Beyond the purple line – by Ahmed Zaidan

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By: Ahmed Zaidan

On the stage in an international festival, I am performing my poems…

Oh that was years ago, when I have had last poetry reading in Mosul, the most dangerous city in Iraq 2012 as I remember. The security situation escalated and the bombs have shut down the voice of all birds that sing for freedom, the story of poetry has ended in that area.
The biggest case for the bird who can not sing any more is to take off and soar in the heavens, searching for any green land that welcomes the nightingale, that weaves the shirt of songs, coloured with melodies, for the horizon to wear the dress of freedom…

As I have landed in midst of the snow and darkness, the silence wrapped me. As the newborn baby, catches the thumb of his mother in order to hold on his previous world, for fear of the unknown scenes. Like that I hang on the wall of memories as any weak nail tightens old portraits, that not to fall, because there are what gives me what every single human should have, I absorb from the memories what plant absorbs from daylight.

I walked in heavy steps onto the snow, turned all my energy towards my feet to keep going forward in wavering steps and carefully, so as not slip to the wrong slop. I ignited my humble knowledge of the past with the useful tips from here and there in a bid to slit the darkness. The language was the first candle I have ignited. Then, the faces has motioned slowly and became familiar to me. It is the English language which I found it easier to communicate but it is not a big deal, because the function of the language is to bridge the caps and reduce the question marks.

Oh god! A new language I shall learn after I have spent half of my life in learning English and I couldn’t master even half of it yet. The language is a vast ocean as my professor of linguistic said.
Oh again! I have read too much Arabic literature until the Arabic poems have gushed from my fingers, drowned the papers. I left mess of drafts and papers when I had to flee my first home. No doubt they have become a worthy material of reminding the absent son for her. It’s my mother in there, visits my room and spends the hours in solving the codes of my first margins…After three years of her travelling in papers, she is just passing through my second phase of writing. She is still at the edge of beginning. The core of my writing’s galaxy is yet to come. For her, orbiting around the simple forms of my old poems, it is all my poetry universe, as she knows me well.

More than two thousand miles split me from my favourite jasmine, there in the corner near to the lemon tree. There have been a world, another vital world, that’s more extended into soul. There have been a noise and everyday life with a clock on the wall, declares the time when my father that washed by sun, comes, carrying some bags of the summer fruits and a new story from the town. There have been brothers and sisters return from the schools chanting some of their silly school lessons they have recently learned. Another one is silent doing the repeated school punishment!
Yes, a lot of affairs, I have left behind and I disappeared as a bird floats in the clouds then drowns to depths!

I sit today, staring the farthest horizon, where the objects fades away of the sight. There, if you look with me, beyond the purple line, my beloved are; doing the things which are still stuck in memory, occurring the same noise, that breaks the silence of my loneliness in exile. They are in wait for the clock bell on the wall to declare, when the father will be coming again, carrying the his sadness and showing strength. And pupils from schools.
If there are schools. There are another stories to be told to those children who have grown up and didn’t wetness my presence among them. There is also a mother who no longer get pleased by the flowers of the spring. sat in wait of her absent sons to return, stares the same purple line what I am staring at the moment! Saying that beyond the purple line, there is a son who’s gone by the storm and thrown to the farthest north, where all the nights come from. when I look at the purple line, I see her tears are reflected, mixed with the sad sunset. Unfortunately, she can not see all that because of the fume of wars overshadowed the scenes in Mosul.

“Thank You” For The Goodwill – by Bahaulddin Rawi

Photo: Montaser Jaduo

Photo: Montaser Jaduo

Written by Bahaulddin Rawi

No more Goodwill … No more Saviors … No more similar words like these … We lost our beloved Homeland under these deceived words since 2003 until this second of the minute when we later discovered the beginning was not the same as the end …

As I remember we’ve been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We may be, like many Iraqis, the so-called classic refugees, the ones with only the clothes on their backs, honestly no choice and also we chose to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare – stay and wait and try to survive.

Can I bring along a stuffed present I’ve had since the age of five? What clothes do I take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books?

On the one hand, I know that leaving the Homeland and starting a new life somewhere else – as yet unknown – is such a huge thing that it should dwarf every trivial concern. The funny thing is that it’s the trivial that seems to occupy our lives when we don’t have the time to discuss whether to take photo albums or leave them behind (aching and funny). Can I bring along a stuffed present I’ve had since the age of five? What clothes do I take? Summer clothes? The winter clothes too? What about my books?

