Saturday, January 26, 2008
I remember Baghdad
I remember Baghdad. It was the early 80's, I was five, and the country was at war with Iran. I remember my mum taking my sister and me to the Iraq Museum, where I saw a small, exquisite and moving statue (Nippur, 2700/2600 BC) that my mum bought a copy of, and that adorns my desk today as I type away. I remember the moon glowing over the city, and the muezzin's morning call. I remember the sandstorm that kept us indoors and crushed my mum's exquisite rose garden. I remember going to Samara on Fridays, or to Babylon, and wondering why we weren't allowed into the mysterious mosques. I remember people affectionately tugging at my oh so foreign blonde hair. I remember going with some Syrian friends to visit a relative of theirs who, upon learning who my father was, gave me an apple from a basket in his kitchen; an apple! in war-torn Iraq, were fresh produce was hardly ever seen, this was a regal present, and all the way back home, in the car, I held the apple on my knees like a treasure. I remember the air strikes and my dark fear, as my family cuddled in the bathroom at night. I remember going to buy pungent spices in the souk's tiny, dark shops glittering with silverware, and then going for intoxicating rides on little speed boats on the Tigris river. I remember our driver Bani, a Tunisian with a fondness for obnoxious little girls, spoiling my sister and me with candy and sweet dates. I remember going trick-or-treating for Halloween dressed as Scheherazade, my favorite heroine, she who told stories to save her life.