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Articles tagged "Mosul, Iraq"

Exiled in Europe: An Interview with Three Women Writers

Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka has often examined the question of exile in essays and articles. Exile is indeed a place, he has written, a desolate space where one must confront the question: “Is there a moment when you know intuitively and accept that you have now truly arrived in exile?” He also suggests that a writer’s temperament is that of “a creature in a permanent state of exile,” since his or her real vocation is the eradication of the barriers of reality....

Beyond the Trauma of War: Iraqi Literature Today

A decade after the U.S.-led coalition invaded Iraq, we cannot approach Iraqi literature today without recognizing the multiple shifts and varieties in its expression. In a matter of ten years, the post-Ba'thist era has witnessed the sudden fall of a long-lasting dictatorship, an encounter with Western occupation, and an unprecedented upsurge in sectarian discourses, to name only the most prominent events. In addition to these influences, the development of contemporary Iraqi...

The Green Zone Rabbit

Before the egg appeared, I would read a book about law or religion every night before going to sleep. Like my rabbit, I would be most active in the hours around dawn and sunset. Salsal, on the other hand, would stay up late at night and wake up at midday. And before he even got out of bed he would open his laptop and log on to Facebook to check the latest comments on the previous night’s discussion, then eventually go and have a bath. After that he would go into the kitchen, turn on...

Salman and the Mule Suicides

My acquaintance with Salman extends back to our military service, to the winter of 1984, I think. In that year I began to serve in a series of units that fought in the mountains, cities, and canebrakes of Kurdistan. Till then, before being ordered to serve in the logistics battalion in a suburb of the city of Sulaimaniya at the Dukan Dam, to be precise, I had served in the Division of Military Veterinary Affairs under the command of the Third Army Corps in Basra. The Iran-Iraq War was...

Be Quiet, Soldiers

At the Ajeerda divide, the strip of land that separates the marshes on the eastern side, east of the city of Amarah, we were gathered into deeply dug-out positions. Thousands of soldiers, dressed in khaki uniforms, we were packed together, drenched by the rain, with our helmets and weapons. We placed ourselves in various positions, small sandbags above us, their exposed sides submerged in water and mud. The mud was so deep that we sank into it up to our thighs. The rain hadn’t...

A Portal in Space

The Friday bombardment started a little later than usual, at 8:30 a.m. The sound was loud and clear. Umm Anwar sighed, and her pain showed clearly in her expression. Furrowing her brow and ready to explode, she exclaimed to herself loud enough for the others to hear: “The downpour has begun, O Conqueror, O Provider.” Her son, Anwar, straightened up and rested his elbow on the sofa. He looked at his sister to check her reaction. Then he remarked calmly, “At the end of...

The One-Eyed TV

Just as the thirteenth year of my life started, the Iraqi-Iran war began. Before it was even a year old, my oldest brother was killed and one of my cousins was taken as a prisoner of war. That is when I began hearing my father curse “Mr. President” whenever he found himself alone with my mother in the orchard, kitchen, or bedroom, or as she milked our cows in the pen. I was irremediably confused as I sat torn between these obscene curses and those beautiful pictures and songs...

Merrymaking

He is not a tightrope walker, a snake charmer, or a tiger tamer. His hands are empty no charm or sleight to them, and he does not have any puppets, hoops, pungis, or whips—his mere body is his only apparatus for a peculiar kind of entertainment, a unique sort of adventure that no one before has witnessed or experienced. If the acrobat walks lightly on his tightrope, the charmer blows into his pungi and tilts his head with the snake, and the tamer lashes his whip in the air in a...

Music in a Baghdad Alley

No matter where you settle or wander That first melody is yours At every arrival and departure Its living face will meet you at the entrance that remains If you walk and the opposing wind is in your face and Death alone is the alternative To hear it departing between worlds, where you go and come. Did you not hear it one night As you were passing under a balcony? Your longing still anchors it in the heart of wandering A blind musician shaking it off From the nooks in his...

In Saadi Shirazi’s Garden (When He Was a Prisoner)

The river flows. Guides hide in the woods. I am a single day dragging an apocalypse of days. Wounded battalions smelling the burning air through the dried blood on the nose. Because the city of water is not far. It is there. The rose orchard is there and there is a golden cup of poison guarded by an angel’s hands. The river gestures from a distance with the shut eyes of an intoxicated concubine and so on until it reaches its end in its own dream.  But from the wall to the...

