Thursday 28 May 2009

A Question.

I keep asking myself that same question, and I have not received an answer yet...

I keep asking myself,

how many times can one person have her/his dreams shattered, broken into small crumbs,

how many times can one person have her/his heart ripped out of its ribcage,

how many times can one person have her/his hopes ridiculed, stepped upon,

how many times can one person be abused with lies, manipulated, deceived and still be asked to trust,

how many times can all of that happen and one not lose faith ?

Wednesday 27 May 2009

A Proposal...

You know something, women complain a lot about men, but frankly most of the time, they are their own worst enemies...and end up being terrible enablers of the kind of men they actually complain about.

It's like they have been socialized/brought up in the art of self-sabotage...
They favor ILLUSIONS of romantic Love to Truth, and forfeit their mental (and physical) well being and Happiness for Security.

They say -- you can't choose your family but you sure can choose your friends and I'd add you sure can choose your male partners, as well.

Some have no choice in the matter, or let me put it differently -- it might be too late for them because they are up to their necks in some rocky marriage, with kids and all...but others, those who have not tied the knot, do...and am particularly thinking of this latter category.

This friend of mine W. called me today. She sounded frantic, anxious and on the verge of a nervous collapse...

- What the hell happened to you ?

- A. has proposed

I know who A. is...He is a good looking, well connected, suave, flashy, relatively well off, dodgy, sleaze bag. I met him twice, never liked him. Actually that's the wrong word. It's not that I did not like him, he actually repulsed me...He was not vulgar or anything, just his vibes gave me the shivers...

- Ah good, this is what you wanted, no ? You've always wanted to marry A.

- Yes but, my family is not agreeing to him, and I really, really, love him but am not too sure...anymore.

- And why this doubt all of sudden ? you kept repeating (more like harassing me) that life is meaningless without him...

- I don't know Layla, maybe you can help me.

I hate it when my friends consider me some relationship agony columnist, but that's what friends are for, I suppose...even though am starting to have doubts about that too.

I thought to myself, baby steps, baby thing at a time.

- Well, you know W. am not exactly a romantic love expert...

- Oh but Layla, you do come across as so wise...Of course W. has not been a witness to my own folly...

- W., I don't know about me being wise, but let's work it through together. What is it you like about him ? Here I was, trying to be "objective."

- He's good looking, when we're together it's fun, but you know he's always busy so I don't get to see much of him, he sends me a text message every morning telling me he loves me, his friends are so interesting...(his friends are actually the pits, I met a few of them), he's financially comfortable, he's travelled a lot...(yes, am sure. I can already tell what his "travels" consisted of)

- W., you still have not told me what is it you like about him as a person ?!

- Hmm, Layla what do you mean ?

- Ya'ani, I mean what are his qualities as a person ?

A pause at the other end of the receiver...

- W., are you still here ?

- Yes am thinking, Layla...

- You're thinking or you're digging hard to find the qualities ?

- Oh Layla but I love him so...mind you, I did realize that he has been lying to me about several issues, but I love him, I really love him...

Actually rumor has it that this A. is known to be a compulsive liar. We say in Arabic -- he makes elephants fly -- everybody sees it except W., naturally.

- Hmm, what else you don't like about him, apart from the fact that he has lied to you several times ?

Another long pause...and I was getting rather impatient, as I had one hundred other things to do...damn it am not some matrimonial expert.

- Well, R. said she saw him with other women...but I think R. is lying.

Actually I saw him driving with another woman, too...

- Well, maybe R. is not lying...

- No, no, Layla, he's not like that...I know he's very busy with work, he doesn't have time for other women, and he loves me, I know he loves him...

I was starting to get edgy...I could not take this B.S. anymore. This woman knew what her guy was all about but she was denying it to herself, because she was hooked to some illusion of romantic love and the whole package that comes with it...

- Okay W., let me ask you this -- if you had a daughter and she tells you she wants to marry a copy of A. what would you tell her ?

I will stop here. Because this is a question I believe, every woman (and man) should ask herself, (himself) when she is contemplating marriage.

She should ask herself the following : Would I accept my daughter marry the type of guy, am considering as a life partner ?


He should ask himself the following : Would I accept my daughter marry the type of guy I actually am ?

I know what my answer would be, but do you know what yours is ?

The proposal may sound nice to the ears, but watch out for who is making it.

I will always remember what my best friend told me "If it's bad in the beginning, it's worse in the end." And no, some things and some people don't change just because you decided to love them or just because they decided to marry you...

