Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Gold and Silver

Although I currently do have more pressing issues on my mind, such as how I have kicked myself in the teeth by agreeing to go to school...
I thought I would tell an iraqi fairy tale.
Once upon a time lived a king. he was old, and his greying hair was falling onto his thick robes, which were filled with glittering jewels. One day, when he counted that his 99th hair had fallen, he called his son, the prince.
Now, the prince was spoilt in material wealth. Not only was he an only child, but his mother's death meant that he had little emotional support through his life. His father was generous, and all lands were at peace with his country. The prince would often watch his father shower gifts among his people. But the King's one shortcoming was that he never taught his son the gift of love.

As the prince stepped into his father's court, the father thought of how brave and handsome his son was. After a moment of silence, the King stepped down from the throne and held his son. " Son, I am old and grey, and your time on the throne approaches. However, first I ask of you one thing. Before I hand you the crown, I ask you to find a wife, so that I may live to see my grandchildren before I lie dead in the cold embrace of death".
The prince smiled. All could see that the King had many years left on the throne, but it was clear that he only wished for his son to take the throne. "Yes father".
That night, as the prince lay awake, he thought of all that he had. He thought of all the fine carriages, of the robes spun with threads of the finest fabric. What would a wife bring he thought? I need nothing. So he resolved that he would marry the woman who offered him that which he did not have.

The next morning, the prince rode into the city. He declared his intention. Soon, the news spread like wildfire.
The entire evening, the prince spent sat in a tent where the women would present their gift. They came from all over the land. Spices, Silk, and coins lay at the feet of the prince, scattered as if they had no value.
Outside, only three girls remained. They had been friends since childhood, and each gave the other encouraging words.
The first girl came in. To the prince she offered cake that would never finish. The prince thought. It had been the most interesting thing all day. the prince replied:"But why would I need cake that never finishes, if I have a kitchen that is so full of food, there is barely place to walk? Soon I would tire of the taste of the cake". He rejected her.
The second girl offered the prince a embroidered rug that changed its pattern every day. The prince sat up in his chair. "Every day? There is no doubt that this rug is fine, but something that changes its skin so often cannot be relied upon". With that she too was rejected.
Finally, the third girl came in. The prince asked her what she had to offer. After thinking for some time, the girl replied " I will bear you twins. One a boy, and one a girl. One will have silver hair, and the other will have gold hair. When I wash their hair, the water will turn to silver and gold."
The prince's eyes lit up. This would mean that his country would never run out of supply of coins. And having children? He had often envied his friends who spoke of their 'angels'.
"Yes. I will marry you. Do you have anything you wish to ask?". The third girl remembered her friends outside in tears. She asked that they be brought to live in the palace. It was agreed.

10 months after the prince's marriage, his wife was heavily pregnant. The princess was loved by all. her innocence and kindness won the hearts of all the palace and the people. However, her friends had watched in envy for many months. Although her friends were given the finest rooms and clothes to wear, their hatred burned brighter and brighter as the princess's stomach grew.

The day of the coronation of the prince came. The king wiped away a tear as he saw the happiness in his son's face. The news came that the princess was giving birth on the same day.
As the princess was in labour, her two friends cloaked themselves, and visited a poor pregnant widow. They spilled precious gems and silk into her hand, and carried away two silent bundles.
Soon cries of babies were heard, and celebrations rang throughout the land, not only for the coronation, but for the two new royals. Meanwhile, in the palace, as the midwife carried away a boy and a girl, she was met menacingly by the two friends of the princess. They snatched the babies out of her hands and placed the two silent bundles. They then paid the midwife all the money that they had hoarded, for her silence.
When the prince, now king, asked to see his children, two lifeless bodies lay before him. Rage and anger consumed him.

The two friends carried the actual children of the princess far away. At the coast, they saw an old wooden barrel. They placed the golden haired boy and silver haired girl into the barrel, and threw it into the raging sea. Evil smiles were stretched in their treacherous faces.
Back at the palace, the King felt betrayal. He stormed into the chamber of his wife. She had lied to him. As he looked at the two bundles, he shouted and cursed. Where was the silver and gold hair that she had promised? He told her, that if only they had the silver and gold hair, he would forgive their deaths. The princess wrung her hands in despair. "Those are not my children!" she cried again and again, but to no avail. Why were they dead? The princess was sure she had heard their tears!

