minority still living and talking their old language. I felt annoyed a little by his insisting question. I succeeded in diverting the conversation to something else. After few minutes he started to tell me more confidently about his daughter and her suffering. His daughter succeeded in doing better after few days.

Before there was earth and sky, there was no human living, there were so many gods and goddesses, and there was chaos. Tiamat was a goddess with certain power she seemed to like that chaos and she wanted it to continue. Marduk defeated Tiamat and her dragons of chaos, and thereby gained supreme power. He started to have the names (and hence abilities) of the other gods and goddesses.

His name was Ahmed. He was a new doctor who prefers to stay silent in his room that he shares with other three doctors. He greeted me and went back to his bed next to the window to let his eyes fly free. One of the doctors was talking to me about something I can not remember and said while looking at Ahmed: “I swear by Hammurabi what I have said is true”.

The doctors all started laughing while Ahmed smiled at us. I understood that he was talking to them about Hammurabi and they found that very strange and funny. Ahmed joined us silently at our dinner in the house of doctors. I asked him: “So, Ahmed, if you can tell me how Enuma Elish starts I would be your friend”. He was shocked, stopped eating, widened his eyes and then looked at his dish again.

I gave him enough time to answer. He looked at me as if asking: "do you know it yourself?" I whispered to him: “When on the highs there was no sky”. And our hearts met.

And when on the highs there was no sky my friends, Iraq was already there.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Free Association (He’s Me Pal)

Back then we had only two T.V. channels and they were BORRRing so we had a video and few tapes. We used to record some films and watch them again and again. E.T. and the moppet show and some songs were the mixture that made me laugh and comment: “E.T. phone home!! No he says it like this EE TEE PHAN HAAM”. The starting music of the moppet show was something that altered my taste to music. Seeing a movie was a noisy happy experience for me. But when Rain Man was shown for the first time in the 80s, and I succeeded in recording most of it apart from its first 1 or 2 minutes, I learned how to watch a movie in silence. I didn’t know Dustin Hoffman back then and I thought that the HERO was Tom Cruise. I loved his sun glasses and his hair. I wanted to be like him. But when I saw Cramer Vs Cramer I was shocked to see that man, same man, Rain Man, acting as a normal man. I knew that Dustin Hoffman is not abnormal “that was how I call Autism”. So all Rain Man was just acting? Was not true? How can he act like that? Every time I see Rain Man again I get amazed by how he can imitate Autism. Oh God, he is really an actor. He knows how to wear a personality. He is not naked at all that man. Have you seen his black rain coat and black and white hair lately in “last time Harvey”? I wanna be like that.

Seen her? Knew her? Look again.

Yes she is Meryl Streep. Her film “falling in love” was the first time I saw her in my life, and it was the first time to see Robert De Nero also. I was little older when I saw her. I saw that film and recorded it in the 90s, and I fall in love with my fantasies again. And you can imagine may be my day dreams back then. To be lost in the urgency of time running after the metro which would take me to my boring work as a, as…a….. an magazine photo editor, and that woman with that hesitation and that peculiarities of movements, especially when she touched her neck would agree to spend some time with me chatting on a cup of tea while we are both stretching the time into an Arabic thousand seconds and a second….

I have seen many films of Meryl Streep and lately I felt that she is repeating herself. Well, I was deluded.

Yesterday I saw her film with Jack Nicolson, a film talking about really lost people, what was the name of the film? IRONWEED, but I don’t know really what the name means. What interested me in the film was her acting. She is not the Meryl Streep I was deluded about, she was the real creative wonderful amazing Meryl Streep with her front teeth caries and a strong voice while she sang to me “He’s Me Pal”.