THURSDAY : (Entering Baghdad)
I left Amman in a nice sunny day, booked my flight - boarded my plane, the flight took an hour and a little more, everything went so smoothly, but the minute I stepped down of the plane I was immeidately whipped on the head by the unmistakable stench of Iraqi heat - a mixture of scroching hot sun, a rotten humid underscore that makes you want to grab the razors and even more scorching heat - It hit unapologetically and very buddy-like, and I immediately secretly wished that I would never be here.
and hereby begins the mockery of Iraqi Airport System.
half-hour long passport queues, messy customs, and my taxi driver gets sick of waiting and bails. I was expecting it, but it's never really the same except once you live it.
After another half-hour of fighting over taxis, which culminated in a second fight after we got the taxi because I rode with two dudes I don't know who happened to go to the same place (see how desperate) who refused to tip the taxidriver, ergo, of course, no taxi ever goes to the inside of Adhamiya anymore so he dropped me off at Nidaa mosque, the nearest placemark.
On the way, I took a glimpse of the forlorn streets of Baghdad, it was actually better than I expected, as the half-empty streets contained fragments of human presence every now and then, and the streets were busy and hectic - but I was told that this was because of the fact that it was Thursday, last day of the week.
I reached home, after a customary kiss-and-tell, the electricity went off. the generator was out of fuel so I had to refill from a half-filled 20-liters can, oh well, here we begin.
FRIDAY: I woke up, washed, dressed, then hit the mosque prayer, Friday was a curfew so nobody went by car, and since I went a bit late the street was empty, but not that EMPTY! it was desolate, like some scene from a Western movie. For the first time since I don't remember, the mosque wasn't filled to the brim...I actually managed to pray inside the mosque's actual building and not the courtyard, a first in god-knows-when. and I actually managed to listen to the speech this time!
When I got back home, Grandma Ta'iffiya already let loose of the friendly gossip of the latest death casualities on the civillian war front, check this sadly tragic story: A poor boy merchant who sells groceries is killed at the mostly Shi'ite district of Kamm, the grocery market on the outskirts of Adhamiya, while heading to the cemetery, the van has a tragic accident and the uncle dies, a week later, another son is kidnapped then killed, naturally. They make it to the cemetery this time, but the father looks upon the three tombs and then falls flat on top of them lifeless out of misery and shame, the mother, hearing this, goes into semi-paralysis and is still at the hospital.
This story alone is worth a post by itself, it is stories like these that make me curse our glorious nation indefinitely and take out an AK-47 and just kill about everyone in sight.
Disgusted with it all, I pretend to read for my upcoming final exam - which is a week soon.
SATURDAY: American vehicles have been passing sparodically at noon from our relatively uninteresting street. I spend the day refilling our two generators and buying fuel from a home-delivery gasoline dude. We buy 65 liters for 60 I.D.
At night, a bullet flies out of nowhere and breaks the lower glass pane in Grandparents' living room; triggering a plethora of jumping and squealing before start a body count and find out everyone's all right.
SUNDAY: I spend the day re-arranging Grandparents living room furniture, with the beds AWAY from the window as possible. American activity outside is increasing while I hear rumors of a crackdown tomorrow.
On a more cheery note, I finally have a pretext for walking half-naked around the house, which is something I couldn't do in normal-hot Amman and with five guys around in a small appartment, yay!
MONDAY: American soldiers close down the street and proceed to search an entire side of the streets while totally neglecting the other side (our side), this is apparently the case on all streets. They get into a house for like 10 minutes, stare around, ask about weapons, then put a small flag on your front door and go to the next house.
TUESDAY: I wake up, go to the kitchen, and before you know it, just when I leave the kitchen, the house is filled with born-and-bred Star-spangled Americans, along with four usual dirty policemen, they spend a confused two minutes at the living room, while two or three search the nearby rooms, a policeman tries to touch my guitar, while another US soldier finds out a book about CIA and gets unreasonably excited. They find out that Gpa was military ambassador at the US in the 50s and go nuts. when asked for weapons, Gpa whips out his 1950s revolver, they shrug and write no guns; we've already hid all the other weapons somewhere nice.
5 minutes after they leave, I dress in prepartaion for going to college, to find out that my mobile was stolen!
Apparently, one of the police commanders stole it while I wasn't looking - my phone looks very fancy (a Siemens X, called in Iraq the Scissors cuz of its extra keyboard and the way it folds) but is actually dirt cheap, anyway, I tried calling it but to no avail.
Tried going to college but after a very sweaty 15 minutes of walking I am sent back home by a nervous national guard who stops me halfway through the street.
WEDENSDAY: I call my phone, a man with a very crude southern accent picks up after several rings and tell me not to call again or he will 'tear my ass'. Later that day, during a series of prank-calls in which we lost it a little, a neighbor calls up my number and tells the nice policeman that we have known all about him and his unit number and we will not rest until we fry onions on his bare naked bottom. I mimicked sounds of a US soldier in the back, the guy was as silent and nice as little girl on her first day of primary school.
Anyway, it was still not worth the trouble of tracking him down, although Adhamiya residents in general enjoy any clash with the Police commanders, so I called the mobile company and had the SIM card deactivated.
Electricity has been absent for 10 days.
Life in the past week has made me confirm many deductions which I have wished to God that will not come true, From the moment I felt the harsh, cruel wind slap me like an angry mother punishing her child for being so late to come home to the moment I am writing these words to you in a small net cafe which is the only shop open in a dark, scary street with no cars and small nearby children playing football, a once glowing, lively street with people that were living in a small world all of their own, I am filled with an immeasurable sense of loss and hate, HATE at everyone who took up an official seat and blurted words beyond a microphone. I am positive that my faith in my country has been shattered beyond repair once and for all...living in Iraq, you don't know how much of a mockery that statement is, life in Iraq is little beyond shadowy representations of life as you know it, it is madhalla, humilliation, I feel sorry for anyone who cannot leave this fucking shithole forever.
Yet sometimes, a strange delusion creeps up to my being, at times when I innocently forget about the hardships of life and the cruetly of time and laugh at a dirty joke with my neighbors, we are transported in a space-time continum in a dilirium of stupid happiness, when I fondly play soccer with the neighborhood kids while the local teenage mosque guards are about 10 steps away from us, holding their tense shotguns and pretending to be our saviors.
The last time I wished I could stay in Iraq was when I went to college, I met many friends who I haven't seen in months, we laughed, we cuddled, we talked girls, movies and football like the old days, and it was this that I really wanted, the way everyone should live - but even there in my enclosed atmosphere of the college, something sinister evokes the darkness, like the half-torn death sign of my four friends who were killed three months earlier, or the fact that half of our department are leaving abroad, including many college professors.
I am so full with despair and helplessnes - usually, I blurt out my anger with music, so I whipped out a Shi'ite latmia that never failed to move me, I don't dig the words, but the voice is incredibly mournful and is about the loss of the reverred Imam Ali, the Imam who was so fed up by his own Iraqi followers that he once said: 'Iraq is the land of shikakk and nifaak" (division and hypocrisy). I connect the bittersweet sadness that it invokes with the despair and confusion towards my own homeland, Bassim al-Karbalie should do our national anthem.
" I wish that on that day I was there
and neareth thine shrine I would renew my oath
and I will hold a ceremony for your tragedy and mourn thee
and cry like women who lost their sons on your loss in despair
Yet, I forgot you not, I live in your memory
My being from the distance of separation, O Aba al-Hassan, calls."