The disaster (yes I call it disaster) is that we don’t even know if we’ll ever see these things again. We don’t know if whatever we leave, including home, will be available if we come back (it is destroyed now). There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your Homeland, simply because an idiot got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive, feel safe and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends … to what?

It’s really difficult to decide which is more frightening: car bombs, ISIS, a variety of sectarian militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain and promised.

It’s really difficult to decide which is more frightening: car bombs, ISIS, a variety of sectarian militias, or having to leave everything you know and love, to some unspecified place for a future where nothing is certain and promised. Nothing is nice like before in Iraq, for example if we mention the “rights of woman” – oh sorry, it is just a motto. There was a time when Iraqis were safe in the streets, that time is long gone. We consoled ourselves after the war with the fact that we at least had a modicum of safety in our homes. Homes are sacred, aren’t they? That is gone too. There are just too many risks for the Iraqi woman. There is the risk of being shunned socially and the risk of beginning an endless chain of retaliations, honor killings and revenge killings between tribes. There is the shame of coming out publicly and talking about a subject so taboo, it is not only risking the woman’s reputation, but risking her life too.

Generally, life is not normal after the 9th of April 2003 and was not normal even before; the issue is only that the people had revolted then died in secret, but now they die in public during the daylight

Generally, life is not normal after the 9th of April 2003 and was not normal even before; the issue is only that the people had revolted then died in secret, but now they die in public during the daylight and in front of hypocrite racist TV channels, and on top of that the slaughterhouses waterwheels are still spinning then supplying Euphrates and Tigris with as much blood as needed to irrigate farms and orchards. We were dying as a result of religious slogans and other revolutions behind the walls of the intelligence service, and we are now dying in front of each other and seeing the slaughter machete harvest us in public roads and in every inch of the city.

And yet, as the situation continues to spoil the lives both for Iraqis inside and outside of Iraq, it is really funny that “americans” in “america” are still debating the state of the war and invasion 2003 – are they winning or losing? Is it better or worse?

Let me clear it up for any moron with lingering doubts: It’s worse. It’s over. You lost. You lost the day your tanks rolled into Baghdad to the cheers of your imported, “american-trained monkeys”. You lost every single family whose home your soldiers violated. You lost every sane, red-blooded Iraqi when the Abu Ghraib pictures (https://www.theguardian.com/gall/0,8542,1211872,00.html) came out and verified your atrocities behind prison walls as well as the ones we see in our streets. You lost when you brought murderers, looters, gangsters and militia heads to power and hailed them as Iraq’s first democratic government. You lost when a gruesome execution was dubbed your biggest accomplishment. You lost the respect and reputation you once had so I am sorry, no more “let’s make america great again”, or … maybe you are right, you should, but you should think too in which sense “america” was great? And when? Heartily, I hope the oil or the destruction of Our Mesopotamia at least made your reputation and dignity worthwhile.

The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

Thereafter, I can say the “cannibal american soldiers” have done a fine job of working to break Iraq apart. 2016 has nearly everyone convinced that that was the plan right from the start. The decisions, like disbanding the Iraqi army, abolishing the original constitution, and allowing militias to take over Iraqi security were too damaging to be anything but intentional.

The question now is, but for God’s sake why? I really have been asking myself a thousand times. What does “america” possibly gain by damaging Iraq to this extent? I’m sure only raving idiots still believe this war and invasion were about WMD or an actual fear of Saddam, oh no, or maybe to give us the barbaric freedom and democracy.

Last year (2015) especially, has been a turning point. Nearly every Iraqi has lost “so much”. There’s no way to describe the loss we’ve experienced with this war and occupation. There are no words to relay the feelings that come with the knowledge that daily almost 80 cadaver are found in different states of decay and mutilation. There is no compensation for the dense and black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of things so out of ones hands, it borders on the ridiculousness like whether your name is ‘too Sunni’ or ‘too Shia’, as a concept /conflict we didn’t have it before 2003 anymore. Fear of the police patrolling your area in black uniform and green banners then the Iraqi soldiers wearing black masks at the checkpoint.

