Thursday, May 10, 2007


Once more hanging a name on a number

I know I am taking this war way to personally, but aren't all wars personal in one way or another?
Another dear friend of mine was murdered a week ago. He was in his mid sixties and he worked with me for a few months. One may contradict here and say that a couple of months do not exactly qualify him as a "dear friend". Well in reply I would say that sometimes people with whom you have spent years can hardly be called friends or even acquaintances without reservations. While a conversation with someone you have met for the first time can sometimes change the course of your life.

I won't start sulking and sniveling and telling you how devastated I was to hear about his murder, which of course I could do easily, since I am becoming weaker and weaker with every new blow. I am just going to say that the murder of this man showed me that you may be as cultured and educated as you wish, yet it only takes one barbarian to put an end to all that consciousness you have managed to muster throughout your whole life.

He belonged to a generation that we Iraqis all know so well. The generation, that was in its prime during the late fifties and the early sixties. The generation that was sent abroad to learn the ways of the foreigners " El Ajanib", so they may return afterwards to Iraq sweet Iraq and help in the creation of the good life.
When that generation returned to Iraq from Europe they were all called " Thawee Al Kafa'at" which means " those with high qualifications ".They were scattered all over universities, ministries , hospitals and factories. And while that generation was naively busy dreaming their heads off, the devil had better plans for Iraq. And you know the rest of the story :Those plans worked and the devil won the round with a blow, which Iraq is still bleeding from heavily till this very day.
Many representatives of that generation were killed during the eight year war. Many were arrested or driven out of the country, others survived it all to get slaughtered towards the dusk of their days, just like my friend.

I won't tell you what an enlightened educated man he was neither, and how optimistic he was when Saddam was finally conquered, and how desperately hopeful he was - like only a sixty year old could be- when he clung to the idea that democracy is not only a fairy tale, and that it could actually be achieved in Iraq . And I won't even bother to tell you how he refused to believe what was happening when hell mouth broke open in Baghdad .

I will only tell you that I will always remember him coming in to the office one morning with a plastic bag full of books for me, after having a discussion the previous day about our favorite writers . He liked the " Angry young men " wave. I knew a bit about them especially Wilson and Amis, but he gave me so much more information. And as extra material for me he brought along with him: " A room on Top" , "Look back in Anger" and -his favorite one- as he said "Saturday night and Sunday morning ".The book was an old paper back edition with the picture of Albert Finny on the cover.
'Oh wait a minute, Albert Finny was the one from Big Fish, right?' I asked.
'Yes , he is simply the best. I used to go and see him in plays when I was in England, later he started appearing in movies . A giant, a giant! Such a great actor' he said.
'You mean you have actually seen Albert Finny in real life ?' I said with wide eyes .
'Yes , he was so young back then, so was I by the way. My God, time is merciless ' he said and then followed his sorrowful reminiscence with a traditional English "Bloody Hell" .

He was transferred to another department in another office, but I kept in touch with him and often used to send him my regards. I was always delighted whenever he came over to our office for one reason or another. He was always sober, well-informed, and.. Yes optimistic.
I was told he was killed on his way to Syria . He and some other passengers were stopped by some group and forced out of their bus and executed .
When I heard, I was not angry or afraid like usual , I was just genuinely and deeply sad . I tried to push away the sadness by blaming him for not taking a plane. That technique failed completely. Who knows what his reasons were, so I gave in to grieve and cried for hours.

I remember he used to often tell us about his college days in England . Once, he told me and the others about the time when his English friends suggested that he and another friend from Africa should take dance lessons; " to help them blend in the era of the swinging sixties obviously " .
He told us how a middle age English dance instructor was assigned for this "mission impossible" :-
' My African friend was doing really well . He was a natural born dancer. In no time at all, he was floating around the dance floor with our teacher in his arms, looking like a handsome black panther. While on the other hand , I was like a drunken bear. I trod on the poor lady's feet with every step I made, and I was totally out of rhythm :
' Please Abdull… listen to the music when you are attempting to dance !" she used to say with watery eyes from pain . And the real tragedy was; that I was actually enjoying myself.
After a week or two she refused to train me further :
' Abdull..! there are two types of people : Dancers and you! ' , she said .
And that was the end of my choreographic ambitions, such a pity! don't you agree ? . When I was leaving I saw her standing outside with her husband. The gentleman was holding her hand comforting her, while she was telling him something . As I passed by I heard her whisper to him:
' That's him , That's him ' .
' Ah ' , her husband said looking at me with restrain .'

Those who killed him may have never ever held a book in their hands, or may have never ever listened to a tune of music.
I remember when I showed him a few of my stories , he said : ' Good , good , but why is there so much fear in your work ? huh? '.

