Sunday, 20 May 2007
يفتح عينيه ليجد السماء خلعت ثوبها الاسود المثقوب بالنجوم وارتدت حلة زرقاء، يقفز من فراشه مسرعا لينزل الدرج ثملؤه لهفة و شوق لما هو ات، يسرع باتجاه المطبخ و يرتمي في احضان جدته، يسمع هسيس الهواء في صدرها المنخور بالتبغ المحلي، تفترش (جودليتها) يجلس بجنبها و هي تحضر شاي الصباح المهيل على (چولتها) و يسمعها تردد بألم و حسرة ... تگلي المسعدة الغرشة بطليها چا لو هاجت نار گلبي أبيش أطفيها،
ينتظر جده بفارغ الصبر لينتهي من ارتداء عقاله و شماغه بلونيه المتقاطعين الابيض و الاسود، ينضم اخوه اليه في رحلة الانتظار هذه، يقبلهما الجد و يمسك بيد كل منهما بيديه، يحس بخشونة يد جده المنحوتة بالشقوق و هي تمسك بيده الطرية التي لم تطأ معترك الحياة بعد، تعتريهما غبطة عندما يمرون عبر أزقة حيهم الهادىء في ذلك الصباح التموزي الدافىء.
يصل الى دكان ابو ياس الرجل العجوز صديق جده ، تتفتق اساريره فرحا عندما يناولهما (جكليت و حامض حلو)،بعد احاديث قصيرة يشتري الجد لهما بسكت (بسكولاتة ) و نستلة (ابو العبد) و لا تكتمل نشوتهما الا بعد ان ياخذ كل منهما فطعة من الكرتون توزعت عليها و بشكل متساو صور لا عبي المنتخب الوطني، ذخيرتهما للعبة ( التصاوير) فور العودة الى البيت، ما زال يتذكر بوضوح تلك الصور الضارب لونها على الزرقة الفاتحة: حسن فرحان، فيصل عزيز، هادي احمد، علاء أحمد، دگلص عزيز، محمد طبرة، كاظم وعل، فلاح حسن.
يتوجهان بعدها مع الجد الى سوق الكبيسي نحو فرن الصمون الحجري. كغيرهم من سكان بغداد لا يستذوقون صمون الاعاشة (الاوتوماتيكي). يبدا بالتعرق بانتظارتلك العجائن الصغيرة و هي تنتفخ و تحمـرّ تحت وطأة النار المنبعثة من المشعل النفطي في ذلك الكهف الحجري المتواري عميقا في جوف الحائط، يتلذذ بالتقاط اول الصمونات الخارجة من جحيم الفرن، يلتقطها بكلتي يديه حيث تأخذ بالتقلب كسمكة تتقافز في شبكة صياد من شدة سخونتها حتى يضعها في سلة جده.
عند العودة يسلكان طريق الشارع الموازي لسكة القطار، يسيرون ببطء بجنب السكة المرتفعة قليلا و يتوجه بنظره بعيدا نحو الافق بانتظار قدومه، يسحب يديه من قبضة جده و يسرع نحوالقضبان المددة ينحني بوجهه الى الارض، يلامس خده حديد السكة الناعم، ينتظر سماع ازيز العربات القادمة ، ينتظر الشارة بنشوة عارمة، يتراءى له من بعيد كثعبان يتلوى ببطء، يسمع فحيح عرباته المجنزرة، يخرج هو و اخيه كل منهم قطعة (عشر فلوس)يضعانها على القضبان بانتظار مرور القطار فوقهما.