Again, I can’t help but ask myself why all of this was done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair?

Again, I can’t help but ask myself why all of this was done? What was the point of breaking Iraq so that it was beyond repair? Iran seems to be the only gainer as Obama declared and I painfully agree with him after seeing its presence in Iraq is so well established. I wonder, has the situation gone so beyond “america” that it is now irretrievable? Or was this a part of the plan all along? My head aches just posing the questions.

What has me most puzzled right now is: why add fuel to the fire? Moderate Shiite and Sunnis are being chased out of the larger cities in the south and the capital. Baghdad is being torn apart with Sunni leaving Shiite areas and Shiite leaving Sunni areas – some under threat and some in fear of attacks. People are being openly shot at checkpoints or in drive by killings. At the end most of them are here escaping from Iraq trying to survive far away from danger.

Then they come to tell you it is all about ISIS Groups, but please who are they? Why are they destroying the Muslim mosques? Why are they destroying the Churches? Why was not ISIS there before 11th of September 2001?

How much worse can it get? People are being killed in the streets and in their own homes- what’s being done about it? Nothing. It’s convenient for them – Iraqis can kill each other and they can sit by and watch the bloodshed- unless they want to join in with murder and rape. Then they come to tell you it is all about ISIS Groups, but please who are they? Why are they destroying the Muslim mosques? Why are they destroying the Churches? Why was not ISIS there before 11th of September 2001?

As my media colleague once tweeted: Where does one go to avoid the death and destruction? Are the “americans” happy with this progress? Does “the black house” still insist we’re progressing in a bloody 2016?

Life in Iraq has become unbearable because it’s not a ‘life’ like people live abroad. It’s simply a matter of survival, making it from one day to the next in one piece and coping with the loss of friends and loved ones- loved ones like my two brothers.

It’s difficult to believe my two brothers are really gone … I was checking my memory today and I remembered many beautiful words they told me. For one wild, heart-stopping moment I thought they were alive. They were alive and it was all some horrific mistake! I let myself ride the wave of giddy disbelief for a few precious seconds before I came crashing down as my eyes caught the words and jokes they had said them to me. I am dying a thousand times when I read a poem by one of my brothers in Arabic about Iraq under “american occupation 2003”. He had highlighted a few lines describing the beauty of the capital (Baghdad) in spite of the war, while I always thought Baghdad was one of the most marvelous cities in the world, I’m finding it very difficult at this moment to see any beauty in a city stained with the blood of my brother and so many other innocents.

You know, during the time of leaving Iraq, many of the ‘goodbyes’ were said stoically- almost casually – with a fake smile plastered on the face and the words “see you soon” … Only to walk out the door and want to collapse with the burden of parting with yet another loved one.

After all, it’s difficult to believe even now that I sit here and write these words and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions

After all, it’s difficult to believe even now that I sit here and write these words and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions, I wonder how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead and how the streets are free of militias and death squads. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break the door and havoc our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets also free of roadblocks and the rest.

For those who have been asking about the Iraqi situation now and wondering how it has been doing after the whole destruction while they hear we lost everything, I would say if the world was empty of good people, it would end, and be sure that we are still strong and our Goodwill is totally different from all, yes all … Ours is like a rose, which gives the fragrance even to those who crush it.

The night happens to me at the brightest mornings

az

By Ahmed Zaidan

The night happens to me at the brightest mornings
The night happens to me when It is already noon
The night engulfs me whenever I mention the sun
The night happens but despite all the nights that happen to me
I still enjoy the smiles of stars
I still share the moon its tales and music
I still watch the ribbons of passing nations and a poet who rides in the wagon driven by three deers
I still see all that in the silver light of the moon
As two lovers watch the reflected graphics tape in a cinema of seventies. .
As two lovers stare the night of the coffee that sparks with bubbles and stars
Rain still is occurring the rhythm on the window edge
The hearts is still occurring the rhythm in the body’s cage
Clock on the wall is still occurring the rhythm
Then, the wind rolls the page ..
The night could happen to me anytime
For example … when I ignite three candles …
Or when I carry my lantern
The night happens as any champagne being opened ..
Very quick … The night happens to me
Very calm .. very gently .. very smoothly
Like a dark fire engulfs an old novel