madly in love with Iraq


The Wedding

I was on my way to a wedding, a very conservative Iraqi wedding to be precise; I hate women-only parties and I did think a lot about the wasted time and energy and the nonsense I have to put up with, but I had to go.

It was raining heavily, in fact it has not stopped raining all week, and the temperatures have dropped as well, for heaven’s sake we are nearly in June! Even nature is not fair, a bit of this breeze back home will help a lot, a bit will cool down the moods, shorten the fuel queues and might, only might activate the mercy hormone in the hearts of some!

I tried to cheer myself up by imagining myself going in there and having a great time, but deep down inside, I knew that this is only wishful thinking.
I switched on some Iraqi music on the way to prepare myself; the songs reminded me of a friend who solely decided not to be my friend anymore, so that did not help either.

Everything associated with Iraq is sad and gloomy, this has always been the case for as long as I can remember. It makes me really wonder sometimes why am I madly in love with Iraq? Why do I keep on running away from Iraqis only to find myself dying to be among them?

I walked in the hotel and was guided to the party hall.
In the entrance a group of women in black were greeting the visitors quietly in very low voices as if we were attending a memorial service rather than a happy occasion.

Inside the hall the atmosphere was completely different.

The place was full of women in very colourful and revealing clothes, something I’ve always noticed in women wearing hijab in particular, they do exaggerate in showing their assets.. as if to prove that they are covering it by choice, and they are indeed attractive and sexy like others if not more!
There was no music; all I could hear was the loud hum of conversation.

I sat down in my assigned place, on my table there were four other women, I knew one of them only, she was with me in the same University, I don’t really know her very well, but at least a familiar face. I started speaking to suss her out, I talked a bit about my work, and in no time I could see that she was looking through me rather than at me, so I shut up. To make things even worse, she suddenly asked me “How do you cook the meat in this country? It stinks doesn’t it?” and without waiting for my answer, she explained to me in details her original procedure in dealing with British meat!

I looked at the couple of women in front of me, and gave them a broad smile, the younger one started to speak to me immediately, the usual personal questions, her mother got interested and jumped in “How come you live alone? Your family has to be very open-minded to let you stay in here”. I ignored her and asked the daughter of what she thinks of the situation in Iraq? “It is getting awful” she said, “and since we are originally Turkish, I stopped saying we are from Iraq, they think we are savages you know”. Can you see that woman to the left; she pointed out at someone, “What about her?” “Oh you don’t know her? Her husband is one of the candidates for the interior ministry, look at how she is behaving; probably she thinks she will end up 12 feet under rather than 6 like the rest of us!” I gave up on those two and turned aside and looked at my last hope the only woman left on the table!

I’ve seen you before she said; apparently she was eavesdropping, those women are life-loving and shallow, don’t take any notice of them; we have to work hard and prepare ourselves for the other life and get more spiritual.

We were interrupted by someone announcing the arrival of the groom, suddenly all were busy covering themselves, and by the time he went in, I realised that more than three quarters of the women were in hijab. They started playing some religious chants and the poor 18years old bride especially imported from Iraq, raised her head a bit and got a glimpse of all the devouring eyes staring at her.

By then I felt I was suffocating and decided to go out for some fresh air. As I was strolling around I noticed two women smoking and laughing loudly; “Can I join you?” I asked, “Of course you can” one of them replied. They were cousins, one of them lived in London for the last ten years and the other has just arrived from Basra for a training course. The new arrival was telling me, that she would never have dreamt of attending such a lousy wedding in London, even in Basra we don’t have such a thing. What happened to the music and the dance?
If those bunch inside want to live like this, why don’t they go back home?
I lost a father and a brother in one year, they were slaughtered by the new lunatics just like that, since then I lost faith in everything; I would give half my life if they allow me to stay here and enjoy the other half peacefully.

The other woman was silent, and then suddenly started laughing hysterically; you know what, my beloved husband took my two small children and ran away back to Iraq, he says I am a bad mother, and he wants to raise my girls properly away from this place. I will give half my life to know their whereabouts.

I went back to greet the newly wed, and I deliberately kissed the 33years old groom whom I knew and his family for such a long time. He was embarrassed and clenched hard on his beads string; I thought well; if he and his family have decided to put on a new face, I haven’t changed one bit.

I was right; I did not have a good time. These places often make me feel that I am so alone, and that there are very few balanced Iraqis left.

I kept on thinking of what is worth giving half my life to though!