I'll start out by saying I'm at some relatives house, across the Dijla, and slightly more north.
I was supposed to be travelling abroad, for more university stuff, but Iraq+Plans=Failure. I think its always best to go with the 'flow' here, as plans almost-correction never- work. That's both a good and bad thing I suppose.
The 30th was basically me moping that i wasn't going to spend it with my family, but relatives, who seemed to have a completely different idea about what life was about. Anyways, a few hours of silence later, it was the 31st. My father came back from Diyala, apparently missing an explosion. It always is worrying how many times you can 'escape' death, or how close you can come to it, without even realising. i try to convince myself the suprise will lessen, but it really doesnt. I always end up with the same reaction. An involuntary shudder. There's no other way to live I suppose. Anyway, back to diyala, something about dumping of dead bodies in local bisateen. The police forces in Diyala, I'm not sure whether to describe their reputation as the best police force or the worst. Equation number 2: law+village life=incompatible, or so it seems.
Anyway, 31st, was spent watching my mother cook at the speed of light, and watching relatives joke and laugh. A whole hour was dedicated to calling other family members and wishing them a happy new year, and success. This basically means a whole hour of shouting "Schlonkum? Inshalla il sayna il jedida itjeeb hob wa najah!!" ("how are you? hopefully the new year will bring love and success") down a crackly phone line.
It was truly a funny scene, as each side of the telephone line misunderstood, or misheard.
I think half an hour was spent trying to distinguish voices.
Children who i know are related to me, but I don't recognise, run around my ankles screaming, as I try to make sure that a tray of juice reaches its target-the living room- without being spilled. There's absolutley no second of quiet, but an ongoing stream of happy conversations. The tv is now on an iraqi channel, where some people are dancing. they have formed an impossbly long line, and shake their shoulders up and down trying to dance the chobii.
Of course the men have occupied a large area, talking about politics, economics etc etc of Iraq, before my nana gives them the 'look'. No more politics talk, and now jokes occupy the conversation, and everyone ducks as flecks of hab (seeds) fly out in all directions, accompanied by laughter.
Its still far from 12, so the all the family head out to a restaurant. A known restaurant is found, and everyone storms inside from the cold. Ten minutes are spent trying to find a table large enough, and instead we end up pulling two tables together. Looking at the menus was a suprise for my family only I think. There are so many foreign options now. To my suprise, all foods come with starters, salads and drinks.
A few minutes later, to everyones suprise, we hear bangs, and everyone is silenced. A guy checks outsides and sees no fireworks. But within minutes, the atmosphere resumes. Talking, eating laughing, and hey even flirting.
(In iraq, an increase in romance/engagements/weddings basically means that the situation is improving-the logic behind this is, if the situation is bad, everyone wants to live each second without the responsibility of a partner/children; if the situation is good-bring on the marital chains! :D).
The decision is made to walk home:
a) to burn off sugar, as dessert awaits at home
b) the traffic is ridiculous.
We pass a new checkpoint thing, and against our expectations, it is entirely manned by the iraqi army. One of the soldier hands a flower and a sparkler thing to every girl in our family. I try my best not to take it personally and fall in love. hhhhhhh
At home, the generator whirrs into life, and light floods the house. Its going to be 12, and everyone has managed by some miracle to fit into one room. We hear more bangs, again everyone is in jumpy mode again, but sheepishly we realise its fireworks outside. They glitter and sparkle.
At 12, everyone proceeds to start kissing and hugging everyone else. i found it easier to start on your knees, kissing all the children first, then work your way up, as adults usually spend half an hour in tears wishing you success in your life, whereas the children grin cheesily and slobber on your cheeks.
Twenty minutes later i have no saliva left. Kisses here are extremely sloppy, hhhh, or rather wet, but i think i prefer that to the air kisses. hhhhh, yes air kisses. If someone considers themselves high class in iraq, they do not kiss you, rather they place a hand on your shoulder and kiss the air on either side of you. I found this pointless, and just ended up moving my head from side to side while smiling. :D But with relatives....its like drowning in a bucket of saliva, but for some reason i always find it heart warming and fun.
More hab remnants fly as jokes are made about everyone and everything. One of the joke topics i remember, is about one of the women in the restaurant who said 'pitha' instead of pizza. Then Jokes about bald people. i look at my dad's head to make a point *cough thinning hair*.
The time is 4am, and i'm still not asleep.
a) because i'm ill, [and so i am inevitably going to spend the first day of 2009 in a bed]
b) because i keep replaying the day over in my head.
It doesn't need a genius to point out that no one should rush back to iraq, because things are far from perfect, but i can say i've never felt more alive in my life. Of course, bets are being made about when i will snap out of this euphoric phase. Not any time soon.
As a child, I always viewed new years day as something of a spell. It meant tidying my room to perfection, so that the coming year, my room-and life, would be tidy, I would wear new clothes, and I would make sure i was always smiling, so that in the new year i would be happy. Basically i was scared i would be cursed to have a bad year if each new year didn't start out perfectly.
Only one year ago did I snap out of idiocy. It really doesn't matter how you spend your new years eve/day, as long as its with who you love. i don't care how cheesy it sounds, every letter is true.
It doesn't matter if my room is messy on that day, or if i don't do anything special. i've realised this year is completely in my (our) hands, so with that, all i can say, cherish each second of life.
Now, I'm going to do some stupid things. It seems I enjoy making mistakes a little too much. :D