I better stop now, because I am definitely starting to sound like some sentimental relationship agony columnist...besides I have a wonderful, hot, spicy curry cooking and I sure don't want to spoil the whole "broth".

Bon Appétit.

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Yaqeen Al-Dulaimi

The Madness of Love...

A beautiful Love Poem by Maulana Jalal Al-Deen Al-Rumi.

Recited in Persian by Bahman Solati, with English subtitles.

Tuesday 26 May 2009

Scents & Petals...

What a pleasant day...As am typing, the windows are wide open, the mosquitoes are bugging the hell out of me, and the smell of Jasmin fills the room...

Today was a peculiar day of scents and petals...Jasmin is the closing chapter for tonight. But this morning, I smelled some perfume as I woke up, it was not mine for sure...and that smell did not leave me all day...

Then I went out for some errands, and I usually pass by this florist shop...I never took much notice of , since this is not the florist I usually buy my flowers from...but today I noticed not only the fragrance of flowers coming from the shop, but also hundreds of petals at the entrance, covering parts of the pavement.

I had seen those petals before, but had not paid much attention...I thought --yes that's pretty...But today they looked different...or I looked differently at them.

It turns out that this florist, instead of throwing away the wilted flowers, picks their petals and places them in front of his shop, as a welcoming mat...a welcoming carpet of rose petals...

Beautiful in its simplicity, don't you agree ?

Painting : Iraqi female artist, Hayat Jamil Hafidh.

Monday 25 May 2009

Leftist Blues...

Oh my, I sure am in some mood today...

Frankly, I have to admit it out loud, am no longer some revolutionary leftist...
If you absolutely need to pigeon hole me, then you can call me a conservative revolutionary...If you can figure out what that means, then good luck to you.

I am terribly tired with leftist slogans...I am tired of hearing the same shit repeated year after year and I look at myself and those around me...and it feels like someone has definitely been pissing in the wind.

Am tired of the leftist jargon, clichés, slogans and banners...I am tired of seeing the act, the package of looks...the fucking beret à la Che, the pony tails and the angry eyes that have led to nothing...I am tired of hearing the discourse, the self proclaimed atheist who is greater than God, the not too sure agnostic kissing ass both ways, the songs of nostalgia to something that never was...and the comrade...what fucking comrade ? the comrade that beats the drums for sub-occupations, or the comrade that dances to the tunes of some pseudo revolutionary sectarian belly dance under the name of the "thawra" and the "kadiyeh" (revolution and cause)

There are no fucking comrades...that was in the old bygone days, where you would sit around cups of coffee, whiskey and wine and plan for "revolutionary change" that never took place...because you were too fucking busy sitting around cups of coffee, whiskey and wine...theorizing, writing articles and a few poetry lines...and pointing the finger...

I am tired of the arrogant defensiveness that follows failures...

I am tired of hearing about revolutions that never happened...I am tired of hearing "intelligent" quotes from Engels, Marx, Sartre, De Beauvoir, Rosa Luxembourg, Trostky and now they have added the new gurus, Dawkins and Hitchens...

Borrowed they have borrowed Time... and they puff themselves up with both...until no one was left around...

None of that masquerade touches me anymore. I have seen through the act, I know it by heart, I can even play it for you...I have rehearsed it too, just like you have...

I am also tired of reading, hearing the Feminist discourse...the Western shit and its double standards and its hypocrisy...

Go free yourselves first, if you can, and remove pictures of your nude bodies, remove them from that detergent/soap/yogurt/cream/lotion/soup -- package, if you can...Do that first, then come and preach into my head...

I am tired of political wankers and political sluts...

I want to amass all the words, all the phrases, all the terminologies, all the banners, all the parties and throw them into one huge bonfire...

I want to celebrate around a bonfire and sing the Halloween Blues of the Left...

Until nothing is left.

To My Great Grandmother...

She visited me in a dream, a week ago...her beautiful serene face surrounded by her daughter (my grand mother) and her a black and white picture...I am not sure what she wanted to tell me, her Arabic remained rusty despite years in Iraq and despite being married to an Iraqi Arab...I can only guess...

I dedicate this song to her, from L.Chamamyan, an Armenian Syrian singer.

Sunday 24 May 2009

Sex in Islam.

I need you to read the above title several times...
Just in case you missed the meaning, I will repeat it again - Sex in Islam.
I did not entitle it sex amongst Muslims, neither did I call it sexual practices in the Islamic World, nor did I call it the state of sexual relations in the Muslim world...I called it Sex in Islam.

