Wednesday, April 25, 2007

No Comment ..

Sometimes, a photo can tell a whole story.
I would have just added (No Comment) and posted this, but couldn’t help but take in all the details.. and write a few lines..
The traditional tiles (Cashi) of the kitchen floor, the old, multi colored drawers and cupboards, the traditional plastic Dolka, the traditional Jidir..slightly burnt.. a whole world of daily innocent life..
Then the 3 women, the way their heads bent in fear, taking refuge in the innocence of their babies.. fear that is just beyond description, fear they have never experienced before.... where else to go? This soldier has violated even the simple safety of their own small home, of their own small kitchen.. with his ugly military boots .. he didn’t spare them even that.. searching inside the drawer for what?? Hidden rifles?? Or maybe for Weapons of Mass Destruction!?..
What to call this photo?? Fear? Beastly war?? Occupation?? Iraq today??
Not a thousand word article would be able to describe this photo..
Make sure to take in all the details .. (try to magnify each part of the photo, I did) ..
For no reason but being ordinary Iraqi people, living in Iraq.. right now.. this poor family had to go and have to go through this, and maybe much more worse, every day, at any time .. day or night..
It’s a photo from Iraq, Iraqna.. Yes, the same one we once lived in ..
Sadness is just too short a word.. Pain is beyond belief..

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

My Bebee (El - Hijjiyya)..

This is in memory of my Bebee, who in my opinion was a Very special lady.
She was widowed very young and raised her 5 children all by herself, she worked in making clothes so as to afford that they finish their studies in university..
I had a special relation with my Bebee,I was the only one among my sisters who would go to spend many days (Abat) b bet bebetee.. i loved going there, to Abat.. I m privileged to do whatever pleases me when im at bebee's..
Bet el Hijjiyya was an old house..with a big garden in front , green Thayyal I remember , high old trees. In summer Karasee el Nylon would b set in a circle, as we and my aunts and cousins would all gather at night to visit Bebee, especially on Thursdays.. there was a small garden in the back too, with a Very big shajarat Nabogh, we used to gather the delicious fallen fruit, as it was too high to reach, and sit eating it in front of the old black and white TV.
Her bedroom was another world, I can now see it with all the details, her bed to the left, the window to the right overseeing the garden, a collection of her many trips to Mekka decorated one of the walls, the window had a very wide Dachcha , I used to hide there behind the curtains playing all kinds of games, princess stuff and all.. i would sit there for hours, not wishing to come out..
I was also allowed to open her closet, and take out her personal things, which were very few in fact ..i especially liked an old bright green handbag which she must' ve bought tens of years ago, I loved hanging it in my arm pretending to b a grown up..
She was very religious, I was told that she used to do (Azama) and (Ruqia) in her young days ..she spent her time in reading Quran, with a beautiful colorful peacock feather for a bookmark inside, that's how I remember her (Allah yerhamha) in her last years..very thin and petite , her grey hair parted in the middle with 2 thin Thofayer ..
She had my oldest aunt living with her on the first floor, my youngest aunt and her husband on the 2nd..(but we always called it Bet el Hijjiyya) ..
Ghurfat el Akel was Vey large, rarely used, with a Big table , and Huge chairs..i especially loved breakfast, when my aunt and her husband would come down, the room would fill with Swalef, laughter and morning chat, my older aunt used to make me a sandwich with butter and sugar in it (beleive it or not , and I used to love it !!) ..a triangular sandwich , half a Sammoona.. it was always a joyful time.. up till this day I love the Reyoogh meal the most, maybe because I have happy memories of it..It was a house full of love and warmth..
In her last years she got very ill and couldn’t leave her bed, I remember how we used to all go visit her and gather around in her bedroom, I have photos of her, attending our birthdays, accompanying us in our travels.. we all loved her so much, Allah yerhamha..
When she passed away, the house was sold, and my aunts moved to a smaller and more modern one ..I once went to visit the place, driving through the old street, tabaan Bet Bebee existed no more, a trading company or something was built in its place, the whole street was different eyes kept searching for the old Hadiqa , the short stairs and the wooden inner gate.. and the memories of my early childhood with Bebee..

