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.


Khalid from said...

Thank you Sami, another exciting post in our exciting land. I enjoyed the title, the pictures, and the whole story.

Thank you for your kind efforts,

Sami said...

Thank you Khalid for your encouragement. Enuma Alish starts with these words: "when on the highs there was no sky". Litterally the name Enuma Elish means When on the highs.

See how the Sumerians were poets?

Bassam Sebti said...

Very moving! Thank you...

Sami said...

Thank you Bassam for your encouragement.

Touta said...

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

i don't think i'll ever forget this sentence. This post was very inspirational, and thank you. :)

the first photo reminded me of a story i heard, of how babel was the grave for tiamat's eyes, full of power, yet old with age.

i look forward to your next post. :)

Sami said...

Thank you Touta for your nice words, you encouraged me to write more. Thank you Touta.

Touta said...

no, thank you sami for your wonderful posts. :)

Sandybelle said...

Actually my body seemed to be frozen as i was reading your post Sami,its so nice and touching..

my body didnt freeze because of no emotion, but because of the spirit that came to blaze up inside me.. really, thanks so much for your post..

i soon read your other posts, not the all, the earliest ones, you have a special way of writing and a great ability to catch hearts, iraqi hearts...

wowwwwwwwwwwwww, i would really love to meet you in person when i'll visit hilla, my dad's uncle lives there and we'll visit him once, if you dont mind :) :) :)

be blessed and safe....

Sami said...

Thank you Sandybelle, such a nice nickname you got, for your words. I would like to meet anyone offcourse who likes and longs for Hilla. I would like to meet people with Iraqi Hearts as you have said. If you are familiar with yahoo messenger we can use it to chat if you don't mind. My yahoo email is

Take care Sandybelle.
Thank you.

Sandybelle said...

ok sir, thanks so much ammu, im going to add you to my email chat :) :) :)

I'm going to ask you so much about philosophy, medicine and blah blah blah :) :)