By that I am referring to the concept/notion of Sex/Sexuality and I shall be using those two terms interchangeably in Islamic thought. Islamic thought means - the text, i.e the Holy Koran, the Hadiths or Sunna, and exegesis or Islamic Jurisprudence. And am no Jurist, thank God, nor am I a theologian, thank God again.

This is a blog post, and I do not want this to turn into a boring long essay, so I will make it as simple as possible.

The reason for this particular post, is because there are too many stereotypes, misunderstandings, and misconceptions around Sexuality in Islam and by correlation too many misconceptions and stereotypes regarding the Body in Islam and by consequence the Female Body in Islam which will eventually bring us to Women in Islam. This last point I will not cover here. I think by tackling the Islamic view on Sex/Sexuality, I would have already by then, demystified a lot of the garbage that revolves around Women in Islam. But you need to use your brains for that - like in logical deductions...

Let's start from the very beginning. And beginnings are important because they are not only starting points but they also set the framework from which all else flows...

Islam i.e the Koranic text clearly departs with a clean break from the previous Judeo-Christian messages on two levels, which for me are essential.

1) The NON-EXISTENT idea of Eve's temptation in the Garden of Eden and consequently her being responsible for Adam's Fall. The Koranic text clearly points to the shared responsibility for/in the "Fall".

2) The Koranic Text is DEVOID of the concept of "Original Sin."

Nice start, don't you think ?

Eve and her female progeny are let off the hook from the very beginning.
Hence their bodies are too. So is their Sexuality.

The concept of the Body (Flesh) is pivotal in Islamic thought. For the body is the vehicle, the recipient of the Divine message. Hence it makes perfect logic that in the Muslim prayer, there is a TOTAL involvement of the body (through specific sets of movements). A body in movement. I will not go into the meaning of each "rak'aa" or prostration. As I said I will keep it simple.

A body in movement that reflects the movement of the Universe/Cosmos/Creation.

Just pondering on the above, you can see for yourself that sex/sexuality cannot be considered as anything emanating from the Devil as in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
Now am aware that some Judeo Christian gnostics have cut loose from the above message, but am sticking to mainstream Judeo-Christian tradition here.

Sex/Sexuality or the Libido is Energy in Islam. A God given one, like everything else in Creation. Not only that, it is albeit the Quintessential Life giving Energy.
It serves two functions - procreation and pleasure. Procreation in Pleasure and Pleasure without Procreation.

Since Sex is not equated with Sin, the desire/pleasure aspect of it is essentially free from the concept of Guilt as well.

But as with anything Divine, comes a set of responsibilities. The Khalifa on Earth, God's vicegerent, this is how The Human Being is referred to in the Text, is also a responsible agent.

Pleasure yes, but also Responsibility (also called duties/obligations) and with Responsibility comes Accountability.

Hence Marriage becomes the terrain where this life energy is allowed to manifest and be exercised...

Now I need to qualify something here. Marriage in Islamic thought is NOT an Institution in the traditional sense. It really is a contract, which will form the basis, the starting point for a family and ensure the idea of continuity of God's vicegerents on Earth...

There are many types of Marriage contracts but I will not go into them I do not wish to complicate matters.

Marriage becomes the "legal" or responsible vehicle for Sex. Marriage as opposed to celibacy. In fact marriage is greatly encouraged and celibacy is frowned upon. That makes sense since Sex is only permissible within the framework of the marriage contract.

And marriage contracts are really easy. They are not a complicated affair like in the West. The easiness of it is due to the fact that Marriage is the only conduit where Sex is allowed to take expression. With or without procreation, because contraception is not considered a Sin either, in Islamic thought. Which confirms the idea that the pleasure principle is encouraged...

The pleasure principle is applicable to both sexes. In Islamic Jurisprudence, it is incumbent upon a man to satisfy his wife sexually and vice versa.

In the Sharia, failure to do so, allows the wife to recourse to divorce. For instance if a man abstains from sex with his wife for a period of 30 days with no legitimate reason, she may divorce him. Unfortunately many women are unaware or do not exercise their Islamic rights. And unfortunately Islamic Sharia as it stands today has been hijacked by misogynistic male theologians who have perverted the Message and done much harm in the process...

Entrusted by the Divine, the boundaries between the Sacred and the Profane in the Body concept are not at odds with each other. They are not opposing forces...
And this is where the role of Ritual comes into play, to mark the transition from Profane to Sacred, not once a week, but daily, five times a in the Islamic prayer...till the lines are blurred...till the realization dawns that All is Sacred, including Sex.