The next morning a solemn crowd had gathered outside the palace. It was rumoured that the King was going to kill his wife...
The king marched out, accompanied by his old father. He addressed his people. As an example of how he should never be betrayed, he sentenced his wife to be buried neck deep in sand for the rest of her life. Tears silently streamed down the princess's face, as they dug her living grave.

The babies in the barrel had by some miracle survived the grave that the 'friends' of their mother had devised for them. Waves brought the barrel to the coast safely, where an old poor married couple lived. They heard the cries, and rescued the children.

Through the years, the children grew. One day, after receiving a good pay, the elderley man declared to his golden and silver haired children of the sea, that he had brought water, with which they could wash with. Before, they had been too poor to have such a luxury. As the children washed their hair, the couple watched in terrified delight, as they saw the dirty water transform into liquid gold and liquid silver. As the water cooled, the elderly couple were left with a black of pure silver, and a block of pure gold, both too heavy to move.
The couple started selling and buying more goods, and before long, they found themselves in the highest cirlces of society.
One day, at a party held at the palace, the elderley couple arrived. They didn't bring their children,but they spoke openly of where their wealth had come from. Many of the upper class had laughed at them, and proclaimed them to be mad, but they ignored them all. The rumours of this 'mad couple' and the cause of the wealth was gossiped all around the party, until it reached the king's ear. With urgency, the king rushed to the old couples side, and fell to his knees. "Tell me, please, can I see your children?". The old couple looked at the sadness in the King's eye, and told him the story of how they found the children. The king listened in dumb shock. Stuttering, he asked them the date that the couple found the children. They replied to the king "the day of your coronation".

With almost fear the king jumped up and ran to his buried wife. He started to dig her out of the sand with his bare hands. Soon, he carried his aged and weakened wife. Crying, he told the whole palace of his mistrust and hatred, as he sentenced his wife to a fate worse than death. the couple cried and immediatley called for the children. As the king and his wife saw their real children they hugged. The king stooped to his knees and begged forgiveness from his wife. The queen replied that she had her children and she had the love of her husband. That was all she ever wanted out of life....The End

Even at the time when I was told this, I wasn't sure of the moral of the story, but I was told, that the moral of the story is forgiveness and patience. Although secretley, I hoped that the queen wouldn't forgive the King. Being buried in sand for ten years, then forgiving in a minute?
My ending would have been, Queen says to king " I'm filing for divorce, and I'm taking the children.".
Hopefully though one day, I hope that part of my pessimism washes away, and I would believe in fairy tales and happy endings, but right now, I prefer the bitter taste of reality.


pepe said...

That is right, men can be awful, but you could make this change in the story as well: when told about the prince's proposal, she says: "What kind of stupid proposal is that? Just because he is extremely rich and powerful that doesn't mean that i'm saying yes in advance, i'm not for sale".

Bruno said...

I agree with that comment, Pepe.

Still, it is a fairy tale ...

touta said...

pepe, bruno
I hated this fairy tale when I was told it,I didn't even understand it, and even at my young age, I boiled with fury at the stupidity but my grandmother tried to convince me that it was happy,but to each generation, the view of the world is different. At one point, I think I evaluated this fairy tale by thinking that telling the truth would get you dug neck deep in sand...:D

pepe said...

hello bruno, i saw your comments in the previous post about jeffrey harassing and revealing personal details of iraqi bloggers. that is pretty serious stuff, do you have some kind of proof on that or accounts of other bloggers?

Bruno said...

[pepe] "hello bruno, i saw your comments in the previous post about jeffrey harassing and revealing personal details of iraqi bloggers. that is pretty serious stuff, do you have some kind of proof on that or accounts of other bloggers?"

Yes, I do. Here, for example, is a post on Jeffrey's website, which reveals the personal details and real names of several Iraqi bloggers, including some which have very political views on Iraq:

He linked their real names and details to their blogs, which were not apparent, for obvious reasons on those blogs - namely, an Iraqi with strong political views runs the risk of having reprisals against his family in Iraq by people that object to those views. He did this without the permission of the bloggers. One of them, Bassam, has since decided it is OK to post his blog under his real name, the other (24 steps) has not posted since.

He has also tried to find out personal details about Zeyad, the owner of the Healing Iraq blog - his immigration status, if I recall. Zeyad will be able to confirm this for you, I'm sure, if you need such confirmation.

