Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Streets of Philadelphia

Again, with the souls of hundreds of Iraqis leaving their bodies not due to a cause but because of some ignorant politicians locked into their narrow belonging, again, with those souls still coloring skies with some red and orange lines I passed the desert between Mesopotamia, where wine was made for the first time and Philadelphia, the place where Jesus had been baptized. Jordan is such a country that law is respected to a degree that I missed. From the border between us and them I knew that I am entering a respectable country. The taxi man who took me to Wist Al Balad (=centre of the city) refused to take money saying that I am his guest. The hotel manager told me that he loves Iraqis and introduced me to that Iraqi who aided me to exchange money with the best price, find the type of food I needed, and a kilo of Jordanian apples and gave some advices about what to do and what not to do. His advices proved to be the best as time was passing by in Philadelphia.

I was bruised and battered I couldn’t
tell what I felt I was
unrecognizable to myself
I saw my
reflection in the window I didn’t
know my own face oh brother
gonna leave me wasting away
in the streets of Philadelphia

On the exam, I was asked about Baghdad, and what mental illnesses do we have the most. We talked about PTSD and resilience. The wave of speech went little far to touch the shores of some hidden feelings when I was asked at the end of the exam: “Now would you go back to Baghdad?” I was planning that I take a plane to visit my family after those years but my family didn’t manage to send me the papers I need for the visa. “Yes, I would go back tomorrow”. I left the exam room and headed for the bath room cause I thought I needed total isolation from others. I locked the door on me for few minutes, enough to go out with my faked smile.

I walked in the avenue till my legs
Felt like stone and I heard
Voices of friends vanished and gone
At night I could
Hear the blood in my veins
It is black and whispering as the rain
On the streets of Philadelphia

The next day from the exam my colleague wanted to go to the hospital where we took our exam and ask for the results. He wanted me to go with him but I didn’t want to. “It is too early, they won’t tell us the results only after at least few days” I said but he insisted to go. I told him that I want to visit the Roman Theatre. He took a taxi, I went walking. People were not that different from Baghdad, but the view of buildings on those mountains was unusual to my eyes. I liked how most of those building were built from stone. On the turning away from that main street I saw her, a vagabond with long black hair chasing the children that were calling her bad names. I reached the Roman theatre to see Philadelphia (=old name of Amman) and Hercules temple above that mountain, Amman with all her historical charm.

Ain’t no angel gonna greet me
Just you and I my friend
My clothes don’t fit me no more
I walked a thousand miles
just to slip the skin

My colleague came from the hospital annoyed that they didn’t give him any result, and annoyed that I didn’t accompany him. He started ventilating his worries and suppressions on my ears which were getting filled every about 15 minutes so I take them off, my ears, and empty them in the streets of Philadelphia to get them filled again with complaints about how much life is difficult and unfair. He even asked me finally before we turn with the street: “is it fair that an old man die in his bed from starvation?” I didn’t want to hear that story. But he insisted: “is it fair tell me?”. “No it is not” I said while we walked near that same vagabond who was now smoking Najela and giggling. As we turned left we saw police, two cars stopped at the centre of the street and a man lying on the street covered from head till lower legs, his feet were looking at us. He seemed dead. As I noticed that, I felt for a fraction of a second that I may fall on the ground. I took hold of myself and walked while my companion found it interesting to stop and watch. I went to the hotel alone and lie in the bed wondering what to do in this cold evening.

Night has fallen I am lying awake
I can
feel myself fading away
so receive me brother with your
faithless kiss or will we
leave each other alone like this
In the streets of Philadelphia

At night my companion came to my room and said that he is “sorry for being insensitive this evening” and he offered that we go to a mall he had visited a year ago in the centre of Amman. We went and it was huge and wonderful. We walked in all its parts and enjoyed its peace and quietness. We took dinner while we were having a nice chat finally.


Laura said...

What a torrent of feelings to have lived through in such a short period of time, Sami. I'm sorry you were unable to visit your family, and that you couldn't have a real vacation. Seems like these breaks are just long enough to let you become aware of just how much stress you're under all the time....

Stay safe dear.

saminkie said...

Hi Laura, yes these few days an Iraqi would spend in any peaceful city abroad would made him/her stop at the edge of nervous breakdown as s/he would leave his defenses used in Iraq, as if taking off an armor, being free again from too much supression, and oops, a bout of crying may takes the one. Any way visiting Amman was calming at the end. Thanks for your care dear friend.

tracy said...

Thank you for a most wonderful post, Sami. i am so sorry things have not been going well, you must be so tired and sounds like you are feeling down. i hope you feel much better soon, my friend.
Much love and respect,

PS i love both the movie and song of "Philadelphia"

saminkie said...

Yes Tracy I was feeling down a little but you know what, by reading your kind words I do feel much much better. Thanks Tracy. Much love and respect.

I love the song very very much, I have seen the film once but I would try to see it again. Thanks for remembering me of that.