Painting : Iraqi artist, A.Al-Twaij.

Friday 22 May 2009

The Daughter,

The Blower's Daughter...

Wednesday 20 May 2009

From the Window...

This is an old Tarab song, originally by the Egyptian Abdul Mutalib or Sayyed Darwish, am not quite sure anymore...

A remixed version, again with more beat to it by R.Ayach.

I can't translate all the lyrics for you, but the jist is " And from the window, I will throw myself for you..." lol.

Now I can think of a few I wouldn't mind seeing falling from a window, hopefully from a top floor.

Anyways, here's the song. I don't like to post too many youtube videos, because I don't always like the way they are made, but since Imeem no longer allows more than 30 sec of a song, I have no choice but...

Well, at least R.Ayach is a cutie, and his pictures are easy on the eyes. Not my type though, and I will definitely not throw myself from a window for...nor for anyone else, for that matter.

Monday 18 May 2009

Indulging in a Little Narcissism...

I like that song - Al Layl Ya Layla. A classic by Wadi Al-Safi. I am opting for a version with more beat to it by R.Ayash.

The Night O' Layla, tortures me
and tells me say Hello to Layla
Love's torments will not cease
unless Love sings to you, ya Layla

The neighborhood's alleys question me
has Layla left
And my share of Passion
carries me to your eyes, ya Layla.

For your sake, the Moon rises
all timid, on his guards,
and how much he delights
travelling in the depth of your eyes
Ya Layla...

Hahahahahahahaha -- enjoy the song, with or without Layla.

Sunday 17 May 2009

To " Z.K. "

I know you love this song. You keep humming it. So here it is.
Thank you for being in my life.

Saturday 16 May 2009

To and From an Abu Ghraib Survivor

I am terribly distressed, words are imprisoned in my throat, I am their detainee no.O - Zero. I can't write anything, my hands are tied...I feel nothing, my skin is numb.

More cover up from Abu Ghraib. I need to spit it out, but I am stuck, am stuck for now. I can only offer a mirror play tonight.

Monday 11 May 2009

Just a Gigolo.

I dedicate this song to all the Playboys, Casanovas, Don sum to all the Gigolos I have come across in my life.

Please consider it my parting present. *KISS*

Who said only women can be sluts ?!

And here are the lyrics just in case you are sound challenged

I'm just a gigolo
And everywhere I go
People know the part I'm playin'
Paid for every dance
Selling each romance
Ooh, what they sayin'

And there will come a day
When youth will pass away
What will they say about me
When the end comes I know
They'll say "just a gigolo"
Life goes on without me

I'm just a gigolo and everywhere I go
People know the part I'm playin'
Paid for every dance
Selling each romance
Ooh, what they sayin'

But there will come a day
When youth will pass away
What will they say about me
When the end comes I know
They'll say "just a gigolo"
Life goes on without me

'Cause I ain't got nobody
Nobody cares about me
Nobody, nobody cares for me

I'm so sad and lonely
Sad and lonely, sad and lonely
Won't some sweet mama
Come and take a chance with me
Cuz I ain't so bad

Sunday 10 May 2009

To the Absent One - Ya Ghayeb.

A very nice Arabic/Greek Fusion of one of my favorite songs. I have too many favorite songs, I know.

Ya Ghayeb with Fadel Shaker and Sotis Volanis.

Ahh, makes me feel like dancing with longing...I think I will do just that.

Saturday 9 May 2009


Michel Eléftériadis, a Lebanese of Greek Origins has conceptualized some wonderful musical fusion. Arabic/Cuban. Arabic with Yugoslav Gypsy Brass Bands. Flamenco and Arabic.

This one is a classic by the famous Egyptian, composer and singer, the late, Mohamed Abdelwahab, interpreted by Hanin Y Son Cubano.

Ala Bali - On my Mind.

Friday 8 May 2009

Welcome Home - Again

I am going to share with you a secret.

When growing up, unlike most other girls I knew, I had no crush on any superstar, actor or singer, but one -- Yusuf Islam /Cat Stevens.

And do you know when I realized it ? Today. I had repressed that in the back of my mind for so many years...

Why today ? Because today, I received on my imeem account an "add a friend" request and it was from Yusuf /Cat Stevens. Yusuf is back...with a new album called Roadsinger.

I am going to share another secret with you that even Yusuf does not know about.

Many, many, years ago, when Yusuf/Cat Stevens decided to stop singing/composing, I got quite upset but did not exactly know why.

