Saturday, 14 November 2009

Your Name

I was staring at a guy when the memory came flooding back. He gave me a smile, and i turned away, half trying to smile back, half not caring.

Why did I remember now?

It was 1995 perhaps, where i made my first friend- my first friend who wasn't part of my family.
I walked into the gates, and so began my first ever day at school. I sat next to a girl who looked at my shoes and told me they were pretty. I grinned at her and repeated the exact same compliment she gave me- without even looking at her shoes.

I remember the classroom being hot and cold at the same time. But it was generally a lonely boring first day at school. I lack the excitement that everyone else seems to have experienced on their first day.

It was the second day at school where i made my first friend. He was sandy haired and had weird coloured eyes.
I remember him extending the hand of friendship and asking me if i wanted to be friends. i doubt i even knew what friendship was, but who wouldnt happy to rush home and tell everyone they have a friend? We spent the entire day together and i remember fun, arguing, and being taught how to throw a ball. It missed the hoop, but his laughter still rings in my ear, as i said it was easier to hit him with the ball then the hoop.

Our friendship grew and grew and we both ended up in little bubbles...i'd wait for him until he finished football with his male friends, and he'd wait for me while i talked about dolls with my new girl friends.

Soon our parents got to know each other, and i remember one car ride where my mother told my father that his family was Jewish. I had no idea what it meant, and i bugged them until they told me it was a religion. When i asked what 'religion' was, my parents sighs told me straight away that i wasn't going to get an answer. Now i realise there is no answer to that question.

We starting going to each others houses, and running in to greet each other. I remember his older sister looked his exact opposite. In fact, he looked like no one in his family. My eyes kept flitting between him and his sister and parents. Though i was smart enough not to ask him if he'd been found in a bin like i had....(i had the stupidity to ask my older brother where i came from, before i asked my parents...this meant i spent most of my childhood convinced i was found in a bin, as my brother so convincingly lied).

The first time I went to his house, he rushed me upstairs to his room. I sat on the bed, swinging my legs and looking all around his room. It was a messy room. He was busy looking for something, and his face was full of concentration, his seriousness made me giggle.
Out of the wardrobe he took out a neat straw basket. The basket was lined with a pink sheet, and in it lay a beautiful baby doll. Under its head was a pink pillow, and a small pink duvet lay on top. The cutest thing, was the doll had a hat, he removed it once he saw me staring at it. 'She got cold in the wardrobe so i put it on'.

There was a silence where we both just stared at the doll in its pink bed. He looked up awkwardly and said 'Its for you'. I stuttered and replied 'me?'. He pointed at me and smiled and gently put the basket and baby in my lap. i stopped swinging my legs, and he sat next to me on the bed. 'Actually my sister said the baby is mine and yours, not just yours'.
I reply - 'so its ours?'.
A nod follows and we both end up happily smiling at each other. I dont know how long we smiled at each other, but i remember thinking it was long time.

He then helped me off the bed, and as i kissed the baby, he told me so seriously 'when i get bigger and cleverer, I'll look after you, and you look after the baby'.
I grinned, but a second later i frowned...'who will look after you?' i asked him earnestly. I don't remember getting an answer, maybe i did, but i forgot what he said. I keep straining and i honestly cannot remember.
The next thing i remember is him showing me his talking toy, which scared me.You pull a string in the back, and it talked in a weird voice. He hit it for me, and i laughed at how limp the toys body was. Suddenly i wasn't scared.

We made sure the baby was sleeping and we tiptoed downstairs to play in the garden and eat various sweet things.
In the garden we had a water fight, where i used a bucket instead of those plastic water guns. This meant i ended up sloshing half the bucket on myself as i struggled to carry it to wherever the hiding spot was.

I remember when he came to my house, i taught him how to eat ice cream, and i introduced him to jigsaws. I loved jigsaws. I still love jigsaws. I gave him one, but i remember him telling me he would never open the jigsaw until i go to his house, so we could do the jigsaw together.(meaning i would do the jigsaw while he talked)
He checked up on the baby every time he came, telling me i needed to wash her clothes, or i'd been buying her too many toys.

We moved so quickly i don't even remember saying Goodbye to him. My parents don't remember his family name- he had a weird family name - it was probably hebrew? I alone remember his first name.
We never got to do the jigsaw together.

Today, I couldn't help interrogating my mother. She doesnt remember his family name, and my heart sank. The prosecution of minorites in Iraq wiped out a lot of people, and gangs do have a habit for targeting the guys in the young adult age range.
In my mind, as various horrible scenarios creeped in about what could have happened to him, i remember asking him 'who will look after you?'. Still no answer.

My mama tried teasing me about him, usually i would deny everything vehemently, or perhaps go along with the teasing and ask for her blessings. But this time, i was quiet. I'm never going to be able to thank him for being my first ever friend.

She added 'Touta, he moved out of Iraq. His family is in London. I heard about it when we were in Diyala.'
My mind blanked for a few seconds...what?!
She laughed and told me..'as long as you're alive, and he's alive, you might see each other one day. Life is strange'.

I went upstairs into my bedroom. I went into the corner of the room that's hidden. On top of the boxes, there's a basket. The basket is angrily frayed everywhere...but inside, the baby sleeps silently.


spinspermy said...

what?!! when? how old are you, in order that you knew contemporary Iraqi jews?!! the only person I knew that had met Baghdadi jews are my grandparents.

"Now i realise there is no answer to that question" , there is one word can answer that question.

Marshmallow26 said...

