WINGS AND ROOTSAN ADVENTURE IN ART, LITERATURE AND LIFE ContentsThis book 3 Preface 4 Wonderful diaries 6 Some images of childhood 21 Descending to the depths 27Pages of future 37Youth’s Illusions 50 Artist and freedom 62Individual gleams 71Collective gleams 82 Looking forwards 86Marshes... A colored painting of poverty 92Critical circumstances 97Chestnut tree 107 Unforgettable day 111 Life in painting 115 Important events I witnessed 122Embodying meaning of arts 125Dreams symphony 131Freedom of spirit 139Personal culture 143Rubaie as seen by Arab intellectuals 148Biography
Preface The texts of these diaries, have written over four decades according to a curriculumand objective mode. The daily events had affected on the texts so I had to add and make margins and annotations. That addition pressed on the movement of the structure and its shape to let the texts introduce themselves widely and freely to express their existence and its horizons that will not vanish between the artist and the world around him and aesthetic means of the expression, from the word to the color to the architecture vocabulary of whole life. Perhaps I feel that this achievement presents a part of the literary and artistic stages that their ideas have been disseminated by other creators; poets, novelists, musicians, art and literature critics and geniuses of the Sociology, Science and Education, who supplied me with a lot of their creativity treasures and helped to pass a distance of this long travel.I often toured in their worlds in my imagination supporting by the influence of the letter and color to stand firmly for defense of human existence and the freedom which is offended, marginalized and plundered by organized wars that destroy the beauty, history, science, culture and future of humanity. Those wars trying to convince us that our misery is a continuation of what had happened before to people in our moral and political history who lived in exile with the alienation and all of them were Iraqis, from the Prophet Abraham, who left his country” Ur “Iraq, to the poet Mutanabbi, Abn Zreik Baghdadi, Abu Ali kali and Zriab, and those who emigrated with and after him of Arab Muslim poets, scientists and philosophers toward Andalusia, Morocco and Egypt and then waves of thousands of creative men and millions of exiled people who are now strangers scattered on the earth. The exile and alienation unite them. There is nothing but freedom can shake human spirit in relations of the social system. After the progress of human spirit created the nations, after all the people involved in some way at the same advantages, what can the human race do without a sense of freedom?!The oil paintings which I have done, the sketches I have made and the letters I havewritten in Arabic, Islamic, international, humanitarian alphabet are achieved with the obsession called “Hope”. Also this book in your hands, has been constructed by illusion of imagined wishes which made me had strength and weakness, determination and with their contradictions, allegation of pride, highness and arrogance against deception and defeatism. In a world topped by chaos, violence, wars, destruction, greed, deceit and egoism, a world in which the principles of intellectual fairness are hidden, there is also what we have invented to justify our fears from the unknown, and that is the hope, the only symbol that does not lose its shine in hearts of weak people and does not lose its eminent status to face the world events that threaten us with extinction and menace to the life on our blue planet. From here, you find us tenacious of edges of leaving hope cloud, so I have to write in a language that floods with a noble passion and astonishing fondness. For the love springs overflow on the threshing floors of wheat, bunches of date palms, mountains peaks, valleys, deserts, marshes waters and the plains of Arab world. At the first time I sensed my freedom, noticed that my sorrow has vanished, and its ashes turned to light so I was able to paint and write the postponed pages in the book of wishes. I wrote memoirs, short stories, novels and thirty books about tracks of art history, literature and art criticism. The only thing I deal with in this book is the story of freedom in art, culture and life… There are wishes in life make us suffer for and work to attain them whatever the distance and cost are.SHAWKAT RUBAE