When I think of those last minutes of fear in his life ; when he and the others were taken out of that bus , when those guns were put against their heads, I just black out.
Now I think of him and find myself wondering: Did the feeling of the gun's cold malicious metal against his temple send him back to England on a Saturday night and Sunday morning ?


Blogger cile said...

there you are! sad sad story, but i'm glad to read it in the way you write these stories about iraqi people, in iraq.
i hope other blows will stay far away from you. i wish you strength.
take care

7:30 AM  
Blogger Fayrouz said...

Dear I.R.,

You aren't a weak person. Your strenth comes from your passion and love of the people around you.

Just the fact that you still live in Iraq and work makes you much stronger than all of us who are watching Iraq from a distance.

I'm currently reading "The Kite Runner." I'm amazed and "scared" of the similarities between the current Iraq and Afghanistan under the Taliban. I think we're following the same path.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous at the discretion of the soul said...

good to see you back.
easier said than done, but don't lose hope. as it is, you've given us hope by continuing to write.

9:02 AM  
Anonymous The Iraqi Roulette said...

Here I am !!! thanx friend for keeping interested. take care

Dear Faye,

"The Kite Runner"... hmmmmm interesting , must check it out . Thank you so much for all the comments.

at the discretion of the soul,

Thanx friend, writing .. yes that I can do , certainly, so keep the hope alive.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No man is an island...and we are diminished by the death of any man.
However, surely Iraqis by this have woken up to the fact that the USA NEVER intends to leave Iraq?
We are witnessing a sociocide and a slow burning holocaust.

7:59 PM  
Anonymous Lynn said...

I'm so sorry for your loss, for ALL your losses.

The Kite Runner was a WONDERFUL book. But it made me cry my eyes out!

Take care and stay strong.


12:22 PM  
Anonymous the iraqi roulette said...

Thank you for your comment.

Thank you for caring .
Crying is good sometimes, and is getting more easier with the years and the circumsatances.
I must get that book hmmmm.
take care

8:42 AM  
Blogger Fayrouz said...


It's time for another post so we'd know you're still alive :-)

Stay safe,

6:41 AM  
Anonymous the iraqi roulette said...

Hi faye,
Thanks for asking ,Iam alive and kicking, or maybe they've got computers and a connection in the under world :)hmmmmmm. soon I'll get round to it.
take care

11:24 AM  
Blogger cile said...

wow! and indeed, yes, i understand that the 'underworld' is better connected to the internet than the 'upperworld' ;)

but, anyway, yes, i'd be glad too, to read a piece from your hands again.

keep in touch,
take care

1:53 AM  
Anonymous the iraqi roulette said...

Cilie, hi mate,

thanx for visiting. I prmise to post an epic soon! I promise.

Really ? did you hear that from trusted sources, do they really have better connection in the land of the living dead ??? hmmmmmm You are going to make me consider hopping over to "the other side". I do not want rivers of honey and milk , what I wish for most is a good old fashion conection . Ahhh ;-(


11:41 AM  
Anonymous Solo said...

Still with ya I.R.

7:24 AM  
Blogger cile said...

hm. very strange? how come while i read yesterday:
# Telephone subscribers. Prewar: 833,000 August 2006: 8,100,000 (nearly an order of magnitude increase)
# Car owners. Prewar: 1,500,000 October 2005: 3,100,000 (usage/traffic is 5x more than prewar)
# Internet subscribers. Prewar: 4,500 August: 197,310 (44x prewar)

I could make some easy remark about 'car-owners' but i won't do that. ;)
however, i didnt hear such good notes over that 'other side' and trusted sources could evolve in something else, always?

You can find thatnumbers behind the 'connectivity' link in the article here:

I'm a bit fascinated by that site, and curious of what you think of it?
Take a look if you feel like it, and have some connectivity to take a look in the first place. i hope!

hasta next!

10:27 AM  
Blogger jarvenpa said...

this is such a moving post. (and, fayrouz, "The Kite Runner" is being required reading in a local junior high school here in Northern California this year. Such a sad story, so beautifully written)..

4:37 PM  
Anonymous the iraqi roulette said...


Glad you are. I am really glad you are :-)


I do not know where to start from.The statistics maybe correct , but for "yours truely" it is difficult, cause the connectivity is related to the heat, water,threats to the local internet provider to close down and last but not least electricity and .. and so, I am the center of the universe in this case .

thanks so much friend for reading and being interested , somehow this blog is keeping me sane.

2:24 AM  
Blogger cile said...

