Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Birthday Bottles

A lot of the times when i have a happy memory, i am selfish with it. I don't tell people or write about it, because i know i'll always remember it.
And as well, i think i worry telling people of a happy or personal occasion sometimes takes away the 'specialness' of it.
...but its probably just a small part of my selfishness kicking in..unwilling to share my happiness and my joy, but wanting to greedily keep it locked away, to smile at in those moments of empty thoughts.

There's really no other way than to tell you the truth - which is i basically spent my 18th birthday in the desert. I couldnt have cared less though,because it was who i spent it with.
I chose the quiet and dark surroundings of a desert cafe.
I remember the worried looks on my grandparents face as i told them where i wanted to be. I remember my father's raised eyebrows, and my sisters small sulk over the ridiculousness of my idea. But nonetheless, it was my birthday, and so everyone grudgingly agreed to go along with it.

Amongst the ruins of an old civilisation, and dusty weathered ground, i celebrated. Not my age, but my experiences, and the people i loved.
I am in love with fireworks and sparklers, though i realised the distinct atmosphere - which was noone else shared my enthusiasm.I can still remember the stricken look on my cousins face as he rushed off somewhere away from the bangs and sparkling fire. I still remember the small jumps of my aunt.
I wrapped up the remaining sparklers and have them saved as a memoir of joy, and a memoir of war.

I don't remember the other details much. Everything was so loud, and yet everything was so quiet.
I can still picture the moon though - it was so bright, amongst the ink black sky. A reason for its vividness being that the only other light source came from small lamps flickering like fireflies. The moon was so proud and glittering, and so was I. I glittered more than an over enthusiastically covered christmas tree.

Towards the end of the night, it got cold. Slowly numbers dwindled away, their empty seats adding loneliness to the chaos around me.

The children of the night came. They were young boys aged around 7-17. Actually, i dont know how old they looked...malnutrition and shabby clothes had the effect of confusing me of their real age. They wandered, their footsteps muffled by dirt, and their whereabouts shown only by the cloud of sand that trailed, as they kicked and shuffled their way.
I found myself laughing at their childish jokes that echoed across the darkness. As the voices grew further away, i forgot about them.

Perhaps half an hour later, i heard an angry voice shooing. My mind was spinning, and i wasn't sure what was happening around me.
A few seconds later, khalu H had got up and was handing the children of the night the glass bottles and the empty tin cans. I got up and 'helped'. Emptying the bottles before putting them in the bag, and crushing the cans. It was a surreal moment. I realised the boys had been wandering around the cafe asking for the glass bottles and tins, their small voices unheard or ignored. It was only by the angry shooing that i had realised their story.
I dropped back into my chair, as they scurried away.
My heart dropped.
Surrounded by meaningless conversation, i tried to take my mind off the whole incident, and i did so successfully. But not for long. After a minute, i couldn't ignore the look of pain on my little sister's face. It was mixed in with a lethal dose of anger and vehemence. At that moment, my heart broke a small fraction. Not for the sandy children whose whispers tingled in the air.

I tried to convince her that life was happy. Even the children of the night could crack a smile, so there was no reason for the glistening sadness in her eyes. It took me a while to find my handbag. I took my little sister in one hand,and the bag in the other.
And then i walked out into the meagre surroundings. Into the desert to find the children of the night.

An army truck passed, Syrian soldiers holding their guns at angles in the open top.their eyes hardened as they watched us precariously. The truck drove smoothly and silently past.

The smell of large piles of rubbish clashed with the flowery and sweet scents of birthday celebrations. I had seen one of the boys before eye the rubbish and finger through it carefully, eventually walking off with a piece of cardboard which he dragged behind him.

As the ground beneath us got harder and rockier, a wooden pick up truck full of young farmers passed, their faces covered with their yashmaghs. Their spades tightly clasped by their muddied arms. Their voices loud and seemed garish amidst the calm surroundings.

Further and further i took my sister into the darkness, until only 2 lights remained; the light of the moon and the distant light of the cafe. I heard my sisters voice devoid of hope. She said we should go back.

"I'll find them" i told her assuredly. At that point, they floated out of the dark. It was such a shock, that it took me a while to believe it was really them. I pointed them out to my sister, who stared, equally as dumb shocked as me. They didnt seem as alive as they had been. They were weary and ambled in a train, each of them bearing their burden. I quickly took out all the money i had at that time - 5000 syrian liras.
I dont even know the comparative value of it. Currency has lost value for me -it all becomes just different colours,pictures, words and numbers printed on crumpled paper.
I handed the notes to my sister and urged her to give it to the fast disappearing can collecting children. She looked apprehensively at me for a minute, and walked off unsurely, as i hung back in the dark. She gave the money to the small boy at the end of the line, who was trailing a bit, dragging the sack behind him. Standing in the dark I saw his unbelieving face, and his questioning look at my sister, who smiled nervously at him, and her lips seemed to say the words "its for you".
He stared down at the money in his hand, and then ran off to the rest of his group. Well, he didnt run. He skipped happily, showing his open palm to an older guy.
But in all truthfulness- it wasn't the boys happiness that made me grin, as i stood like a statue on the dry dirt. It was my sister's satisfied smile as she walked blindly towards me.
Maybe i should feel guilty that my actions were selfish.

As we walked back slowly, the truck with the farmers on it reappeared, the wooden pick up truck bumping along the rocky track. One of them pointed at us, and shouted something to the others. My sister worriedly asked me what they had shouted at us. 'Nothing' I lied reassuringly. I inwardly sighed as i saw the 5 meters that took us out of the desert dark and into the fluorescent illumination of the cafe.

