Monday, October 31, 2011

Nose Compass

Ka was investigated by Kadife, the sister of the woman he is foolishly in love with. She drew a pistol and asked him to take off his clothes, piece by piece, and she searched his clothes with her "delicate hands". She was searching for microphones and wires. Her apologies followed. Then it was time to take Ka to meet Blue. Blue hides in a secret place, so their trip to Blue secret lodgment would be highly secretive. I was reading that on my way to arrange some papers in a governmental department in central Baghdad. I was already searched for holding an explosive belt in the entrance to the bus station. As we have learned since 2003 we would stop crucified in front of the guards who usually pass their hands fast on the contour of your body and concentrating on the back of our body, for it seems that the explosive belt can be caught from sensing that sight. On the first days after 2003 war I was feeling so estranged in front of such searching and I used to feel tickled by their hands. I'd even raised some suspicions when, few times, since years, I took a step back when the guard was about just to start the body search. The tickling didn't continue since I grew fatter and less sensitive.

I was body searched again, with the same mechanism, at the gate of the governmental department. When I entered that department that I had visited for the last time about 2 years ago, I was glad to see that it was renewed, with now many new benches and seats for the waiting citizens, many fans for the ventilation, and the more white walls. I went to the same window that I used to find my dossier in, and find it less crowded than ever. I was glad. Since I was talking to the clerk I started to feel strange. The clerk, a young slim girl who must be in her 20s and was non-veiled and reasonably made-up, told me to wait few seconds. While waiting I wondered why do I feel strange and caught the detail that that strange feeling was due to smelling a strange strong scent. My nose compass led me to the source after about a half minute of dizziness. The smell comes just next to my right feet. Poop. Yay. In the spot.

In today's Al-Mada newspaper there was a short story written by Nazar Abdul-Sattar. It was entitled: "He Loves that Odour". It fixed my day complexion. It started with that cleaner leaving her job in a non-specified governmental department. As usual, she must be body searched before leaving to prevent her stealing things from the department. The police woman who used to body search her hates her and that is said frankly in their daily conversation. The police woman hates that cleaner and always reminds her that she is found often sleeping with other male cleaners. And reminds her often of how many times she was found to smuggle tea-bags in her bra. The police woman is irritated also by that man, who used to wait the cleaner in the gate of the department, a man, who is neither husband nor relative. Today the police woman was about to search the cleaner's bra when a black bag caught her attention. The cleaner was so shy to reveal what was in there. The police woman said triumphed: "A panty!". The police woman started interrogating our poor cleaner asking whether she is now going outside wearing no panty. She even tried to pass her hands under our poor cleaner's skirt. The cleaner was about to cry when finally revealed that that man who used to wait for her is her lover and that they did it yesterday on phone and he asked her to give her panty as a souvenir, because he likes its odour. Our cleaner added that she is now wearing another clean panty.
The short story's narration is clever and perfect. I would understand its core idea as the privacy invasion in our eastern society where the concept of personal space is not maturely developed. The cleaner's innocence and weakness is so evident and sad. She is especially weak in front of the police. She doesn't know her rights. The writer's insight is trust worthy enough that I will read anything he will write in the future. His name need to be remembered: Nazar Abdul-Sattar. Nazar Abdul-Sattar's boldness reminded me of psychological books, and I don't know really why (how much I wish the story is translated to English so that you can read it). The dialogue between the two women is a kind of dialogue that we, men, don't hear. Since our society is highly sexually divided with many walls and taboos between the two sexes, I wondered how it was difficult for a male writer, from Iraq, to write such a dialogue and wondered how fictional vs. realistic it was.
Fictional it was or realistic, I found my daily life more vivid and complex than my days in the last year in Algeria. I am back to Iraq where I can think easily and can find things that provoke thinking and writing in me. I have even started again to cook and to enhance my cooking abilities. Broccoli soup was delicious today. It is September and I buy pomegranates daily. I don't know what is in common between the pomegranate smell and the smell of coffee, but I can be sure that I like to eat pomegranate slowly when I wake up from my long siesta (in Baghdad I regained that habit of sleeping more than an hour at noon because of the noisy streets in the morning) while coffee is being prepared and their aromas (pomegranate and coffee) mixes.

What about Snow? As you remember Ka had to meet Blue. He must not be seen heading to his secret lodgment. A horse-drawn carriage came. Ka was told to hide under the canmvas that is usually used to cover the goods the carriage delivers. He didn't know that he would lie next to Kadife:

"Without a word, he lay down next to Kadife among the empty propane canisters.
The journey, which he knew at once he would never forget, lasted only eight minutes, but to Ka it seemed much longer. As he wondered where in the city they were, he listened to the people of Kars commenting on the creaking carriage moving past them, and he listened to Kadife's steady breathing as she lay quietly next to him. A gang of boys caught the tail of the carriage and were pulled along with them for a while. He liked the sweet smile Kadife gave him; it made him as happy as those boys."

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