'The statistics' are a prolem in some way, always!
Practically living 'statistics' most of times gives another idea than the numbers do. In some way it even was a small provocation of me. I mean, these are the numbers that i can see published, but then: what do these nrs have to do with reality of daily living the situations.

I am certainly glad with your anwswer, but must admit, when i read "somehow this blog is keeping me sane" some humid dripdrops popped into my eyes.

I mean, really, if there's one thing i can do: I will keep track.

take care
stay with

4:39 PM  
Blogger Fayrouz said...


I just finished reading his second novel "Thousand Splendid Suns." It's as moving as the "Kite Runner."

5:07 PM  
Blogger cile said...

yes, i read the Kite Runner to, and indeed it's a beautiful book. But IR, what's up? You're fine?

12:41 AM  
Anonymous the Iraqi Rulette said...

Dearest Faye,

You are making me jealous , I have not read the first one and here you are saying you are reading the second one. "Bakhat" as we say, (the word must be pronounced with a sigh) ;-)

I am Ok , and you have read it too? , hmmmmm, what are you conspiring against me or something?. I am reading AL Zahir , so there you are! , just so you may know .

Good bless

2:16 AM  
Blogger cile said...

well, it is not a conspiracy yet, but i could contact Fayrouz and make it one! then of course we would have to think about what should be our main goal, since that is always the case with conspiracies.
for now i'm thinking of getting all iraqis addicted to kite running!
a kite for a weapon!

and the book: al zahir, sufi that is?

stay well ;)

10:49 PM  
Anonymous the Iraqi Roulette said...


Al Zahir is from the soufi tradition of course , but I am readin Al Zahir by Paulo Coelho, check it out .
all the best

11:48 AM  
Blogger Don Cox said...

"how optimistic he was when Saddam was finally conquered"____Or so people thought, for a few weeks. Saddam has not been conquered yet - he is deep in the souls of too many Iraqis. And he himself was as much a symptom as a cause, as were Hitler, Stalin and other brutal dictators.

3:56 AM  
Blogger Change the World with Love said...

I'm really sorry about your friend. I see you haven't posted for awhile, I hope you are OK. I have lived through years of psychological hell, but I can't imagine what you are going through. There is so much chaos. I want to believe in a higher good. I wonder what that could be in Iraq's case, I wonder if all the demons need to come out and be cleansed: the demon of suppressing women, the demon of religious and tribal intolerance, and the demon of th love of warfare, of righteousness, and living by the sword. Maybe these things need to be cleansed in your culture. Just so you know that I am not immune to the effects of Iraq, I lost my 24 year old brother a month after he came back from being stationed.
I often think that the dead are lucky. They got to go home. They are at peace. We are still here to learn the lessons of rising above our animal and possessive nature, and choosing love and peace, even in the midst of war, depression, single-parenthood, corruption....I am working on praying, performing japa to improve my life, and to dispel negative powers, particularly Cheney, Bush and their friends. I'm sorry that I stopped praying on Iraq, Israel, or even anything for a long while. Prayer can do wonders.

11:14 PM  
Blogger cile said...

IR, how are you?
and where?
hope there are still people and things around you that can make you smile?
mybestwishes!! (drenched in sicilian ice-cream, or more precise: granita! this time ;)

11:56 PM  
Blogger Fayrouz said...

Dear I.R.

First I hope you're doing well. Please blog so we know you're still alive and kicking :-)

By me, Cile and Jarvenpa mentioning these books, our international reading movement gets stronger. That's our secret weapon. You need to join our forces.

Don't we all wish our world's biggest problem would be which book we haven't read yet? It would make for a good fantacy movie: The Lord of The Books.

7:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hoping you are well and that you can find some things to give you strength.


6:30 PM  
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3:06 AM  
Anonymous Solo said...

So what's up with you these days IR ? You don't call, you don't write. Don't make me have to come over there !! ; )

4:39 AM  
Anonymous the iraqi roulette said...

Dear Faye ,Cile, Marcelle, jarvenpa and of course Solo,
Sorry for the delay , I promise to publish very soon a story , Solo don't even think of coming over here , hell's gate is stil wide open .
take care friends
....and change the world with love; thank you so much for your comment

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Marcelle said...

So good to hear from you. I eagerly await your next story. Your writing warms my soul in ways I can't define.

4:09 PM  
Blogger cile said...

suspense!! :)

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Solo said...

IR "Don't make me have to come over there" is just a kind of expression. I'd be there if I could, but I can't see where I'd be much help. I sure have met quite a few Iraqis through these blogs that I would like to meet though. Looking forward to your next story.

4:48 AM  
Blogger Roger David said...

Hope the war on iraq ends soon with Obama.

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