Tuesday 16 September 2008

A Snapshot at the Fountain.

I really have the blues tonight. Could it be a conversation I had with someone, or maybe I got up from the wrong side of the bed, or maybe the encounter at the fountain, this afternoon.

I trust my legs to take me where they need to go...So when I go walking, I just let them lead the path, my own way of letting go, I suppose.

I walked for over an hour, and I really don't know how it happened but I stopped in front of some fountain. An old mosaic fountain. The water was not gushing with force, simply dribbling, caressing the fountain head only to fall in some nearly empty basin, a sad looking fountain, a sort of neglected fountain which probably had its heydays, its glory way back...but no longer.

I just stood there, and just looked at it, for some unknown reason...
I had no coin attached to some wish, to throw, but I guess I must have wished for something, am not sure what it was though...Maybe one of my usual ramblings with myself...or some secret hope, that I don't even utter to myself.

I was so intensely taken by this fountain and my own little inner universe that I paid no attention to what was happening around me. I do remember the place being totally empty when I first arrived. That is probably why I allowed myself to linger on...

Then suddenly, a woman totally dressed in black with a digital camera, stood next to me. She was wearing an Abaya, all black, and the Abaya was covering another black outfit, and on her hair was another black scarf covered by the Abaya. I heard her say to the two other women with her, "Take a picture of me." And she grimaced and let out a shrieking laughter...

She had her back to the fountain, she had her back to the timid water while I was facing it. I wish I was a photographer, it would have made a perfect black and white snapshot. Somehow our two figures standing next to one another, but facing opposite directions was very telling. Telling on some level that I did not comprehend there and then.

The two other women approached the fountain, and I could feel one getting too close to me. I could sense her curiosity, she looked at the fountain and finding nothing of interest there, turned her back and asked for another snapshot. I did not move, I just stood there motionless. I heard the accent. I knew its origins.

These three women were accompanied by three men. They all approached the fountain, but they all turned their backs and opted for yet another snapshot. Two of the men had their shirts buttoned up with no ties, even though they were dressed in suits. And of course the proverbial three day unshaven beard.

The silver rings shone alongside the silver colored digital cameras.

I understood they were some sort of delegation, an official delegation taking a break for a couple of hours.

A delegation from Iraq dressed in black Abayas, in black chadors, Iranian style with men wearing no ties, Iranian style. The uniform was a giveaway.

Something in me trembled. Still I did not move. Could they really be my fellow country men and women ? Since when do Iraqi delegations walk around looking like some Iranian officials? In black chadors ? Iraq has become a black chador ? Oh my God, reality never ceases to settle in... An inescapable reality.

One of the women kept staring at me, as if to figure me out, maybe she could find a cue that could tell her who I was or where I came from. The man with no tie, carrying a laptop and another digital camera, smiled...I tried a faint smile but he must have noticed my lips quivering. As I looked into his eyes, I wondered how many death lists he had ordered and signed. As I looked into her eyes, I wondered how many times she rejoiced at the news of some Iraqi being abducted, tortured and murdered.

I moved away, slightly, to one side, as if putting a distance between us, an invisible distance, an invisible barrier, an invisible wall. A bit like the walls they constructed. I did not even try to beautify it with any colors like I would do to any wall. I just left it blank, empty, void...

I continued staring at the fountain, its old worn out mosaic pieces, some were missing, some were chipped, some were erased with time and neglect. I tried to imagine it flowing again, brimming with pure limpid water, with a million copper and silver coins reverberating at the bottom, coins filled with wishes and well wishers...

I tried, I tried very hard, but the shadow of this black wall obscured my imagination, as if sucking life out of it, out of me, drying it up...
And all I had left was a timid water, trickling softly, caressing an old, abandoned, erased mosaic Fountain.

Painting : Iraqi artist, Ghaib Al-Janabi.