May her soul rest in peace.. Ameen..

Sunday, April 15, 2007


I think its Qiddah time now in Baghdad ..
Betna was in a street which used be covered with Qiddah in April..the houses lieing on both sides of it, had so many Ashjar Protuqal and Narenje.. the scent once you start walking down the street was incredible.. it was a great big Festival.. Qiddah Festival .. small scented petals covering every spot of the street, the small neat gardens attached to the doorsteps, on the walkways leading to the inside of the houses..the flower beds, Hadiqtna, every inch was buried with wonderful perfumed pearly white petals..
And though Neesan was a month for unpredictable weather, and dust storms , I loved the world when it came to visit.. cause it would bring with it Reehat el Qiddah ..
The world, my world at that time of the year would turn into something else, a certain joy always engulfed me , I would be in a good mood almost all the time, and nothing can really upset me, i would have the feeling thatsomething happy is about to happen..the world would be shining, Baghdad would be shining ..
Coming back from work, walking down Sharaena , inhaling the magnificent scent , I would walk with careful steps , watching where i put my foot, I wouldn’t want to step over the white petals.. at that time my sister and many of my friends were out of iraq, I would gather a handful of the white petals , and wrap them in with the letter I would be sending, and I would think happily of their faces when they open the envelope and smell the magic scent , I knew how much they would b missing Qiddah..out there, in their Ghurba..
As I remember that now, I try to think of who is left from my family back there.. who would send me Qumshat Qiddah to smell and bury my face in ..No body really ..besides, no mail service is left there now..
We once had a life.. now when I think back , my God , we once had a life..all the flowers of the world would not replace Qiddah for me neither now nor ever..the wonderful fragile pearly flower..
What would I give for just a few petals ..?! how much would i give..?!
Do they still have Qiddah in Baghdad?? Does Sharaena lie covered with it these days?? Its Neesan ..
I feel im going to cry.. I better go..

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Jisr Al- Sarrafeyya

I don’t know what to say with this new disaster..Jisr el sarrafeya and what it means to all of us iraqiyeen .. with all its memories.. its like its been there in its place since eternity.. who of us doesn’t have a memory of some kind attached to it ?? .. the oldest bridge in Bgahdad..WHY !!
It always gave me a feeling of strength and kindness at the same time .. like a Very big (Hodhon).. i always felt like it has arms that embrace me when i pass over it..i almost felt it was smiling at me .. laying still on Dijla..
Strange thing is no matter how hard I tried to remember the details I couldn’t .. just bits and pieces.. noticing how low Maiy Dijla has become in summer and the words( oh yes, this year its v hot.. ofcourse the water is so if it was ever cool in summer in baghadad..
When we used to go to bet Amtee we had to cross Sarrafeya bridge.. so its memory is always attached with going to bet Amtee.. strangely enough just 2 days ago I wrote ab the looong trip to Adhameya..we felt (as kids) it was so long, that me and my sister would sit in the back seat of the car backwards, with our faces facing the back window of the car kneeling on our knees on the back (Coshen) and start singing Alll the Anasheed we memorize to pass the time till we arrive to bet Amtee .. poor mom and dad..and on the way back, we always fell asleep in the back on the trip back home..
trip to Adhameya..Why cant I remember its details ?? details of the way to Adhameya from our house?? Strange the only that comes to mind is Qabor Zobayda.. with its strange design..
Nothing else I can remember..
Seeing half of it down in water, i felt like my hopes in going back one day has sunk down with the dark depths of the river..
i dont know if i shall publish this..
i feel my heart will break ..

