I have to pinch myself to make sure what I just witnessed was in fact reality and not a dillusion from my flu-ridden state. Yep, it hurts. It was real.
Nowadays its wonderfully sunny, and in general I lament every hour that i have to spend inside revising, or trying to anyway. Exams begin at the beginning of June and last for quite a while, so basically, I've got plenty of time to waste (or rather enjoy) before drowning in self pity and 'if only i revised'.
Getting to the main story before I get sidetracked, Friday's are most definatley, and always have been my favourite day. Nothing to do with the fact I spent the entire day looking at dresses for graduation parties at all. And I haven't graduated yet. Talk about optimistic thinking. Anyway, I was supposed to walk around the empty campuses of my cousin's universities (Mustansiriya University and Baghdad University), but I found it exceptionally weird to spend a day walking around universities. My cousins like most Iraqi girls are unbelievably dedicated to work. I admire them for it, but I swear it can't be healthy to work so hard. So after one of my embarassingly awkward and cheesy talks, i mananged to get them to think about something other than work and work. And thus the day was spent. :)
Getting home was normal. I realised why i found Rumadi weird- because of the obvious presence of troops and military. Despite checkpoints and police lining the streets, its not so military, and getting home was relatively okay, apart from the excrutiatingly long and slow traffic. Traffic annoys me to no bounds these days. My parents and Grandparent both end up having to wake at 4am to queue for petrol, most of which is then wasted while the engine whirrs in a non moving jam.
Reached home to find the national water was open, and a few minutes was spent happily throwing it at each other in the garden (this way the plants get water and we get a wash..hahaha. :D). It smelt chloriny today in comparison to its usual sandy smell, and was greeny rather than its usual milky look. At first i would feel bad for watering plants when there was so little water, but then all my efforts to turn the water drinkable did not go well. I brought a filter, but it took an hour to produce half a cup of clear water. Which smelt weird. I then boiled some of the national water, but the pan got covered in a powdery substance. Finally I succumbed to what they repeatedly shouted at me: Its untouchable. Uses of Iraqi water include: washing clothes, watering plants, cleaning in general. And thats it.
Interrupting my contemplation of water in the shade of the garden was a very loud knocking, which physically made me jump. Ignoring all better insticts, i ran to the gate and opened it, trying to look out. A few seconds later the unavoidable "What are you doing?" talk came. Followed by the "you can't go out in that!" talk.
What gets on my nerves here is it is perfectly acceptable for a guy to go out in his dishdasha, and you are kind of respected if you do, but if i just *stand* near the gate wearing my dishdasha, i get the 'its ayb' talk, which consists of a lecture of how i am bringing the image of the whole family down. Its inevitably followed by my mother commenting on 'why can't you wear a long skirt or smart clothes', which is inevitably followed by my 'because i'd die of heat'. My father might then say 'wear jeans then'. To which i may reply 'no, they're too hot too', or i silently walk back into the shade. Perhaps I should just don an abbaya and really embarass them, but for now, I'll stick to jeans and 'made in china' tops, which always have incorrect spellings of word on them. But I am kind of liking this more and more. A few of these t-shirts read: 'cutei buny', 'everning', 'renbow & lov' and the infamous 'flour power'. :D Needless to say, at least they make up for the spelling mistakes with colour and design. Ish.
So, loud knocking, half my family at the gate spectating and speculating what is happening, and your truly contemplating running to my room and staring out of the window. Instead i hang around. Shouts of "GET OUT!!" follow. Silence. A large metal gate creaks open. Its all happening a few houses down. A heated discussion follows, where i cannot hear a thing despite straining my ear drum. Cars start to slow down as they pass the house where all this is taking place. I creep outside and peer over my parents shoulders (Gosh, I never noticed how short they both were). A family stand outside the house with luggage. The wife is clearly angry/upset, and her children wander round in small circles. The man was the source of the shouting, and the heated discussion was with the man, and a guy in a tracksuit at the gate of the house.
Suddenly the man points an angry finger at the guy in the tracksuit at the house's gate. He says (translated badly by me): " Look! Look People! Look at why we will never be at peace, why we will never have success and power! This is my house, 20 years of work! 20 years! Who is this?! Can any of you tell me who is living in my house!? By my blood, i built this house brick by brick!". His voice breaks at the last sentence, and he really looks like he can't talk anymore.
Ever felt a deep stab of pity and sorrow. I did for the man. Why would he lie? He walks round in a circle, and i somehow feel he is trying his best not to scream/cry.
I don't know what happened after that. As is the nature of my parents, one of them led me back inside and closed the gate on the way out. I always feel I have been cheated of life, because they do allow me a lot of freedom. But at the slightest hint of trouble, or sad news, or anything negative, they hide it. The only reason I heard of the hospitilsation of one of the closest people to me was because i accidently eavesdropped on a conversation. Talking to my brother and sister about it, they both like it my parent's way better. Not hearing about anything until its a death. Not hearing about the economical problems in Iraq. Not hearing about the fact that the large child population of Iraq are on the streets and not in school. I don't like my parents way. I want reality, which is why i dedicated exactly half an hour of complaining at the gate, until my parents finally explained everything.
The man who was shouting was a normal iraqi guy. Worked and worked, and built his house. During the war years, his family got threatened with death, and he got beaten up, and accused of working for saddam, because he had a nice home.
He left Iraq and lived in Jordan. Came back this year to visit family, and sell carpets and furniture to provide money for his family, because they needed money as Jordan is much more expensive than Iraq. Came back to find a family in his house. 'shay sowee hisa?' (what's he going to do now?) I asked. My mother turned around, and looking into the distance, replied 'I don't know'. My father has walked off and joined into the group of men who were trying to solve this problem on the pavement, and again, my mother led me back into the house.
As twilight came nearer, perfumed tea was served. I went into the garden barefoot and drank the boiling tea while looking into the multi coloured sky. As the sun disappeared further and further, all I could think about was the pain of the man. What could the police do? If the house was given back, where would the tracksuit guy and his family live? Why were they in the house in the first place?
Just before i walked back in, I overheard something, but I really have no idea who said it 'at least he still found his house standing. at least he didnt lose something more important than bricks.'. Again the stabbing painful pity came. A child gurgling with laughter than broke my contemplative sadness. It laughed further and further into the distance, until it was overpowered of someone calling my name. As i walked back into the house (leaving sandy footprints on the floor), I smiled at how surreal life could get.