Thursday, July 30, 2009


Dishdashat subgh il nilli

Dishdasha colored indigo

Gumi gumi ib4aragha, hallo

wake up wearing only it, hello

He was a Guns ‘n Roses fan with his long hair and deep blue jeans. He hated her at the first place because she got a strange ritual; she would reach the house of doctors with her Abaya full of dust and mud. She would took off her Abaya and wash it and hang it on the palm to dry. “Our houses are of mud, our streets are unpaved so… I get all the dust from there you know”, she comment once to him when she noticed how he looks at her when she do that.
He hated her more when he smelled her body as she passed next to him and asked: “do you want breakfast doctor?”. He nodded his head “yes”. She brought him a dish of an omelet of two eggs. She said: “I made only one egg for all the others but for you I made two because I want you to get fat”. She was happy and smiling. He said: “I hate eggs, they smell like farts, and I like my body, I want to stay thin, I don’t want to get fat”. He put a dot at the end of the sentence, stood up, took his white coat while she was frozen from sadness, and he went to the ward.
She had a very poor salary. The doctors, his colleagues decided once that they give her an extra salary gathered from their salaries. He was the only one who refused. He said: “it is not my duty in life to aid a woman went poor due to her ignorance”. His colleagues new that he is tough minded. No argument would help. But one doctor said: “her husband is a martyr in Iraq-Iran war when you were still a child, she is so alone and poor, show some empathy”. Instead of showing empathy he raised his shoulder and went to his room.
That was enough for her to avoid him. Till one day he could not sleep at noon from the heat of the weather. He asked her while she was washing the dishes: “how can people sleep at noon in this abyss?”. She smiled and said: “they wear Dishdasha, and their houses are from mud, it is so easy”. She raised her shoulders while talking and left him alone. He started wondering about the way he dresses usually. He remembered how hot are the walls of his room which were built from concrete and metal. Would mud be colder? How could people live in them when they even don’t have electricity? He wondered.
He went after her and gave her a sum of money. She refused angrily. He insisted. She was almost to beat him with the knife in her hands. He put the money at the sink and went murmuring: “I won’t accept it back”. She spent a moments of shaking. But finally she found a solution.

Wil guthla sit 4ayat w

And the front hair got 6 folds

mandel mandal faregha, hallo

I cannot find when it starts (the fold of the hair), hello

The next day she told him she would wait for him in this noon to give him something. He kept thinking about her. When he came back she told him to wait till every body is asleep. WOW, he started to think about sex. Will she do sex to him?
Everybody went to sleep their siesta his heart started pounding. She showed up and asked with one word: “hungry?”.
He almost swallowed his heart from lust. She laughed. She went to the refrigerator and brought him a deep red watermelon. She said: “you would not eat this until you do me a favor”. When he was about to open his mouth she went to the kitchen. She brought with her a blue stripped dishdasha and said: “go to your room and wear this, you would feel cold inside it”.
He was surprised by these rituals. He went to his room and took on that dishdasha and felt how much cold it is inside it. He smelled her odor in the dishdasha but now he likes it. He went back and she clapped her hand from happiness, in spite that she was in her 50s but she was still a child at these special moments of happiness. While he was eating that cold delicious deep red watermelon she went to her house. He had a good siesta that day and spend the night longing to see that beautiful lady again the next day to thank her and his longing started to be like a small fire of love lit kindly into his love naïve heart while she spent the night alone in her room poorly lit by her lantern longing to meet her martyr in heaven.

ya baba khuthni wiak

You Dadi take me with you

sa3a magder beleyyak, hallo

I cannot stand one hour without you, hello

itwa3idni ween ween algak

you gave me a randez vous but where can I find you

ruhi el 3aziza tifdak, hallo

my only soul is all for you, hello

The song is a traditional Iraqi song performed here by Ilham Al Madfa'ai. The first picture was taken by me during my rotation in Hilla. The second and the forth painting are of Mahood Ahmad, a famous Iraqi painter. The third painting is of Jawad Salim, a famous Iraqi painter.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Bon Nuit

I don’t claim that the lyrics are something with deep meanings and insights. It only says that don’t hide your love, show it, we all need others. This is all the philosophy in the lyrics. Are simple words not important? Should words be complex as if made by a stubborn long beard man with serious frightening look that we should take it as a deep insight? Naaaaaa Axel Rose and Slash are so much enough for me these days to give me philosophy. After all it is not only the lyrics that made a song. What makes a song is the music, the voice, and the memory attached to it.

Hey I almost forgot, and the video clip. This song got a video clip that lasts for about for 9 minutes and few seconds. Something stuck to my memory, especially when the one of the guests of the wedding jump into the cake. Was it the bride who jumped into the cake? I cannot remember.