Only in writing this now, do i realise how potentially dangerous that could of been, but i often jump into scenarios, only to realise months later, that it could have been dangerous.
But i can personally never forget that 'the biggest risk in life, is to risk nothing at all.'

Friday, 1 January 2010

Iraq Blog Action Day


You're probably wondering what Iraq Blog Action Day is.

It sounded like some fun bouncy assault course at first, which kind of explains my initial enthusiasm to take part.

After researching it some more, it then seemed like a superhero gathering, Iraqi Bloggers Unite!
Eventually, my whimsical fantasies wore off, but not before i spent some time chuckling to myself about it.

I'm typing this before hand and i'm publishing it on IBA day, which is 1st. January 2010...though i'm not exactly holding my breath that on the first day of the new year, masses of people will rush to their computers in anticipation.

The first day of the new year has and will always be a new start to me. I've kind of lost count of how many 'new starts' I've had to undergo. Too many.
But this year has probably been one of the worst years for me. Perhaps i should explain, but I refuse to dwell on the dying past in a new year.
And so begins my post....though i'm still kind of shell shocked that i'm going to start the first day of the new year with a post that will probably highlight ineptitude and confusion. is about politics.
But oh well, i stick to my commitments ;)

Thus enter the mind of an iraqi girl (or young woman? I'm not quite sure which catergory i fit in now, but you get the picture).

The Iraq Blog Action Day is about the iraqi parlimentary elections that are to be held in 2010.And the aim of it is, to give you, the readers, an insight into the broad spectrum of political opinions that exist among the iraqi bloggers. As a general rule, i'm not sure if iraqi bloggers represent the Iraq nation, but among us we have so many different backgrounds, that each of us will probably show you the general political mindset of our 'group', and whether we define our 'group' by religion, age or gender, depends entirely on each individual blogger.

In fact, as i type, i am trying to eliminate my subconscious leanings to certain politicians. I dont want to advertise the politician who is part of my religion, or gender or family etc, but i want to explain and evaluate the politician who i see fit to bring a crumbling country back to its feet.
Unfortunatley, all my big talk wont really affect anything, for i am somewhat uneducated in this aspect- i know the big names and their promises, but other than that, i am blissfully ignorant to all the other politicians, who may be able to provide a big service to their country, but will miss the opportunity to do so because of...well ignorance and lack of order in the political arena.

The First time Voter's Rough and Inaccurate guide to Iraqi Political 'organisations'....

(organisations being in apostrophes, since the very thing they lack is organisation.)

State of law coalition

Al-Maliki has created an alliance of his Dawa party and other groups including some Sunni tribal leaders, Shi'ite Kurds, Christians and independents. Dawa is originally a shia islamist group, but maliki reformed this to involve and create a coalition of the main sects in Iraq.
Known to be one of the more modern coalitions, focusing on rebuilding Iraq, rather than religion, or anti occupation stances. Suffers from loss of popularity due to some failure to deliver better services.

United iraqi alliance

Shi'ite alliance with the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), and followers of Moqtada al-Sadr,and the Badr organisation, Fadhila, former prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari, Ahmed Chalabi.SCIRI and sadrists were previosuly in the state of law, but pulled out in favour of their own alliance.
Also includes the Anbar sunni group, and had some behind the lines backing from Al sistani.
Believed to be a strongly shia group, controlled by the 'militias', despite this, enjoys popularity.

Tribal leaders

Tribal leaders first gained popularity after their assistance against Al-Qaeda, and are used as a front for many political groups, to gain popularity. They stand for traditional standards on rebuilding Iraq, and are respected.Are often backed by large well known families.
Unfortunately, tribal leaders have suddenly seemed to spring out of everywhere, with anyone claiming the title of sheik for themselves, and donning dishdashas and agaals, in order to win favour.

Iraq national list (includes The iraqis)

Former Prime Minister Iyad Allawi, a secular Shi'ite, has joined with Sunni politician Saleh al-Mutlaq to form a non-sectarian alliance. The Coalition is campaigning for national unity and secularism and rumours are they will be backed by Vice President Tarek al-Hashemi.
Also include - Maysoon Damluji (academic,and women's rights). Adnan Pachachi (anti occupation) and Ghazi al-Yawar (Shammar, well known for his development of the emirates)
Liberalism, rid of all iranian influence in iraq.backed by..iyad jamalaldin
Centralist candidates also stand in ummah al iraqiya- such as Mithal al Alusi.

Independent Groups and Minority Groups

Iraq's ethinic and religious minorities Turkmen, Bahai, Yazidis, Sabeans, Assyrians,Kurds. May alliance themselves with bigger groups. Independent Candidates involve parties such as the Communists, Capitalists etc etc

Individual Candidates

A free for all- anyone including your uncle could stand. Politicians, Sheiks, Teachers, Nurses, Doctors...independent candidates usually have family backing.

My vote? Personally I would probably vote for Maysoon Damluji....I think we need academics in our government,we need to knock some sense into the new generations, before the psychological effects of war take place, and before its too late. As well as this, it would greatly improve women's stance in society...despite Iraq having a higher percentage of female population, their voice seems to be constantly belittled.

:) Its 2010, i'm in mild awe of how time seems to flutter by. And as a reminder of how time moves, but everything seems to be replayed in politics, in history, in life...enjoy the following song...