Sunday, 27 March 2011


The only problem is that this city and its dynamics are trying to mess with my mind.

Let me start from the beginning. To the ‘family’ girl, or the ‘respectable’ girl in Iraqi culture, there is no thing as falling in love. She gets engaged, and then she falls in love with her husband to be, who meets the criteria/requirements, rather than meets the needs of the heart. Obviously it is not always the case, but for the traditional family, that’s the way it works.

Anyway, so Touta comes to London, and sees what she doesn’t expect. A city that runs on finding love, finding a partner, etc. She dutifully ignores it.
And that is precisely what Touta does. Every time a friendship gets a little too close, or a little too comfortable, she shuts it down amicably, with a variety of excuses.

But, recently, I feel almost as if loneliness is going to consume me throughout the entirety of my life.

At first I blamed it entirely on the Iraqis in London. For every Iraqi that approached me, eventually asked me about my love life, and once I replied that mine was never existent, their eyebrows would shoot up, and a pitying look would fill their eyes ‘So who are you going to marry? Everyone has a girlfriend/boyfriend ready to marry, as soon as they finish university’. At such comments, I always smiled, and laid that statement down to reliable Iraqi exaggeration.

Many tried to persuade me to see the error of my ways, and the downfall of my nun-influenced lifestyle. But I refused to give in. I was strong. I was independent.

What followed was an episode where I convinced myself (and those around me), that I was determined to live completely alone. No family, no children, alone. It seemed a lot easier and safer than to risk what could potentially be one of my life’s biggest mistakes.

For although I don’t like to always admit it, but I have fairy tale expectations of life. So far those expectations haven’t suffered too badly.

Anyway, after many agonising moments over the possible futures I may or may not have, I gave up worrying about whether I would end up alone or not, and I did the following-

I closed all the lights of my bedroom. And I stumbled onto the bed. Looking out into the dark, brought alive by millions of glittering lights, I spoke loudly and clearly, to the city causing me insecurity over my isolation-

You can mess my sleep. You can mess my eating. You’ve even messed my (non existent) fashion. But you will not mess my mind or my heart.

I then fell back onto the pillows, closed my eyes, and dreamt a thousand and one dreams of happiness and love.


Ihsiin said...

I think you've expressed the anxieties of many a young, London-dwelling Iraqi (and, I suspect, those living in other places too, though I can make no guarantee). The problem, in my eyes, lies with Iraqi attitudes regarding marriage and pretentious towards a sexually segregated society.
There's a very good folk-story that's somewhat relevant here, that has been narrated through the tribe of al-Fatla. It's called A Man's Honour is in the Hairs of his Mustache, or The Story of Kadhim and Salma, and has been published in a collection of Iraqi folktales that was compiled by C. G. Campbell and goes under various names. I highly recommend it.

Touta said...

(thanks for the book recommendation before i forget)
Thanks to Google Books I just read the story, it reminded me of a variation of that story that my grandmother told me, just before I came...although hers was with the title 'the son of the west marries the girl of the east', it was a very destiny orientated story, but similar plot. I do suspect its the modernized version.

That story is (unfortunately) still relevant in iraqi society today, and we are at fault ourselves for playing into this paved path, rather than trying to create our own way.

khalid jarrar said...

**cheers for her**

Touta Touta is the maaaan she can do it no one can!


Stay strong touta!

لا يغرنك في طريق الباطـل كثرة الهالكين. ولا يوحشنك في درب الحق قلة السالكين.

Touta said...


shokran, sharafitna

And as the saying goes...'Mama didn't raise no fool' :D