Returning to Baghdad, 30 years later ( )
By Nesreen Melek*, Iraqi Poet. Axis of Logic
Axis of Logic
Tuesday, Jan 20, 2009
Editor’s Note: Our dear friend and poet, Nesreen Melek, returned to visit her country, Iraq, after 30 years. She sends us her lamentations for her country and her people who have been changed forever. – LMB
Dear Friends at Axis of Logic,
I left Baghdad the day before yesterday. I stayed there for sixteen days; it was my first visit since I left in 1978.
Baghdad was like a beautiful woman who aged in an ugly way, a woman who had an Alzheimer disease and lost connection with the outside world. Baghdad was raped by serial killers. They have so much hatred to anything that is Iraqi.
Neighborhoods in Baghdad are separated by walls and checkpoints are everywhere, although the soldiers are trying to make the checkpoints look as good as possible, so they decorated it with plastic roses and plants. Americans are still pointing their guns on the Iraqis thinking that Baghdad is now an American city. Streets in Baghdad are not paved, and dust covers the whole city. Dijlah is no longer the river which poetry was recited praising it’s beauty, the sky is no longer the clear sky, the air is not longer the clean air, people are sad, they don’t have hopes or dreams. There are no smiles on children’ faces.
What a loss.. What a loss
During my stay, I was overwhelmed with love, tenderness, care and giving from family members, friends and people I didn’t know. Their love will warm my heart and body in these cold days here in Canada. Despite the pain, Iraqis are still capable of giving and spreading their love to others.
I left Baghdad in the late seventies keeping a beautiful image in my eyes and heart. I left Baghdad this time with an ugly image. Baghdad is no longer the city I once knew. But in both times, I realise that I left Baghdad but Baghdad had never left me. What is in Baghdad that people get so attached to?
Back to Toronto, where the snow covers everything, where people are rushing to meet deadlines, where people are connected to computers, where people are busy, not knowing that somewhere in this world, people are suffering because there are murderers who killed innocent people by the name of democracy. I am part of this circle. I am going to work today, and my coworkers will think that I was on a nice vacation. People go home for a vacation but I went home to witness the ugliness of the American war on my country and to learn not to forgive or forget the atrocities of the killers.
I will continue with my life here, but I will never forget the face of the little Iraqi girl who I smiled to but she turned her face away from me. I asked her to look at me but she refused… Was she blaming me of taking the smile away from her face? How many family members did she lose during the war and what was her story? I stretched my hand to reach hers, but she run away. What went on in her mind may be that she thought that I was one of them.
The little girl’s face reminded me of all our losses, I kept asking myself, “Who gave the Americans the right to ruin the Iraqi children’s life? And why do American children have the right to live a better life than the Iraqi children?
Baghdad and the face of this little girl will stay in my memory and my heart until I will go for a visit, another time.
Love you all,
Axis of Logic is the original source