يتراجعان نحو الجد الواقف الى البعيد قليلا، يرقبان بفضول مرور القطار، يقبل ببطء و غنج، ابواب العربات مفتحة ووجوه قاتمة تقبع خلف الشبابيك، جنود يقفون عند ابواب الفارگونات المكتظة، بدا قريبا جدا الان، مر فوق قطعهم النقدية، اسرع هو و اخيه نحو السكة مرة اخرى، القى نظرة اخيرة على القطار المحمل بالاسرار و هو يختفي شيئا فشيئا لتبتلعه احياء المدينة الصاخبة، يتفحص ما الت اليه قطعته المعدنية، يمرر اصبعه على وجهها، ملساء كخد طفل رضيع، تتملكه فرحة غامرة... يلتفت بوجهه يسارا نحو جده، يرتطم وجهه بزجاجة ملساء هي الاخرى، تتوالى من خلالها حقول خضراء ممتدة و بحيرات ماء ذي زرقة صافية و بيوت متناثرة هنا و هناك، امامه تجلس فتاة شقراء بتنورة قصيرة تكشف عن ساقين بيضاويين كثلج ناصع، اصابعها تتنقل بانسياب على لوحة مفاتيح حاسوبها كمن يعزف قطعة موسيقية على الة بيانو، بجانب الحاسوب قدح قهوة من الورق المقوى كتب عليه (ستاربكس). التفت يمينا، رأى عجوز و زوجها مع ابنتهما و بنتها يتسامرون بصوت هادىء. أرجع رأسه ليستند على زجاج النافذة و غاب بصره في الحقول الخضراء النضرة و اللا متناهية، عاد الى البيت مغمورا بما تضم سلة الجد مما تتوق له نفسه، فتحها لم يجد تصاويره و الصمون الحجري الساخن و نستلة( ابو العبد)، انما عشرة أعوام من التسكع على أرصفة المنافي، كتاب طبي، صحيفة ليست بلغته و أوراق من دائرة الهجرة تقول... سنسمح لك مؤقتا بالبقاء هنا و يمنع عليك ان تعود الى ( هناك)... لن اعود الى (تصاويري) و سلة جدي و صدر جدتي المنخور. أخرج الصحيفة و أخذ يبحث عن أي خبر من (هناك)... جسر يتفجر ويتهدم و جدار عازل ينتصب ووو.... أخذ يدندن بصوت خافت..
ضلعي أحسه المنكسر
موش الجسر، يحزام دجله يلالي حدره الماي
يمصافحة صوبين ما مل الرصافه الكرخ
من وكت الزغر
أنتبهت الفتاة الجالسة امامه لهذيانه، سكت و عاد لهدوئه و أمال رأسه نحو النافذة وبدأ يجتر الوطن و ما تبقى من فتات المنفى و عادت هي تنقر على حاسوبها لا تأبه لتصاويره و صمونه و صدر جدته المنخور. أغمض عينيه و سافر بعيدا نحو الدفء و امتطى صهوة القطار المغادر الى المحطة العالمية في (العلاوي)، ألقى نظرة اخيرة على الساقين البيضاويين أمامه و الحقول الخضراء عبر الزجاج و عاد (يون)
يا ريل طلعوا دغش
و العشگ چذابي
دگ بيه طول العمر ما يطفه عطابي
نتوالف ويه الدهر
و هودر هواهم ولك حدر السنابل گطه.
Monday, 14 May 2007
Unlike many of my teenage dreams that have been smashed on the rock of our cruel world, this one came true and not only once but fortunately twice. It was back in 1988 when I first listened to Pink Floyd music and since then their musical talent, Waters’ lyrics-writing professionalism and Gilmour’s warm mellow guitar playing captivated me. For me, listening passionately to PF music is an experience, which dramatically altered my appreciation for Rock music for years to come. May be I am not lucky enough to be one of the 60s or 70s generations who grew up with their music but their pearl albums of the 70s relentlessly and progressively “rock” you to the bone. And that was exactly what happened to me last night at the Earls Court venue when my friend and I went to see Roger Waters live performance. Twelve years ago and at the same venue, PF (Gilmour, Wright and Mason) performed their last infamous PULSE show still remembered for its extraordinary sound and light effects.
