Sunday, February 01, 2004

Friday 30/1
I am planning to visit Amman, Jordan during the midterm vacation time. I feel tired and sad, I need a change of routine away from all the psychological pressures. When I get tired I become agitated and I am impatient with other people. Usually that is a sign that I need a vacation. I miss our small apartment there, its furniture is new and hasn’t been worn out by the kids and guests. It is on the third floor. The apartment is not crowded with furniture like our house in Baghdad. The apartment has a class covered balcony, which I sit in frequently to look at Amman’s beautiful buildings. Amman is full of beautiful, stone constructed buildings similar to the traditional style. It is an expensive wy to build but it is beautiful. It also makes the building more sturdy.
I spent many years of my life in Amman working as civil engineer. I designed houses, housing complexes and governmental schools. It was a beautiful time in my life. I had many women engineer friends and also male engineer co-workers. I am proud of these friendships. During that time I was active in the engineering association, I was in the social committee. We would organize forums, national celebrations, political events, depending on the occasions. At the time I felt that it was beautiful to do union work, until politics get involved and then it all becomes ugly. Certain cliques stick together and attempt to gain power at the expense of others. Competition and self interest and the association turns into a body that serves certain people only. This group controls everything and attempts to stymie everybody else. Discussions become tense, some people take sides to win votes, they form a coalition and then breakup again. How embarrassing. I don’t like to be close to this atmosphere, I don’t understand their language and I don’t like it. I feel there is too much focus on self interest and little attention paid to public interest. So I left that committee and joined the scientific committee. There we had no politics and no competition. We would host various engineers to talk to us about interesting and unique engineering matters. For example, one of the talks was about cracks that happen to buildings as a result of earth quakes or bad implementation.
Another talk was about new engineering methods. After the forum we would make tea and get to know each other. I mean the attendants, committee members and the lecturing professor. That was an enjoyable experience. The kids were small at that time (in primary school), I had a Seri Lankan servant, I used to love and shower her with effection, because she was a poor woman that left her own family to secure a better future for her own children. She was very affectionate with the children, I trusted her to take care of them while I was away.
Azzam used to complain. However I was studious in my activism which was another source of happiness for me. I had lots of energy. I would work during the morning, take care of the kids in the afternoon and sometimes work on activities for the association. Despite the fact that I had conflicts with hateful types that belonged to political parties and hate anybody that disagree with them. I am very independent and I don’t belong to any political parties, I would deal with these people sternly. I found it to be empowering. To be independent is to be a king. No master hovering over your head. After a while I was fed up with the association activities and distanced myself from the
association. The independently minded people were in the weak minority. The politically oriented people were the annoying majority that ruined the atmosphere. So I started to write short stories for the newspapers. With a different pen name. I was afraid of criticisms from my husband or his family. I lived happy days in Amman. Despite the fact that I came to it as a shy scared foreigner. I was in my twenties. I left Amman as a mature woman with many useful experiences. I went back to beloved Baghdad in my thirties, after a long estrangement. Amman is a hilly city with beautiful landscape. Very different from flat Baghdad. Amman has many tall buildings whereas Baghdad has any
flat buildings. Winters in Amman are long and very cold. Whereas summers in Baghdad are long and very hot. Amman people are more elegant and more organized than people in Baghdad. This applies to clothing and houses. Maybe it is because they didn’t have the same hard times like people in Iraq.
When I returned to Baghdad, I would be surprised by the university professor that would show up to lecture in an un-ironed shirt. After a while, seeing the harshness of life in Baghdad, I appreciated the depression that must be felt by a person who leaves the house in an un-ironed shirt. I am not biased. I have lived in many countries and traveled as a tourist to many places but never found a place where I get along with the people and understand them like the Iraqi people. The good and the bad. I don’t know. But I love them even when I become angree at some their stupid behavior.
Isn’t this the same feeling I have towards my own children?
I will go to Amman tomorrow or maybe the day after. Maybe I won’t get the chance to write while I am there. My heart will be with Baghdad all the time. I remember a verse in a poem by Al-Sayab (Iraqi poet)
I am wondering how do the traitors betray
Can a person betray his country
If betrayal was meant to be
So how could it be?
The sun in my country is more beautiful than any other
And the darkness… even the darkness here is better
Because it is hugging Iraq.
[translation by]

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