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Natheeer Yathoooqo El Asala

My nieces r getting ready for their exams , and as im kind of involved in their studying , I get to go through their school books, this of course brings to mind: (Dar Daran, Doooor..).. Al Qiraa al Khaldooneya..
Its very strange how sometimes the oldest of memories is the part that stays fresh in our minds.. my old school I can still see, with its orange small tiles at the entrance terrace (like in many of the old buildings in Baghdad) and its wooden inner gate.. the teachers I had.. Set Naseema was my first teacher.. she was old, a bit fat, with short cut grey almost white hair..i don’t know why I used to fear her.. though I think she was a kind person ..She would stand next to the black board pointing out with her ruler explaining to us about Asharat and Aahad ..oh and (Al Fariza) was such an agony..!!
I remember one day (el Wajib) homework was to write I don’t know how many times the new subject of Harf el Thaaaal : Natheeer Yathoooqo el Asala sister, 3 years older, and so having a better handwriting , volunteered to do the Wajib for me, I can still see her, sitting on the Dachcha of Shobbak el Hall , hiding behind the Organza curtains , my copybook on her lap, doing my homework for me, I stood watching at the Hall door, in case my mom wakes up from her nap and catches us..!!
There is one Very special Lady whom I still remember and honestly Wish I could meet with her after all these years, or at least know something about her.. that is Set Methal..
She first came as Reyadha teacher.. I never cared for sport at that age really.. it was just another lesson.. but when Set Methal appeared in our school Reyatha became something else.. she would take us all, the pupils of (Shoeba) , in imaginary tours around the school yard, 2 after 2 after 2 in a looong Queue .. singing (thnene thnen , Zenjeelen) .. suddenly she would say in a warning voice: There 's an Alligator hiding next.. shush, be silent.. and we would walk silently, carefully,in fear and in awe, so as not to attract the Alligator's attention, our little hearts pounding.. then she would smile and say : OK , we r safe.. and we would exhale in relief and start laughing once more..
She would make us cross lakes , climb mountains and hills, every thing that comes to mind, aaall in the school back and front yard....and the wonderful thing is , we believed her.. every word she said was True.. there would b an Alligator waiting, there would b a dangerous wild river to cross.. we not only believed her, not only obeyed her.. we simply adored her.. she had such a wonderful character, and a great imagination.. we loved her so amazing person indeed.. full of life and imagination and creativity..
Afterwards she got involved in more school activities like planning the end of shool year Celebration, she guided us to start a small library in class (each one of us would bring a story book, I brought one of Al Maktaba al Khadhraa story books.. el Malek aboo Lehya I think it was..) ..
After a while we heard that she left to England with her family .. that was in the seventies..(though nobody left iraq at that time ..)

To the dear dear sweet Set Methal , who filled our school days with sheer joy, childish happiness and colored dreams, where ever she is now,, Alf alf Taheyya..

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Bet Byoot..

When we were kids, in summer time , my parents as they both were working at the time and not wanting to leave us home alone, would take me and my sister through a long trip to Adhameya where my aunt' s house is, then come pick us up after work.. Adhameya seemed such a faaar place at the time.. entertainment in Amtee's house included many items..
They had swings in their garden ( marajeeh men sodogh!!) .. so we and my cousins would take turns.. I remember how I once fell off and the marjooha banged me on my forehead..
When my parents first drop us, the garage of bet Amtee would be cool and nice early in the day, so this would b the time for Tookee.. i never got to finish, dont know why..
They had a (Taarma) like most of the Baghdadi houses, we would sit in it for hours.. to avoid the heat .. their Taarma was always fun to sit in, with the cool breeze..and we would sit and chat .. silly, innocent chat.. there was also at the time the game of (Tobat) , 2 small balls (Chibin, was it??) which we would try to handle both at a time , i remember it had certain stages (Tappee, Dooraa..) then play with coins, forgot what was the name of that game, we would throw the coin in the air, then try to catch it between 2 of our fingers, in which fingers they get caught decides what this person will b, Jallad, or.. or what ?? my God I forgot the rules of the game.. that used to bring big fights , cause the one who doesn’t get lucky, disagrees with the result and so a fight starts and the shouts (Khalas, Ma alaab baad) reaches Amtee's ears and she would come out and try to solve the problem..
When it gets too hot to sit in Tarmaa in the fiery sun of Tammooz as the noon comes nearer, we would then go inside .. time to play Bet Byoot..
Their Ghurfat el Khottar (guest room ) had 2 couches – Qanafat next to each other.. so we would bring a small charchaf (Sheet)and we would cover the (Yaddat of the 2 Qanafas) with the charchaf and crawl inside.. that would b our home ..
I don’t know why , my older cousin always chose to be Khabbaz !! why Khabbaz, that was always beyond me..he would choose this profession every single time we played.. he would wrap the other smaller charchaf around his waist, puts a small Araqcheen on his head and calls out loudly : im now going to work ..(rayeh lel shoghol) .. I remember I always stayed home !! was I the one to cook ? I cant remember .. why did I forget so many details ??!!.. I can almost see place with my eyes right now..
We all grew up together .. but now , as all iraqiyeen, no one seems to live in the same country anymore .. let alone in the same continent!!
I had a photo once.. of course I left it in Baghdad with all the photos that hold our memories and beloved ones.. it was in black and white .. a birthday of one of us in our house ..ev body laughing so hard..laughs of innocence and not a care in the world , my Bebe (el Hijjiya) sitting in the middle ..i looked at the photo, ev one is now in a different place..UK, Jordan, Holland, UAE, Yemen, USA, only few of them r in Iraq still.. v few.... and my Bebe has passed away many years back of course..
I now envy the family who have relatives living next to them .. we don’t have that anymore.. I think this what makes us always feeling Ghurba.. we went on with our lives, we made friends of our own, but there is nothing like Ahal ..cousins especially.. cause they r the ones u get to grow up with..
Even Bet Amtee exists no more.. I don’t even know for sure if it has been sold out or just rented or what.. as nobody left to live in it..
But Bet Byoot will always linger on in my mind..