The doors opened at 6:00 pm and our seats were in block two, not very far from the stage but unfortunately not right in front of it. We sat there waiting patiently for Roger and the band to start. The stage was already set and all the instruments were ready and plugged. Bob Dylan’s music was filling the venue. on the screen at the back of the stage, a surrealistic picture showing a fifties-style, wooden made radio with big rounded knobs, a bottle of whiskey and ashtray in front of it. A small toy of World War-Two aeroplane was placed over the radio. This picture kept dead silent until around 7:00 pm when some life has been blown into it. Someone is sitting back there smoking but you can’t see anything from him but his hand frequently changing the stations. His cigarette on the ashtray and a smoke-filled air in the room and 50s Rock’n Roll music started playing. Few minutes later it was followed by Jazz. At 7:30pm, everybody in the venue was eagerly expecting Roger Waters and the crew to walk in to the stage. I continued watching the screen behind. The hand moved again and we heard a male voice speaking Dutch I think, and I only understood the words “Radio Luxemburg”. Waters’ fans knew the influence that “Radio Luxumburg”has left on his career as a musician and lyricist when this radio station was launched in early 60s. Waters’ album “Radio K.A.O.S” was to some extent related these memories.
The venue lights faded way, the crowd is silently waiting and gradually the Dutch voice gave the way to a loud opera music and suddenly, like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the voice of Roger Waters and the noise of his band blew up the venue and broke the silence of the audience, singing “in the flesh”. Dressed in black with his Richard Gere-look-like face, Waters’ performance on the stage was astounding.
The first set of the show was dedicated to PF works from their heydays in the 70s with only two songs from his solo work. The second song was “Mother” from "the wall” album and featured Katie Kisson’s awesome voice. A flashback into Syd Barrett’s era came with the third song “set the control to the heart of the sun”. Three pearls from their “Wish You Were Here” diamond album followed: Shine on You Crazy Diamond, Have a Cigar and Wish You Were Here, respectively. Until now, the great guitar solos were alternating between two gifted guitarists, Dave Kilminster and Snowy White. However; with “Leaving Beirut” Andy FairweatherLow demonstrated his amazing talent on guitar together with Ian Ritchie on Tenor Sax.
“Southampton Dock” and “Fletcher’s Memorial Home” followed from “The Final Cut” album and again were amazing. The last song in the first set was “Sheeps” from “Animals” and the legendary Floyd’s giant pig was flying above our heads.
Fifteen minutes break separated the first set from “The Dark Side of The Moon” complete album. Nick Mason replaced Graham Broad on the Drums and reminded us of PF original band members. More visual techniques differentiate this show from last year’s Hyde Park one. And for the first time in years, the “Great Gig in the Sky” is performed by one female voice only, rather than the usual three female voices, this time by Carroll Kenyon. Harry Waters, Roger’ son, played Piano at this song and Jon Carin played almost all keyboards through out the second set and was the Lead Vocalist on “Us and Them”. While singing “The Lunatic” the infamous Prism of Light was shining until the end of the album. The encore consisted of three songs from “The Wall”: the Happiest Day of Our Lives, Vera and finally the unforgettable, eternal, mesmerising and magnificent “Comfortably Numb”.
And finally what can I say about last night: Three hours of extraordinary solid Progrock and limitless creative music I have experienced in a “Floyd’s Trip” with Roger Waters. Among many of DSOTM performances, I personally believe this was the “Darkest” and we all left the venue “comfortably numb”.
Sunday, 6 May 2007
It is not something like Romeo & Juliet or its Arabic version Qais Wa Layla. Not even a fictional story. It happened in the “new” and “free” “Democratic” Iraq. It all started when this seventeen-year-old girl fell in love with a man and decided to live with him. But what started as an innocent romance ended in a gruesome murder. Like the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, The scene was horrific. A crowd of long-bearded, bloodthirsty, revenge-seeking men with evil-looking eyes dragged Du’aa (or Do’aa in Kurdish) to face her destiny: Stoning To Death. The accusations were ready, Adultery, conversion to Islam and running away from her family with the man that she loved. Her uncle and cousin were among the crowd that took her life and were very proud of “getting rid of her shame”. The cams of many mobile phones recorded the crime and it is available now on Youtube.