Furthermore, he harbours great hatred of Iraqi bloggers that have opposed the Occupation, and has pretty much stalked the Jarrar family, trying to cause trouble from them wherever he could. His website's name is "jarrarsupariver", just to give you an idea of his obsession.

Here's a link to a pretty mild Jeffrey post on the subject of Raed Jarrar, entitled

"Let Raed Jarrar Rot in Hell for Eternity!"

Here's a link to Raed's girlfriend's blog, and her views on Jeffreys behaviour:

"Jeffrey Schuster displays classic signs of stalking behavior, and it is such behaviour patterns coupled with his relentless racist rages that have prompted me to temporarily close this comments section. Examples of Jeffrey Schuster's racist attacks, particularly against Muslims and Middle Easterners in general are available to anyone who can do a google search. This unabashed racism would be unremarkeable in itself were it not for the fact that Jeffrey Schuster also holds a job in the U.S. as an ESL instructor where he holds a position of authority over the same populations he regularly demeans and berates."

Basically, what I'm saying is: don't give him ANY information which could be used to discover one's real-life details, because they WILL be leaked, if past history is anything to go by.



pepe said...

hi bruno, thanks for the information. jeffrey's attitude is really aggressive and sometimes nasty but i could not see how that affected the bloggers. those two bloggers had their names exposed, that is true, but why didn't they protest about it? or zeyad, considering that he had his private life probed? i'd expect a strong position from the affected bloggers if the situation was that serious.

Bruno said...

[pepe] "but i could not see how that affected the bloggers. those two bloggers had their names exposed, that is true, but why didn't they protest about it?"

That's a fair point, actually. In Bassam's case, it seems that he wasn't really bothered by posting under his own name. I can't speculate for the other two. Maybe they didn't want to draw more attention to themselves than already had been.

But that's not the real issue is it?

The point is, if I'm somebody living in, or with family in, a warzone where people are killed for almost nothing, would I want some idiot posting my full name and links to a very political blog that would 100% for sure get the 'wrong' people angry if they read it? I'd be furious. That's really irresponsible behaviour. Behaviour that could get somebody hurt or killed.

What the point is, is that it was up to Omar and Bassam themselves to publish their details if they wanted to.

So, if you don't mind Jeffrey publishing your personal stuff on the net, tell it to him. If you do mind, then don't.

That is all I'm saying.

pepe said...

"Behaviour that could get somebody hurt or killed."

if his actions put someone's life at risk the bloggers would have said that vehemently, don't you think?

Jeffrey said...

Bruno and Pepe,

Both Bassam Sebti and Omar Fekeiki had published dozens of stories for the Washington Post -- certainly reaching more readers than Iraqi Bloggers Central, wouldn't you say? -- and there was even a profile Omar Fekeiki with photos of himself. Bruno's allegations are baseless. I did not put anyone's life at risk. Mind you, that this ridiculous charge comes from a guy who wakes up every morning and the first thing he does is check the news sources to see if any Americans had died while he was sleeping. Nice guy, no?

Anyone can read through the IBC archive, where you'll find close to a thousand entries from over the last four and a half years in which I -- along with my co-bloggers -- promote ALL the Iraqi bloggers, even the ones I disagree with. For an overview of the blog, you might want to read one of my anniversary columns (from May 21, 2007):

Iraqi Bloggers Central: Three-Year Anniversary!

I've received e-mails and had contact with many Iraqi bloggers who have thanked me for promoting them in the Iraqi blogosphere and giving them a wider audience among American readers.

The original title, "Jarrars Up a River," was play on the Jarrar family bloggers and Riverbend because they did not have comments pages and people wanted to be able to respond to them. When the first blog to offer this option, Cry Me A River, folded because of threats, I started Jarrars Up a River, a name I would later change to Iraqi Bloggers Central when the scope of the blog changed to cover all the Iraqi bloggers and not just those without comments pages.


pepe said...

Hi Jeffrey, i agree that Bruno could not prove his accusations against you but you don't help much saying that he craves for american deaths, which is very subjective and only generates pointless discussion.
About your blogs central, i think it is a nice thing, but i don't agree with personal attacks like some that i've read there recently. I think that such strategy turns away readers. Just my opinion.

Jeffrey said...


