Sunday, 20 November 2011

Nameless figure in a Nameless war

I suppose they are quite faint, but its still there. The silvery lines blend quite well into my arm, and at times, I thought they looked pretty when I wore black.
I used to get so angry over them. How was it that I could be so unlucky.
The day I got them, was the day love ceased to exist for me.

What reminded me of that day, was a weary eyed woman. One of the rare occasions where I hadn't worn a long sleeve top, my bare arm was resting on the arm rest. I hadn't noticed her looking at me, then looking at my scars, but when I finally did, I blushed, and almost too quickly turned my arm over. Her glare never left my downcast eyes.

What is it, she asked, her chin pointing towards my arm.
I tell my friends its a childhood scar and say no more. I'm partly telling the truth, after all, I was a child when I won that trophy.
I haven't thought about that day for almost 7 years.

It was in late in the year. The joyous moment where we all looked at Iraq starry eyed. Our naivety and blind hope misplaced . I hadn't seen my grandparents for what seemed like forever. It was the first time back from exile, and I had forgotten how they looked or spoke.

The night we arrived, everyone fell asleep, the journey taking its toll. I fell asleep to the whispered hushes of my grandparents and parents excitedly catching up-mainly about us. Our growth, our change,our achievements.

I woke early the next morning to a view of lush greens, a stark contrast to Baghdad's browns and greys.
Cautiously I tiptoed around. My bare feet making no sound on the stone. I jumped and my shoulders straightened, when I saw both my grandparents awake in the kitchen.

Their joy was evident, and for a few seconds I dumbly stared at my grandfather's pure delight. His weathered years didn't seem to slow his happiness down. After almost hand feeding me, and asking me whether I wanted to go to the village souk with them, I nodded shyly.

I left my family asleep, and waltzed out. The journey in the taxi was fun. Though I don't quite remember my replies to questions, and even my laughter at their jokes, was very bashful. I felt shy, and it was that awkward first day of reunion.

Then we parted. My grandfather stayed outside in the rising heat, while me and my grandmother went into a clothes shop. The clothes were all ridiculously bad looking, and it was funny watching her argue with the shop women for what seemed to me, no apparent reason. I glanced outside, my grandfather was buying food, proudly informing his many friends of our return. He generously gave verbal invites to our house. It was going to be a busy few days.

I walked around the shop, mindlessly feeling fabrics and textures for around half an hour. The crowd outside had died down a little, but there nonetheless. I saw my grandmother heading out the shop, and dutifully, I walked towards the door.

Naturally I got to the door first, and pushed it open slightly with my left hand, through the glass I saw my grandfather's back to me. His dishdasha a clean white. His red and white yeshmagh wrapped as it had been done since the deserts began. I could see his head tilted up towards the sky, as he waited for us. I knew he was smiling.

I glanced back briefly at my grandmother, and continued to push the door open.
That's when the glass door shattered, and I heard the taxi driver shouting.
I looked down disorientated to find a glass pieces had cut open my arm. Using my back to hold the door open, I pulled out the glass.
I felt my grandmother walk past me, then fall down on the hot floor. She had fainted.

I looked down at the gash. The skin was flopping back, so I pushed it down into the cut, not understanding anything. My arm was warm, but I felt no pain. I tried vainly and desperately to seek out my grandfather standing proudly. My eyes and head throbbed.

Calls were frantically made for an ambulance. No ambulance came.

The taxi driver ran around frantically. Women in billowing black crowded around my fallen grandmother, pouring cold water over her grey face. They knew her, and took her to the back room. Different women, also shrouded in black ran out into the streets, their cries and wails a vocal mess. I remained standing in the doorway, a deep churning in my stomach. Where was my grandfather.

I saw the taxi driver pick up a limp body and put it in a taxi. The dishdasha was dirty though. His was clean, I thought briefly, my eyes still searching.
I walked out into the sunlight. The light was painfully blinding, but my eyes continued their hunt.

Hands and soft shoulders pushed me back into the shop. I didn't have the strength to hold my ground, and I was back into the dark cold shop. In the space of ten minutes I was in a taxi. Sitting at the front seat, I couldn't understand the wails and crying whimpers of my grandmother behind me. Two women sat on either side of her, holding her tightly, as my grandmother's arms flailed.

My left arm felt like it was burning. Probably sunburn I mused.

Arriving to our enclosure, I saw the same taxi driver. I saw his taxi.It was empty. The whole family was all outside.

No ambulance had come, I realized.

The day passed with a blur, the taxi driver never left our house. I kept wondering why. I remember people hugging me. People telling me to cry. I didn't.
I still haven't cried for him. I thought I might writing this, but I still haven't.

Later that night, when I was washing my arms for prayer, my mother gasped at the cuts. She hadn't left my side the whole day. She asked me how it had happened. I replied I didn't know. She asked no more, and bandaged it up. It stang for a while.

Sometimes, my father asks me 'don't you remember when he...' or other menial memories. It seems every memory of my grandfather was robbed from my mind.

He was a stranger that I loved. I don't remember anything of him now, not even his face. Not even his voice. I never knew him.

I never saw my grandfather again. My last image of him is the back of him. He was slightly stooped. Wearing a clean white dishdasha. His yeshmagh bright. Looking up at the sky. I knew he was smiling.

Rest in peace gido.


Anonymous said...

fuck!!! condolences. nothing much i can say

jnana said...

I'm so speechless :(

Naranj said...

Oh my dear God, I'm so sorry.

Touta said...

thanks :)

Ihsiin said...

This was incredibly moving.