So, on his birthday, 21st July, I sent him an anonymous birthday card wishing him a happy birthday, urging him not to stop singing. I said to him that I understood his embracing Islam but that for me Islam and music were not an antithesis. And that he should not deprive me/us of his wonderful, soulful compositions... I do not know if Yusuf ever received my birthday card or not. I just sent it to a Mosque I knew he frequented daily. And then, I let go and forgot all about Yusuf Islam /Cat Stevens. And even though I had all of his albums, I stopped digging out his songs to listen to them...apart from the odd song that would resurface by coincidence on some radio station.

But today, I went through my collection and checked every single youtube video for Yusuf Islam/ Cat Stevens. And today I understood why I had such a crush on him while growing up...

I loved most of his songs except my Lady d'Arbanville which gave me the creeps. Wild World, Bitter Blue, The 1 cut is the Deepest, Peace Train, the Wind, where will the Children play, Hard Headed Woman (which ex -boyfriends kept offering it to me as a parting present - LOL) and others...

But there is one song I had totally forgotten about and had not listened to since I was 15/16 and it is this one.

This in my opinion, is one of the BEST love songs ever written. And watching Yusuf/Cat Stevens sing it after all those years, fills me up with so many mixed, powerful emotions and feelings, that I prefer to stop here, for now.

P.S : Just in case you are thinking of offering me a parting present too, offer me this one...

Wednesday 6 May 2009

Just a Wish...

I want to be very, very, rich. Like filthy rich, like disgustingly rich, like outrageously rich...And with good reason.

I am not one to believe that there is glory in poverty...there is none.
But then I don't believe there is glory in riches might as well be rich.

I want to become, be, very rich because my secret intention is to become an altruistic, anonymous, philanthropist. Yes, this is my ambition.

I would be a liar if I claimed that it is devoid of any selfish ends...There are some personal considerations that come into account here. Like very petty and very personal...that have nothing to do with the higher, collective good...

One of these petty quirks, is my love for Italian shoes and I would like to purchase as many as my heart desires...Another is a specially designed (by me) red wedding dress and the third and last is a trip to a few countries...countries I have always dreamt of visiting before I pass on to the other side...

In no order of priority :

- A visit to Cuba before the Americans take over. Bid my respects to Fidel Castro, enjoy a few Cohiba cigarillos, and perfect my Salsa steps.

- Another one is a visit to India. In particular, the Taj Mahal in Agra, all of Rajastan and spend a couple of nights on a floating boat in Kashmir.

- Argentina - Bueno Aires. This one is mainly prompted by my love for Tango. And I need to learn the proper steps, none of this hocus pocus that goes under the name of Tango and is devoid of soul. I want to be where it's at.

- The beaches of Mombassa in Kenya. I saw pictures of them and I think they are just amazingly beautiful.

and last and most probably least - A prayer in Occupied Jerusalem...

I am tempted to add the Mojave desert, Arizona and California. But something about America repels me despite my great admiration for Native American maybe I will leave that one on hold for now...

So really, when you come to think about it, my secret desires are not terribly grandiose...

It is not like am into fur coats (yikes), diamonds (ugh) and huge limos that look like trains...
I am not into real estate, mansions and castles...I am not into more clothes (except for the Italian shoes), am not into cars, am not into boats, or private planes, or the jet set scene. All this stuff does not impress me...none of it matters to me. Except my few quirks, above.

So what will I do with this grotesque sum of money ?

I will become a philanthropist.

How so ? I will dedicate my time and money to what matters to me most...

In order of priority :

- Iraq's orphans. I never want to see a street kid in Iraq, ever again. I don't want to see them selling garbage bags and bubble gum, begging, pleading, crying, being abused, being trafficked, sold, bought...I don't want to see them sleeping in alley ways, I don't want to see them fearful, lost and abandoned no more...Iraq's children are mine. They are Her future and they are mine too...

- Iraq's prostitutes. I do not wish to see one more girl/woman/mother selling herself for crumbs...ever again. I don't want to see them in cabarets, in night clubs, on street curbs, in hotel lobbies, in sleazy bars...I don't want to see them offering their bodies, the body of my Beloved, for a few dollars...No, no and no.
The Body of my Beloved is not for sale.

- Iraq's widows. No woman will sleep on a street pavement anymore, living off hand outs, carrying her life in some plastic bag, showing pictures of her old self in some home, telling a stranger - see, this was me...that was my family, that was my home...