The death of Do’aa caused outrage among women rights activist in Iraq who condemned this crime and asked for punishment of all those involved in this brutal murder. Very limited and shy responses came from the local authorities of Al-Mosul province. However; we did not hear any reaction from the Iraqi government or from the major political parties in Iraq. Three months ago, the-Rape-of-Sabrin case provoked anger in Iraq as well as the Arab world. Al-Jazeera spared much of its precious time to cover her case, simply because it was a Sunna-Shiaa issue and was expertly handled to criticise Al-Maliki’s Shia-dominated government which in turn reacted unwisely to the allegations and finally the case was dealt with in the sectarian context.
This time Do’aa case lacks the sectarian flavour so it was very hard to get the publicity of Sabrine’s case. As I mentioned, Al-Maliki kept silence. Our long-bearded Sunni scholars did not pay attention to this crime. Similarly, turbaned Shia’ Mullahs seemed not bothered as if this murder happened in a different country or on another planet. The Kurdish government, who always insists that their model of “democracy” should be adopted by the rest of Iraq, simply ignored this murder although it was carried out on a “Kurdish territory”. For me, this incident exposed the way in which our “schizophrenic Iraqi society” thinks and reacts at times of chaos and anarchy.
We know that stoning to death is an Islamic punishment for adultery, but those who stoned Do’aa were Yezidis, not Muslims and whether she was stoned because of Adultery or conversion to Islam we still do not know. Yezidism is an ancient religion its roots existed long time before Islam but both Sunni and Shiaa versions of Islam consider Yezidis as “Kuffar”, infidels and devil worshippers. This may explain why Sunni and Shia’ clerics kept silent and did not condemn this crime. Contrary to that, they might felt relieved to see the implementation of “God’s Law” on this girl. But if this is the case, what was the reason behind the retribution killing of twenty Yezidi labour workers by Muslims the next day. And it is worth mentioning that the only point, which both Shiaa and Sunni clerics agreed upon since the American invasion of Iraq was the abolition of Family Law, legislated by Qasim’s government. Many “academics and thinkers” blamed the Yezidis and their heretical religion for this “cruel and barbaric” act. However; Muslims did the same and we frequently hear ceremonies of stoning and whipping of those who commit adultery being held in Iran and Saudi Arabia, our examples for a Shia and Sunni Islamic states.
If this crime happened in Baghdad don’t you think it will attract more attention by the media, the public and the government. Just because this crime happened in a Kurdish area so we do not bother ourselves with it.
There are many questions left unanswered but we should learn the lesson. The tribal and Bedouins values have prevailed in our society and now they hide behind the ugly face of religious, sectarian and ethnic variations. The values of coexistence and accepting each other have been replaced by hatred, bloodshed and revenge. But the question still lingers: how many other Do’aas should give up their lives to the goddess of evil on the Iraqi Altar?
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
In these days Iraqis usually prepare themselves for summer, a long one with scorching heat which only ends with the breeze of early October. Such season change does not pass unnoticed. I remember the packing of winter clothes and unpacking of summer ones. Folding the carpets (Zewalli) and hiding them under the beds, wiping the tiled floor (Kashi), trimming the grass of the front garden and most importantly washing the floor of the roof of the house (Sattah) and the bed frames in order to sleep under moonlit night sky ingrained with countless stars. These are not memories from Baghdad in the forties or fifties as you might think when you read the title of this post. All my knowledge about that period is derived from books, vintage black and white photos in the family album and stories that my “Beebee” (Grandmother) used to tell me when I put my head on her lap waiting for her soft hand to scratch my back and quietly listening to her stories about “Tantal Baghdad”. It is the eighties and nineties’ Baghdad that I grew up in and like many others; left unfulfilled dreams and incalculable memories on her streets. There is nothing extraordinary about it. Instead its simplicity that makes it so precious to me and I desperately miss.
