Thursday, January 25, 2007


I find it interesting that I was born and raised during the Iran-Iraq War which brought eight years of horror, terror and tragedy for Iranians and Iraqis. The war ended and all that remained of it was the name of thousands of martyrs. Now in 2007, during these terrifying days of the US War in Iraq, I live in the United States. In another words I arrived in this world during a war with Iraq and I became an adult during yet another war in Iraq. Having grown up in Iran and with many slogans and songs about the Iran-Iraq War and against Saddam Hussein, I always considered Iraq, the enemy of Iran. And later on in the US, I kept on hearing about Iraq and Saddam Hussein as threats to the US. In a way, Iraq has always been considered the enemy.
Now, however, things have changed in my mind. I no longer care about political facts about Iraq, its contemporary history, its views on Iran and etc. I do not care whether Iraq is in a war with Iran, the US or Mars. Whenever I think about Iraq, all that conquers my mind is the life of young Iraqi women. I could only think about young Iraqi women’s faces, their pain, their eyes, their desires, burdens, hopes, dreams, their anger and a million other things that they have to confront everyday and every night of their lives. I wish I could somehow tell young Iraqi women that soon there will be a day when the world will have to hear all of their stories, that their experiences and their stories matter for the human race, that they must survive, that they are beautiful, that they are strong and that their existence matters.


I wake up in the morning. The TV is on. The morning news is all about the explosions that the night before took place in Iraq. I check the news online. The first news title is about even more bloodshed in Iraq. Iraq…Baghdad…death…weapons…explosions…chaos…
I wash my face, brush my teeth, look in the mirror and put on makeup.
I see Ahlam in the background. I see myself in the mirror and then I see another face, another body, another pair of young feminine eyes in the background. We are standing side by side.
“Ahlam”, she says. We stare at each other through the mirror for a few seconds. Still looking at her, I say, “Azadeh”. She is beautiful-naturally beautiful-. She looks at me as I try to carefully draw a thin black line under my eyes. My mother calls my name, “Azadeh…Azadeh…your tea is getting cold”. I ignore her words. Ahlam says, “Your mother is calling you”. She continues, “My mother died yesterday, so did my father, my sister and my little brother”. And I do not hear the rest. I make myself deaf to her story. I look back in the mirror. I see her big eyes that are lively and full of youth and of anger. Her lips are still moving. Ahlam is talking, telling me of her past, of her family members who as of yesterday are non-existing; of the pain in her wound…I still do not hear her words. I am deaf to her stories. They scare me. What could I do for her? She shows me her wound. I start to cry. The black line around my eyes is now scattered all over my face. She covers up the wound with her sleeve. To distract me, she points to my earrings and smiles. I say, “yeah, I know, they are pretty, aren’t they? My friend gave them to me for my birthday”. She smiles. Her smile soon changes to a frown caused by a sudden pain in her wound. She manages to bring the smile back on her lips and says, “Jan 8th, 1985, 2 am. Our date of birth. You were born in Tehran and I was born in Baghdad. We were born at the same time. We were born as enemies”. She giggles and I cry. I could hear the TV in the bathroom, “In today’s explosion in Baghdad, 100 more Iraqi civilians died”. I cover my ears with my hands. No more…No more please…I beg you…No more…

Ahlam’s wound hurts. She is in so much pain that does not even have the energy to mourn her family’s death. I am late for my class. To get to my GRE- the graduate school exam in the US- preparation class, I have to walk to the red line subway station, take the red line to Park Street, get on the green line, get off at Newton Center and walk for 5 minutes. On the way, I have to remember to get my cup of Café Late, chocolate chip muffin and mint gum and a bottle of water. My cell phone rings. I pick it up. It is my friend who is also in Boston this month. He asks me if I want to hang out with him and his friends tonight and I say, “Yes”. We decide to meet up later this evening. I am late for my class. I look in the mirror again to fix my hair. Ahlam covers her wound with her hand, smiles and says, “You will be on time. Don’t worry”. She pats my shoulder, whispers to my ear, “We are one soul in two feminine bodies” and she turns around and walks away. I yell out her name with my Persian accent, “Ahlam!” My mother says from the other room, “What did you say? Your tea is already cold. What are you doing wearing all that makeup. Are you going to a wedding?” Ahlam looks back at me and says quietly, “My family’s funeral is around the same time as your GRE class. I am late, too. I have to go back. They are waiting for me. I will be one of the few people there. I have to go”. I could now hear the analysis of today’s breaking news, “‘Today has been one of the most tragic days of this past month in Baghdad’”. I go to kiss my mom and to say bye to her. She is watching the news. They show awful pictures of today’s explosion. My mom looks at my red nose and asks me if I have cried. I remain silent and point to the news headlines. She gives me a Mona Lisa smile, hugs me and kisses me. I tell her about Ahlam. She tells me that I have to stop reading the news for a few days and that she thinks reading the news is making me sick.

I am not getting sick. Ahlam was really here. I felt her hand on my shoulder. I talked with her. She talked with me. We exchanged smiles. I saw her painful wound. We were born on the same day, in the same year, at the same time. She is like a sister to me now.
I am late. So is Ahlam. I take a sip of my tea. It is cold now. So are the bodies of Ahlams’ parents, sister and brother. I am late. So is Ahlam. My sister, Ahlam.


At 1:09 AM, March 05, 2007, Blogger Lucia said...

Yes, I know just what you mean. Too often we write off human experience as "other" forgetting that all that really separates us is circumstance.

At 2:33 AM, March 24, 2007, Blogger Siun said...

Thank you for this very special piece ... how often we forget we are all sisters and brothers.


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