- Iraq's cancer patients. Quadrupled courtesy of the "first" world. No more hospital wards that look like dormitories, waiting rooms, for Death to finally visit. No more - we don't have the medication for you, go and buy it yourself. No more hearing - I beg you, help me, help my son, daughter, husband, wife...
Damn it, if you really have to die, it must be done in dignity, in all the proper conditions. You were born in the proper conditions, you were chosen (not necessarily by your own parents though) to be conceived and born - that is a proper condition, so if you have to go, it must be done the same way you were initially conceived. For God conceived you in Dignity.

Let me see what else I want to do with my money...

- Pollution. I am sick and tired of seeing people pollute nature, in particular sea shores. The Sea is my Mother. Stop throwing your junk into her. She will vomit you out once, twice, thrice...but the shores are tired of you as well. I don't want to see your fucking plastic bags, soda cans, tissues, cigarette butts, condoms, aluminium wraps, on any sea shore ever again. The Sea's water is there to baptize and purify you have to soil it with your own junk ? She takes in your mental and emotional junk and washes it away with each of her ebb and flow, but do you really have to soil her with more of your own waste ?
My money will be devoted to keep the Sea and her shores (in this part of the world) clean of you.

- Aspiring artists (again in this part of the world). Writers, musicians, painters, dancers...some of them have great talent, great inspiration and an even greater calling...They are not connected to anyone, to anyone big, they struggle daily to give you and I, Beauty under its many forms...My money will go to them as well...

My, I must be very, very, rich to do all of the above.

What the Hell, I can think, dream -- big. It's just a Wish...
And as the proverb goes - if Wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

And am riding on a...Wish.

Translation of the Lyrics :

I return to the South
like one always returns to the love,
I return to you ,
with my longing, with my anxiety.

I carry the South
like a destiny of my heart,
I am from the South
like the melodies of the bandoneon.

I dream of the South,
a huge moon, the sky reversed,
I am looking for the South
the open time, and its thereafter.

I love the South,
its good people, its dignity,
I feel the South,
like I feel your body in intimacy.

I love you South,
South, I love you.

I return to the South
like one always returns to the love,
I return to you
with my longing, my anxiety.

I love the South,
its good people, its dignity,
I feel the South
like I feel your body in intimacy.
I return to the South,
I carry the South,
I love you South,
I love you South..

Painting : Iraqi artist, Jaber Alwan.

Love Song for Words.

Nazik al-Mala'ika (1922-2007)

Iraqi poet and critic, one of the most important Arab women writers. Al-Mala'ika was one of the first and a major advocate of the free verse movement in the late 1940s with Badr Shakir al-Sayyab. Her poetry is characterized by its terseness of language, eloquence, original use of imagery, and delicate ear for the music of verse. (for more on N.Malaika's life - click here)

Love Song for Words

Why do we fear words
when they have been rose-palmed hands,
fragrant, passing gently over our cheeks,
and glasses of heartening wine
sipped, one summer, by thirsty lips?

Why do we fear words
when among them are words like unseen bells,
whose echo announces in our troubled lives
the coming of a period of enchanted dawn,
drenched in love, and life?
So why do we fear words?

We took pleasure in silence.
We became still, fearing the secret might part our lips.
We thought that in words laid an unseen ghoul,
crouching, hidden by the letters from the ear of time.
We shackled the thirsty letters,
we forbade them to spread the night for us
as a cushion, dripping with music, dreams,
and warm cups.

Why do we fear words?
Among them are words of smooth sweetness
whose letters have drawn the warmth of hope from two lips,
and others that, rejoicing in pleasure
have waded through momentary joy with two drunk eyes.
Words, poetry, tenderly
turned to caress our cheeks, sounds
that, asleep in their echo, lies a rich color, a rustling,
a secret ardor, a hidden longing.

Why do we fear words?
If their thorns have once wounded us,
then they have also wrapped their arms around our necks
and shed their sweet scent upon our desires.
If their letters have pierced us
and their face turned callously from us
Then they have also left us with an oud in our hands
And tomorrow they will shower us with life.
So pour us two full glasses of words!

Tomorrow we will build ourselves a dream-nest of words,
high, with ivy trailing from its letters.
We will nourish its buds with poetry
and water its flowers with words.
We will build a balcony for the timid rose
with pillars made of words,
and a cool hall flooded with deep shade,
guarded by words.

Our life we have dedicated as a prayer
To whom will we pray . . . but to words?

(Translated from the Arabic by Rebecca Carol Johnson)

And some music by the wonderful Palestinian Oud - Le Trio Jubran - to accompany the poetry...

One needs to embrace Beauty wherever and whenever one gets holds of it, be it for a fleeting moment...