It was back in 1995 and 1996 when nearly everyday I used to take the (Nefarat) going to Bab Al-Sharji and getting off just before crossing Al-Sinnak bridge because I love walking on that bridge. Reaching the beginning of Al-Sinnak Street, I turn left behind the tall telecommunication Tower (which was bombed by the Americans in 2003) and through a very narrow alley to my uncle’s small shop selling spare parts of automatic Toyota cars model 1984. Most of the times I arrive so early to find the shop still closed. In such cases, I go to Edmon Abo Al-Arabana (a Christian) to have breakfast (a boiled egg or “Macklama” sandwich and sometimes and if I am in the mood I go for “Baghila Bil Dihin”) followed by two “Istikans of Chai Abu Al-Hail” from Ali (a faili Kurd). I spend few hours in the shop and in the afternoon I take my break heading to Bab Al-Sharji, passing through Al-Khullani’s square (named after the old Khulani mosque which stood there for centuries) then right to Al-Jimhooriyah Street to Bab Al-Sharji where hundreds of stalls (Bas’tat) gathered on both sides of the street and in the bus garage. As a music enthusiast, I look for rare old albums and frequently find old treasures from the 60s and 70s. gems like Thin Lizzy – Johnny The Fox (1975), The Doors – L.A Woman (1970), CCR – Best of (1967-1971), Pink Floyd- Atom Heart Mother (1970) and many others that I have collected over the years and still have them in Baghdad.
One day I was walking there keeping my eyes on the stalls and looking if they have anything interesting and suddenly I was caught by an original cassette neatly wrapped in transparent paper. The sleeve was dark blue and a picture of an old black man with flying V-Gibson guitar in his hands and just below it written: Johnny Copeland – Texas Party. The man kept his eyes on me as he obviously discovered my interest in this cassette and after breathing out heavy cigarette smoke, he said “Alfain Dinar Ea’yoony”. He was fortyish something with greyish white hair and light beard. At last I got it for 1250 Dinars (about 60 cents at that time). It’s a bargain. From that time I became a regular customer and through him (his name was Karim) I met other “Stallers” selling second hand cassettes and vinyl (as use of CDs was very limited and only affluent people afford it). My relation with them progressed to a level that I gave them my house number to call me whenever they put their hands on a new collection of cassettes. The last time I met Karim was in 1997 in Al-Karama Hospital in Baghdad when he brought his sister to the casualty department suffering from kidney failure. She was kept in the hospital for approximately two weeks but she died later due to complications of her incurable condition.
Leaving the Stalls’ wonderworld of Bab Al Sharji, I follow a different path to go back to Al-Sinnak. This time I cross the street towards Al-Khayyam Building on the left side of Bab Al-Sharji square. A four storey building with many shops inside selling men clothes mainly Jeans trousers. From there I walk towards the beginning of Al-Rasheed Street where the well-known Chaqmaqchi’s Records shop is on the corner back to Al-Sinnak through small tortuous “darbounat”.
Sometimes, I do not go to Bab Al-Sharji at my break time but instead I walk to the once thriving Al-Mutanabi books market. There you meet Iraqis from different background nothing brought them but their passion for reading. I bought many books of Jean Paul Sartre, Camus, D.H Lawrence and others. If I am too late to go back to work, I complete my journey to Shor’ja market, meet my friend there and then go back home.
So is there anything surreal about this journey? Definitely No. it’s trouble-free and the mentioning of all these details may sound unworthy. However; ordinary Iraqis now must put their lives at risk if they dare to do the same. The stalls’ area of Bab Al-Sharji, Al-Mutanabi Street and Al-Shor’ja were frequently targeted by suicide bombs. The shops in Al-Khayam building and Al-Rasheed Street are almost completely closed and nothing left in the small alley ways but the smells of death and hatred and a glimpse of memories of generations of Iraqis eager to re-live these fascinating memories again.