These days are really hot and dry here in Baghdad. You know what? Our local electricity generator had made a DOOV! An ugly explosion with some dark black ugly smoke and stopped working like a donkey that is trying to be stubborn in his attitude she never agreed to work again and this is the third day that we are, the neighbors, hot, lazy, trapped, and drowsy.

This night, Sunday night, supposed to be an Ugly one as the next day is a working day, the national electricity came and my air conditioner is blowing cold cold air into my sleeping room and I tried to get access to my email. I did then I tried to google something. I wrote NOVEMBER RAIN. And for over an hour I started singing the lyrics and trying to imitate Axel Rose’s voice, and movements. He got a nosy quality of voice, do you agree? I like how he moves his body while singing. Hey, have you seen Slash’s face? I never did. I always wonder how his cigarette never set fire in his hair.

Bon Nuit.

Friday, July 10, 2009

To Bridge Or Not To Bridge, this is Victoria

Holako made the first bridge in Baghdad from the books he took from its libraries and threw them in Tigris which was colored with ink. Till the start of the 20th century there seem to be no bridge in Baghdad. It seems that bridges remembered the Baghdadies back then of Holako. Before the 20s century people in Baghdad were crossing to the other side of Tigris using Al Quffa, a circular boat, like in the picture above.

At the start of the 20th century Baghdadis started to make boats floating next to each other, the put longitudinal woods over them and the first simple made bridges were made. I wonder how the early Baghdadis back then saw these bridges. They were regarded as unbelievably huge and great. I cannot be sure how they looked in their eyes but this is how they look to our modern eye:

I've seen the bridge and the bridge is long
And they built it high and they built it strong
Strong enough to hold the weight of time
Long enough to leave some of us behind

So when Victoria saw this bridge she thought it is high and strong and she started thinking about suicide for the first 78 pages of the novel entitled by her name and written by Sami Michael that novelist born in Baghdad in a Jewish family to leave Baghdad in the 40s and go to Israel to keep writing his novels and he was the one who translated Najeeb Mahfooth’s novels to Hebrew. You can easily know that he got a degree in psychology from his narration which is full of symbols, psychodynamic symbols. I like how he concentrates on the body language. He would write that Toya put her thumb in her mouth when she saw Rafael, or how the family lit the candles before it is dark at that day when the flood started in Baghdad making the sorrow and fear more intense. The characters have clear fixed traits and each one stands tall as living individual in front of you while you read the novel. They are vivid to a degree that you can imagine what he or she would do when this or that happens. He never forgets to make me laugh or smile at the appropriate time. He is the kind of a novelist that I like, that I hope I can be someday.

So it was 78 pages of Victoria walking along the bridge and thinking about her life and its worth. She would think of suicide for a while then remembers something and the narration takes you in a wave. This is maybe how the bridge looked like in Victoria's eyes back then:

Standing on the bridge looking at the waves
Seen so many jump, never seen one saved
On a distant beach your song can die
On a bitter wind, on a cruel tide

The first 78 pages I just finished is talking about what how the life of Victoria came into her mind while she was planning to throw her body into the mad water as there was a wild wind that day. As she wanted to end her life she remembered her childhood and the words came as water taking us to a house of a Baghdadi Jewish family living in the early years of 20th century. They were a crowded family and their dynamics were so vividly drawn by that expert writer in my mind. He made me even imagine the walls of their big old house. Even the smell. Najeya who prefers to wear her unclean clothes, Azeza and her malice, Izra and his stubborn religiosity and thick beard, and the poor sensitive soul of Victoria among many others.

And the bridge it shines
Oh cold hard iron
Saying come and risk it all
Or die trying

Baghdad got 12 bridges now I think. And she is still not happy with them. They misbehave. That old one, al Sarrafya, which was the longest in the world at its time, is no more carrying the trains with their loud whistles. Al Ahrar (free people) bridge seems trapped between ugly buildings and car crowds, and the others have military check points that made the cars stops in the hot weather and their horns would inter your skull and teach you the concept of headache at its highest tension mixed with hotness.

And every one of us has to face that day
Do you cross the bridge or do you fade away
And every one of us that ever came to play
Has to cross the bridge or fade away

I was worried as I was reading the novel about the fate of Victoria till I reached the middle of chapter seven, page 78, when she quit her plan to suicide and she aimed to go back home. I decided that I should stop reading now and told you about this magnifisant novel, “Victoria”, written in Hebrew by Sami Michael, translated to Arabic by Raja’a Naqqash.

The words in italic rosy font are the lyrics of elton John's song the Bridge which seems to talk about the Golden Gate Bridge, the most site in the world that witnessed suicides, pictured above as the old Baghdadi bridge in Victoria's eyes.