Painting : Iraqi artist, Raed AbdelWahed.

Tuesday 5 May 2009

Flying Carpets...

Some magical Arabic Jazz.

" I have nothing to offer you
but Myself and flying carpets..."

Ela Habibi.

...only with my love...

Don't read much into it, it's just a hip song.

Monday 4 May 2009

So, how does it feel ?

On Censorship.

Freedom House - some NGO in charge of monitoring Freedom of Speech and Expression with regards to Journalism came up with its latest report.

Freedom House - where is Freedom House because am looking for one myself...

I need a Freedom House and am no Journalist. I'm just a blogger who finds herself censoring herself inner censor. But then that is a long story, will not bore you with it. But it bores bores me not to be able to say it pointing the finger in a court room and shout - Yes that's him alright.

The inner censor happens to be the judge, the jury and the verdict...

Freedom House remarked in its report that the worst cases for Journalistic censorship in the Middle East are : Libya, Tunisia, Jordan, Iran...These are the ones I retained, because my inner censor would not let me remember more names...

Oddly enough and maybe it is not so odd, Iraq was not listed in the Freedom House report. There was a small paragraph saying that the situation in Iraq has improved in as far as Journalists are concerned - they don't murder them anymore.


I want to ask Freedom House how much Freedom is there under Occupation ?
Maybe Freedom House needs to read about what it's like to live under Occupation.

Occupation idiots !

Read O.C.C.U.P.A.T.I.O.N.

Do you know what the fucking word means ? Why are you censoring it now ?

My inner censor is a bastard son of a bitch but what about yours ?

A Short Portrait of an Iraqi Novelist.

Abdel Sattar Nasseri, an Iraqi fiction writer. 60 something, still good looking despite his wasted time philandering- as he stated himself. Rather lonely but still going strong...

An amazing character I just discovered recently. I have heard of him before, but had not read any of his works. What is so amazing about him is his total honesty about who he is and the different aspects of his personality that are reflected in the various fictitious characters of his work.

He said he makes a point to be very honest with himself first and that honesty transmutes itself onto his pages...

His honesty cost him much - friends and foes were at his throat. Most of the time out of sheer jealousy and envy, nearly destroying him as he said. Yet he perseveres in that same philosophy of soul transparency...For him, not doing so, robs his writings of a much needed Reality. He does say that not all his characters are real, but all of them are derived from Reality.

A good majority of his readers are women. Maybe that has to do with the fact that he is handsome and romantic but it has mostly to do with the fact that he captures the feminine element so well that female readers identify themselves with it so easily. I suppose they bond with him through his pages...and he becomes a voice for them, one voice...

The Feminine element is all present in his works and in his life. His female characters are either very strong, or submissive, obedient or seductress vamps, depending on the plot...he manipulates the characters well but he does admit that he has very often fallen prey to Women - and not necessarily in the negative sense.

The women that marked him most were Italian women during his sojourn in Rome. He said that Italian women were something else...They knew what a man wanted and they knew how to give it. They thus left an indelible mark on him for which he is very nostalgic or comes across so...

Of course despite his honesty, Nasseri will never say anything akin about his own women folk - Iraqi his mind's eye that would make them de facto loose elements...But then Nasseri, despite his creativity, is a typical Middle Eastern male with all the double standards that this entails...

When asked in conclusion what is that he regrets most: His reply was again brutally honest "My Narcissism. I wish I had not been so narcissistic. I missed so many opportunities"...

I suppose Loneliness did catch up with Creativity in his case.

The price to pay.

Saturday 2 May 2009

On Time...

There is a quote attributed to the American feminist Gloria Steinem - not that I care much for American feminists, but this quote is full of wisdom. It goes like this -- Life is Time and Time is all there is.

Time in Arabic is called Al-Waqt as in direct Time. Al-Zaman as in past and present Time (also can mean Epoch) and Al-Dahr as Destiny or Fate Time.

Sometimes the Absolute is referred to as Al-Dahr too. There is a Hadith that says to the effect - Do not complain about Dahr/Time, for God is Time.

Interesting correlating analogies, don't you think ?

It is also said that Time erases everything, that Time is the greatest of all erasers...

I remember when I was a kid and just started going to school, at the beginning of every school year, I had this ritual, usually accompanied by my father, to go shop for stationary -- writing pads, pens, pencil sharpeners, rulers and rubber erasers...we had no computers then and we had no cancel or delete tabs either. It was all done by hand.

I use to love this time of the year, right before the school start. Shopping for stationery was exciting for me. I still find myself lingering at the stationery section in stores and supermarkets...

