Monday, 12 May 2008

Strings of Sadness

Someone sent me a piece from a song by Marcel Khalifeh. He asked me to translate it for him. He also said he suffered a bad psychotic episode some months ago, and he wondered how the Iraqis must feel like in their heads...

I translated the piece for him. The song is called "ya oud" - o'luth

"ya oud, the night's companion.
you weep on velvet and you hurt,
you travel to the farthest distances of the world and return,
you write and erase borders, ya oud...
tell me about your evenings in your marble castles
tell me of the fountains and the clinking of glasses,
tell me of the hips that sway and the silk that flies...
you wander not sleeping,
and your voice is like rain...
and you voice drips of sweetness
ya oud"

I love the Oud, for many reasons.

One is that the Oud-Luth, was introduced to the West via Al-Andalus from Mosul, around the 11th Century by an Iraqi called Zeryab.

From the Oud, other string instruments were later developed.

The Oud was later taken on by the Troubadours in the Middle Ages and became a symbol for Love ballads.

And today you have the luth, the guitar-son of the luth, the violin and the cello who has its origins in the Rababa - another musical instrument from the desert.

And today you have music. Music to your ears...

It was an Iraqi who first gave it to you. He was the first one to move you and an Iraqi will be the last one to move you as well.

Hence the Oud has a strong symbolic meaning for me. It touches me beyond anything you can imagine...

I will therefore share with you, the Joubran Trio from Ramallah, the West Bank, Occupied Palestine.

I discovered them about a year ago, when I was browsing CD's. And I secretly kept this discovery to myself, selfishly so.

But today, I will reveal it to you.

I will reveal it to you for many reasons.

For the past two days, Gaza has been without electricity, fuel or bread.
Palestinian infants have already died in the only Pediatric hospital in Gaza. Infants relying on machines to live.

Today across the Rafah border, a little Palestinian girl, not more than 6 years old, was waiting to receive treatment in an Egyptian hospital, for kidney dialysis.

She spoke on TV. She looked 60 years old. Her eyes were puffed and she had huge brown bags underneath her lovely eyes. She explained to the spectator which is you, that she's been without dialysis for over 3 days, due to the embargo imposed on Gaza by the criminal called Israel. She said, it was important for any patient to have treatment otherwise he/she would die. She is only 6.

Another woman had a retina detached, and she was hoping to get some treatment as she was going blind...

A third had severe burns and wounds from Israeli jet explosives...

And so it went...

This reminded me of the sanction years, this reminded me of today's Iraq.
This reminded me of the half a million Iraqi babies in mass graves from 13 years of sanctions. A huge cemetery...little white tombs placed next to one another, thousands of them...and the Silence whistled...

the Silence whistled among the trees and the tombs...
It even composed a song,
It also played the oud,
ya Oud, ya Oud,
you weep on sand
you weep on walls
your tears water the earth
like the dusk's dew
and there grows
a thousand flowers,
a million flowers
from your tears
ya Oud...

If half a million Iraqi babies did not move you then, a million Iraqis do not move you today, Gaza does not move now, will Zeryab and his oud move you ?

I doubt it.

P.S: For those who were moved by the Joubran Trio from Ramallah-Occupied Palestine, you can check more of their oud pieces here , here and here. And do thank Zeryab from Mosul - Occupied Iraq.

Painting : Iraqi artist, Qutaiba Sheikh Nouri.