Hi Jeffrey, i agree that Bruno could not prove his accusations against you but you don't help much saying that he craves for american deaths, which is very subjective and only generates pointless discussion.

There is nothing subjective about Bruno's desire to see Americans die in Iraq. He has been very explicit about this. American deaths make him happy. If you've been following his comments at Zeyad's over the last few years, you'll know that he has always posted links to the death of American soldiers, often with a sarcastic remark like "Another one bites the dust" or something like that. It the first thing he does in the morning.

Since the success of the surge, however, he hasn't been able to link to very many hostile American deaths, forcing him to link to even non-hostile American deaths. His hatred of Americans is his primary passion and reason for participating in the Iraqi blogosphere.

About your blogs central, i think it is a nice thing, but i don't agree with personal attacks like some that i've read there recently. I think that such strategy turns away readers. Just my opinion.

I'm not sure what personal attacks you're referring to here. Remember that I have three other co-bloggers now and they are free to write whatever they want. I think a wide variety of debates in the Iraqi blogosphere is good, even the personal attacks. I like heated exchanges as much as sober discourse.

The beauty of the internet and the various blogospheres is that the widest range of response is possible. If anyone wants to rant, I say let them rant. If people want to detail their argument step-by-step, by all means, let them do it. If people just want to make a smart-ass remark, fine by me. I love the rough-and-tumble ripostes as much as the dialectical perorations. It's all good.


nadia said...

Almost all fairy tales are pretty nasty and/or violent. People didn't have the greatest ideas about how the world should work back in the day(nor do they now).

As for your language post, how can you say it's useless when you're using foreign langs right now? Anyways, Germany is the biggest economy in Europe so it's not bad as a European language choice in terms of usefulness. If you were taking french you'd be reading existential philosophy right now and unless you're planning on travelling africa I don't know what you'd do with it. So (this is coming from a french major) I think you made a could choice.

Love your blog btw despite your self-description I find it really entertaining. Not so enthralled with some of your commenters though ;)

Jeffrey said...


Hey, if you don't like the ending of the fairytale, you can always write your own. Back in 2004, the early days, the Iraqi blogosphere was plagued with anonymous commenters, so I wrote my own fairytale to remedy that situation. You might enjoy it:

Make That "One Thousand and TWO Nights."

The good news is that today most commenters choose a name so that we can follow who is talking. Maybe my subversive little tale forced a few commenters to decide on a single name for themselves, either their real name, like me, or a fictitious one, like RhusLancia. Either choice is fine as long as we can follow a person's ideas from week to week and year to year.


touta said...

thanks, Will read it now, although writing my own makes me feel as if i am cheating future generations of the annoyance that so many past generations felt. And, it may end up being terribly bad, or I will probably change the whole thing... :D
or names can be nicknames..

touta said...

nadia, thanks for the comment. i am starting to enjoy german, and if it useful, then all the better.

as for the commenters, i actually like hearing the outside world's view on iraq. A fresh perspective can allow you to find new solutions to old problems. As for the self description, its because i hesitated before writing this blog, i didn't think people want to listen to my whinings and moanings. I always get annoyed when people complain non-stop, and i was worried that that is what my blog would become. So far so good though :D

touta said...

pepe and bruno,
thanks for you opinions, its been fun to read, and also many thanks for your advice, my posts are not exactly political, but being anonymous does help to say what you really want, rather than having to think carefully.
If you have any more tips, I'd be happy to hear them. Blogging is fun, but it can be dangerous in a place like this. Then again, blogging is thaat popular over here, so I'm safe until Iraq gets more internet connections! :)

nadia said...

Of course it's your choice and I like talking to people of all different types too, but I can't help that I've formed an opinion about some of them:)
Do whatever you want tho, I didn't mean to tell you what to do.

I hope you're feeling better, I'd send you some soup if I could.

Anonymous said...

About the story. I think realistically few people would be able to wait for 10 years buried in the sand and be so quick to forgive in the end... I think it is some kind of ideal of the most patient and most gracious and forgiving wife. Unattainable ideal. But the idea is to strive to be more patient, forgiving and so on... I think.

touta said...

No problem, flu is gonish now. :) I know what you mean about forming an opinion of people. I always do it, then get really annoyed at myslef for it. :)
I'm not quite sure what the ideal is, but it probably is what you said. And as for the story, I dont think that being so patient and forgiving is always right. It can get to the point, where it just seems stupid. :)