My turn on as a kid were rubber erasers. I wanted them all. Pink, blue, green, white..different shapes and colors. My father would say - how many erasers do you need ? one is enough. And I'd go - no please daddy, let me have one more...

I loved the fact that I could erase things with a brush of my hand. Most of the time I opted for pencil because it was most easy to erase, to erase it's marks...

I remember then blowing on the piece of paper in front of me and see the bits of used rubber blown away, along with the innumerable errors and mistakes made on my class notebook. One quick move of the hand, and they were gone, all gone...I had erased them all.

Sometimes the rubber eraser was of poor quality, and I would not get the desired results...marks will be left on the paper, like some guilty cues or sometimes the paper was too thin and the hard rubber left holes right where I wanted the mistakes to disappear...

I learned earlier on, from my obsession with erasers, that I will never have full control on what I could keep or do away with...

Some things just refused to leave my paper...and later on, refused to leave my mind and heart...and they were there to stay for a long time...they became part of me and I became part of them...

They are here to stay, for as long as Time decides...and until It decides otherwise...

Picture : Iraqi photographer Nadhem Ramzi.

Friday 1 May 2009

Can You Feel The Love ?

An article just came out on the rise of domestic Violence against Iraqi women.
The article starts with this heart throbbing introduction :

The vast majority of Iraqi women face domestic violence on a regular basis and many commit suicide because of it...
Iraq and the semi-autonomous region of Kurdistan should take measures to stop violence against women, including honour killings and genital mutilation..
To "escape the cycle of violence", many women turned to suicide.

Rest of article here and you MUST read it.

So, the brutal, homicidal, dual, racist American and sectarian Iranian occupation, is crowned with extra bonus violence. Honor killings, genital mutilation, burning with acid, torture, rape, harassment, forced veiling, kidnappings...

What else dear ?

Anything else you would like to add to the "liberation" of Iraqi women ?

This Occupation has emasculated the Iraqi man to such an extent that he needs to regain his sense of virility and masculinity by torturing women instead.

The Iraqi woman on top of her grief, bereavement, loss, and pauperization has also become the source for castrated men to draw from, an inkling of an illusion of manhood, a failed manhood.

We did not have this SHIT before our being "liberated". This came with "democracy and freedom", Western style.

I feel my blood boiling now...I need to stop. I will go and "chill out."

And this is one of the things I do to "chill out", I watch youtube clips. These days am into Hindi films. Don't ask me why, I don't know why.

Maybe the colors, the tunes, the songs, the joyful dances are my unconscious antidote to mutilation and acid burns...

So here, I leave you with this Bollywood song. I am not too crazy about the actors, but the song and its lyrics are just wonderful...

Do you think this is what men in "liberated" Iraq sing to us, Iraqi women ?


Okay, I definitely need to go and chill out, now !

P:S: I have never had as many problems with a video upload as with this one below. Another "coincidence" I suppose. So here is the English translation:

Tu Hi To Jannat Meri

Tu Hi Mera Junoon

Tu Hi To Mannat Meri

Tu Hi Rooh Ka Sukoon

Tu Hi Ankhiyon Ke Thandak

Tu Hi Dil Ke Hai Dastak

Aur Kuch Na Jaanu Mein, Bas Itna Hi Jaanu,

Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta Hain

Yaara Main Kya Karoon?

"Tujh Mein Rab Dikhta..."

Sajde Sar Jukhta Hai

Yaara Main Kya Karoon?

Kaise Hai Yeh Doori, Kaise Majboori?

Maine Nazaron Se Tujhe Chu Liya

Kabhi Tere Khushboo, Kabhi tere Baatein

Bin Mange Yeh Jahan Pa Liya

Tu Hi Dil Ki Hai Raunak

Tu Hi Janmo Ki Daulat

Aur Kuch Na Janoo, Bas Itna Hi Janoo

Rab Ni Bana Di Jodi...

Cham Cham Aaye, Mujhe Tarsaaye

Tera Saaya Chedke Choomta

Tu Jo Muskaaye

Tu Jo sharmaaye

Jaise Mera Hai Khuda Jhoomta

Tu Hi Mere Hai Barkat

Tu Hi Mere Ibaadat

Aur Kuch Na Jaanu, Bas Itna Hi Jaanu

Rab Ni Bana Di Jodi...

Click on the original video (which is in high demand) on youtube for the English subtitles. And follow the steps - press arrow, click c.c. - I give up from my end ! Yalla, Good luck.