PS: my cousin did not become Khabbaz after all, he is now a Senior in his profession..

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

EL Maktaba el Khadhraa and the Russian Cartoons

When my niece watches cartoons, she would answer whoever talks to her absentmindedly with her eyes glued to the screen.. sometimes I would stay and watch what she s watching.. new cartoons are now on .. new characters, new heroes, Timmy Turner , el Jasoosat, the Bratz, (there r new heroines now too) !!.. apart from the violent type which I can never watch.. it always make me feel like I come from a different age, or a different planet that is..
Nothing like our days.. I specifically liked the Russian cartoons , beautiful stories about good values .. I can still hear the man 's voice translating the story for us in sweet Egyptian dialect in simple words, taking us into another magic world filled with astonishingly beautiful events and characters,, my favorites were El Bint wel Feel, where the little girl gets sick in bed and only the elephant (el feel) would bring back her smile , (yes indeed her father brings the circus into their house so she can get better!) Mashka, the little ballerina whose broche (not sure its the right word in english) is stolen by a crow, only a short while before her big day, the beautiful princess who cuts off her beautiful looong (thofayer) to disguise as a man in order to save her husband captured by the enemies , I remember the name Zababa Pootateshna, was it her name?? or a russian word? Don’t know really.. the little Indian girl who does the tiger a favor and he pays her back by locking her in the cage .. she would say in her sweet sad voice : howwa fee adl fee donya walla mafeesh..?? .. there s also One cartoon which was I thought v sad .. A Penguin mother who leaves her egg with a neighbor, the egg falls off the icy hill , so the neighbor replaces it with a rock in the shape of an egg (v complicated I know) .. the mother comes back and keeps waiting for the baby penguin to come out .. but the egg-rock never cracks, then the penguin herd starts to move as the snow starts to melt .. the mother penguin stays , waiting , they all leave but her .. the cartoon ends with her drowning in the melting snow as she clings to the egg – rock.. how sad .. in fact v heart breaking .. but its so live in my mind..
Cartoons were full of beautiful meanings. , values, romance ..just like the stories of (El Maktaba el Khadhraa) .. Anyone remembers that?? All the good stories of Christian Hanz Anderson .. the Wild Swans .. The Nightingale.. The Little Mermaid, The Little Match Seller .. and others.. Such great imagination.. wonderful stories..
My mother would always bring us stories of el maktaba el khadhra to read in our first years in school..
I wonder if those stories still exist nowadays .. or have they just disappeared.. like all the beautiful things we once had and grew up with ..
To those who recognize some of the above mentioned stories - memories , u can visit :

Enjoy ..