Hi Touta,

I have lived in Kirkuk for many years and knew that there were few Jewish families in Kirkuk but were forced by the government to change their names for example: Benjamin to Hussein and so on.

May you will see your friend one day as we say
الدنيا صغيرة

نوفل said...

اليوم الاول بالمدرسة يبقى في ذاكرتنا لكن المصيبة اني اول يوم الي كان يوم 1-10-1990 في بداية الحصار واول نشيد قريته في اول اصطفاف كان "بوش بوش شيل ايدك هذا الحجي ما يفيدك"
وبقيت كل سنة اول يوم الدوام عبالي لازم نقرأ هذا النشيد ههههه
بعدين افتهمت هذا مو النشيد الوطني ههههههه
اسف ما تكلمت عن أول صديق بس مثل ما قالت Marshmallow
الدنيا حيل كلش صغيرة ما تتخيلون شكداتها وكلشي محتمل وممكن

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

jigsaws, water fight and garden games. hope i can back to the time of (found in a bin) lies and belive them. like sitting fok alnakhal and watch the life.
i had a friend she had to leave Iraq with her family, she was my soulmate when i was a teenager, after 15 years we met again, fall in love with her for the second time and get engaged. and the old story started again. i bet you can tell how the end was :P

زهرة الراوي said...

تبدعين من جديد..
حلوة دائماً ذكريات الطفولة :)

أول يوم بالمدرسة
بالنسبة لي تأخرت 3 أيام عن الدوام هم بسبب الحصار كان عام 1990 وكنا في زيارة للعراق وما أدري شنو جانت التعقيدات بحيث أبوية رجع وحد واحنة وحد، وتمرمرنا بالأردن! خوش ذكريات :)

شيء مزعج لمن تفكرين أنه الأشخاص اللي عشتي وياهم فترة جميلة من البراءة قد يكون صارلهم شي بالأحداث ... ليش لازم تصير أشياء مو زينة؟؟
إيييييييييييه .. الله كريم

Touta said...

aha all i can say is one of his parents was a practising jew, whereas the other one was pretty much irreligious :)
and i really really want to know what that 'one word' is. :D

thanks, the world does keep getting smaller, i have a vague remembrance of his second name (began with a G), but i dont remember them being forced to change their second names. :)

hehehehehe, your comment made me laugh, and it shows of the how funny politics is, in the end, as children i doubt any of us cared about anything, just fun. :)

"like sitting fok alnakhal and watch the life."- that is my dream in life i think :D
as for your teenage soulmate, i'm not good at guessing, so i'll presume it has a happy ending? ;)

thank you, :D although it is tiring and stressful, i enjoy the mess that comes with every iraqis circumstances-everyone has a story and interesting history :D as a nation it makes us unique.
and as for the innocence...its still there :P

attawie said...

It always draw a smile on my face to hear such stories, full of innocent moments :)

I had my first friend when i was in nursery school, we used to share everything and walk holding hands, had our first dance on his birthday and got it on tape! (KJ keep your shooting gun away)

I've always thought of how it would be nice to find him and that we might end up together. 20 years later I found him in UAE. looking into his eyes was weird, as if i was 4 years old again. but we both grew different interests and different personality. Yet, it was nice meeting him and catching up.

Pan said...

One day you'll be crossing the street and your eyes will meet the weird coloured eyes of some sandy-haired young man...

JG said...

Cute story, Touta.

Pity you can't remember his surname, he's probably on Facebook! ;)

Anonymous said...

Wow...totally captivating

Love ur style of writing

Kitten x

Mend said...

It makes me cry out the tears that birds send to the soil when they see the twilight. Personally, I have never been able to encounter what this land of the two rivers depicts under the sky. Too young was I when we fled the country. Too cruel was life within its borders. A question I will always be asking is 'was life really that beautiful before the days of the bloodshed?'
Now I know just as you, there is no answer to that question.
This may be the reason why I cannot bear the notion of nostalgia. We will never know, I suppose.
I sincerely hope you find your friend one day.

Touta said...

hehehehe, 'shhh'.
yes, its fun to look back at such friendships because i know that i had and will have nothing in common-childhood friendships never do make any sense. :)

hehehe lol thanks.
though i'm more prone to being realistic :P

hahahaha yes, i've realised that, but even on my guesses of his surname have returned too many results- i'm just too lazy. :D

thanks! :)

wow. your comment is poetic. :)
Although you are right about the nostalgia, i think the land of two rivers will always have a beautiful life, because whether we do admit it or not, there is a special life within your homeland. :)thanks

JG said...

Ah yeah, if someone has a common name it's like trying to find a needle in a haystack!

Touta said...

as well as the modernising surnames during saddams time, now means that if they left, its more than probable they re claimed family surnames.

Nabil said...

These are Iran’s agents in Iraq
(Al-Watan Al-Arabi) gets the real names and aliases, figures and the faked institutions of the mullahs regime agents in various Iraqi cities.

Read the rest at

Little Penguin said...

ya yaaba.. the first day of school was a disaster.. but it's funny that you should write about this.. last night my cousin was telling me about an Iraqi Jew who she'd met and I begged her to introduce me to him.. I'll sniff around and see if I can get any information for you..

Hope all is going well with you.. :)

Touta said...

half the names you have listed are people from well known families, i can;t help but feel it is irrelevant and comes from unreliable sources, but good luck on changing iraq for the better. :)

little pneguin,
mo balla? and wow! :O
hethe world seems so small at times
I'm good thanks, hope you're well too. :D