The Arab Altar

The last thing on our minds was celebrating our wedding, after we had waited so long, to the sound of air raid sirens and the reverberation of Dushka guns targeting the Iranian airplanes attacking Baghdad. Maryam had done everything she could to postpone the wedding, using arguments and excuses I found totally unconvincing. I was doing an MA in contemporary literature at the University of Baghdad. Once I was accepted there, Maryam volunteered to help me check sources and references for my...

The Last Six Days of Baghdad

This morning, I decide on another escape route to dodge the police surveillance of the rigid Mukhabarat we can’t seem to shake off. I will jump in the first illegal taxi that comes near the hotel and make a grand tour of Baghdad. No sooner said than done. I happen on an old retired civil servant, who’s turned illegal cab driver to make up his pension. In his wreck of a Fiat, Abdelbaki and I take a very long ride into the city, far from the hassle of the security...

The Mulberry Tree

My city—Mosul—was economical even in its delights. During its unhurried spring, which was fragrant with the scents of grass and wild flowers, there were only a few places for people to go on excursions. When they were unable to enjoy an outing, they would tell the following story. A young woman wished to leave her house for an outing, but her husband objected: “What can a person find outside that he doesn’t find at home?” The woman replied, “Grass....

A Vacation in Basra

February 2005. Violence rages following the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and the southern port city of Basra is dominated by the militants of Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army. The British, who are stationed in Basra, are doing little to stem the chaos. Mariusz Zawadzki, a reporter for the Polish newspaper Gazeta Wyborcza, takes a break from reporting on the chaos in Baghdad to travel to Basra—alone. Attempting to drive to Basra—which is about five hundred kilometers from...

from “Kumait”

He couldn’t help but see the school; from the time he had left the bus at the township’s station, he had never thought of going any other way. His feet felt at home on the township’s roads. So be it. Why should he take any other route? When he drew near the school, he paused opposite it, turning his back to the river. A giant willow tree rose from the center of the school’s courtyard. He really didn’t want any of the township’s residents to spot him,...

Farsi

Persian

Assyrian

The Psychiatrist

My new position gave me contact with refugees from various communities in Copenhagen. Three municipalities had engaged me to study the cases of ordinary patients or ones whose health conditions were hard to classify. The assignment culminated with my analysis and appraisal of the patient's mental health and then my written report, which the municipality would use for a number of different purposes. Most refugees need assistance and treatment, even if they aren't conscious of it....

Words

Who walks wearily within me at a time when your wound does not sleep? Baghdad I will divest you of your morgue so long to grasp I will divest you at the heart of things at the pinnacle of my childhood. We must still traverse side by side the mad ravings of the doubles who observe us. Does my memory still fail to decipher the underside of things? I want you to be like a palm tree every evening dizzily bowing its petioles. We must still traverse side by...

The Scent of Berries

Who among us belongs to another: Do you, with the wrinkled face? Or we, guardians of the road to no return? Or do we all, Baghdad, belong to the executioner? The scent of berries is still on my sleeve, but the berries have vanished! The fish, too, no longer travel the streams but sink together into the sea as the rivers do! Who harvests memory from soil sown with corpses? Who beats his present with the cane of departure? Amidst this world of nightmare this world...

The Black Storyteller

If you believe my grandmother's version of the story, then her mother-my great-grandmother Rose Garden-must have been fifty years old when she finally decided to live with "Black Anees" under one roof. And all of the stories agree-that is, the stories of the neighbors, which my grandmother heard when she got older-that Rose Garden was beautiful, in addition to having remained a strange and puzzling character to the women in the Saa'i quarter (I'll leave aside for now speaking...

Edward and the First Geography Lesson

I still remember him like it was yesterday: a small man, elegant in his own special way, entirely different from traditional men's elegance, such as is found in a suit and tie. He used to buy his clothes from secondhand shops-lenga, as we used to call them; he would choose them with care and a taste for beauty. In winter he would wrap a long red scarf around his neck, then, on days when the cold was harshest (in January for instance), he would wear a black leather jacket. I can...

Iraq Stories

Journalists who visit Iraq hear many stories, yet they are prevented from recording the majority of them because they must chase after the hot story, the quick journalistic news piece. A journalist might sit down in her hotel room to record the things she has observed, but in the frenzy of filing her report, not only will she forget these stories, but they will appear to her afterward as something faded, having lost its luster. It might even-and this is quite conceivable-appear to her...

What’s New?

I saw a ghost pass in the mirror Someone whispered something in my ear I said a word, and left. Graves scattered with the mandrake seeds. A bleating sound entered the assembly. Gardens remained hanging. Straw was scattered with the words. No fruit is left there. Someone climbed on the shoulders of another Someone descended to the netherworld. Other things are happening in secret I don't know what they are- This is everything.

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