CHATER ONEWONDERFUL DIARIES (1)- - 1947When my father came in the small room smiling, folding his white kufia, putting a black cloak on his shoulders, Adnan, my cousin, got up throwing a few of dates on the small table behind him, cleaning his teeth with his tongue, wiping his mouth by the sleeve of his tattered dress. He rubbed his mouth quickly. From my place in the far corner of the room, I heard my father talking to Adnan. Before leaving, my father said: (You have to encourage him to be good pupil). (Of course, uncle) answered Adnan smiling and moved towards me pulling my left hand, while my right hand was catching a loaf of barley bread and piece of cucumber. ”Let us go for a walk.” said Adnan with a soft voice like ringing of copper. We crossed the dusty threshold avoiding green stagnant ponds in front the house and walked to King Faisal II primary school which was not far. We passed number of old huts surrounded by stinking water. In front of every hut which was built with mud, straw and gypsum or reeds, three were small windows. At night people put there their kerosene lamps, but in the mornings the elder women overlooked from it to talk about the latest news of the family, tribe, their sons who traveled to other cities looking for jobs and about suitable times for going to the river shore to wash clothes or bringing water or carrying wheat, barely and rice to Sheikh Majeed Alsadkhan’s mill or Hajji Sawza’s mill in Alnajjareen (carpenters) market. In the afternoons, the young girls used those windows to glance furtively at Jidaidya district’s boys- .We sauntered in a muddy lane where no pedestrians but frightened cats escaping from unrestrained dogs and then they disappeared under Hamood’s cart and its two grey horses and an old cart abandoned beside the gate of Hamood’s broad house. After ten short steps, we reach the end of that lane which its north left corner was occupied by the hospital of the American Missionary Mission, and the school was on the right corner. It was just a few bungalows with roof made of old tins.That happened on the third day of September 1947. “You, I am sure, will be the painter of this school.” My cousin said delightfully. But, on the next day I looked for him to save me from the severity of a teacher whose face was engraved by smallpox. I raised my small finger to allow me to go to the toilets, but the teacher ignored me. I raised my finger again suffering from a painful colic that made tears rolled down my checks and I bent like a willow in storm, but his engraved face constricted and his features became more like one of the monsters of my aunt (Rikna) fairytales. He lifted and threw me toward the blackboard as a small swallow.
(2) No word jumped from my wet trembly lips. I was very scared so I got up quickly and leaped outside the hell of that room. There was no saver only my cousin "Adnan" who was a pupil in the fifth class. I run to his classroom, but before calling his name, I saw him standing against the wall beside the blackboard raising his hands. He was punished! At that moment I had confused; to whom I complain? I suppressed my wrath leaving the school which I did not come back to till beginning of the following school year. When I came home, all daughters of my aunts (Naema, Jasmia and Fahima) treated me with great tenderness, so my mood became clear and I saw everything was beautiful. I took a half burned piece of charcoal from a moveable fireplace and drew on the old paper bags imagined scenes of the town markets then stuck the drawings on my father room’s door and on other doors. That was an attempt to forget pains of leaving school and that teacher whose face was engraved by smallpox.But that did not help me to forget what should happen later: “How will I face my father when he returns home from work in the evening?” I was forcibly brought before him. With terrified eyes I was watching the shaking thick belt in his hand. His gazes stung me like thin whip. His face reddened angrily. I felt a sudden choking, a horrible pain in my throat. I put my both hands on the blown thyroid gland. I couldn’t swallow my saliva, and tears burst out. My arms and legs were frozen. Fortunately, at that moment, my elder aunt (Sekna) returned from market. She looked at us gaping surprising of that painful scene. My father recoiled without any word. Adnan shrugged smiling. “You are lucky, but the judgment hour would be later,” He said. “Your troubles finished.” I said nothing. I was nervous and disliked to talk. At night I heard my grandmother (Teeba) saying: “Did you like the porridge of barley with cloves of garlic without salt? Now take this teacup. It is without sugar...” My father praised her meal: “How delicious it was!” My mother had surprised that a small dish was enough. She encountered: "What is this?! Is that all what you eat and you work from dawn to evening?” But my father called me making place to sit beside him. “One day, my elder son would be the supporter of family and with his devotional efforts he will make your future,” He said patting on my back, then looked at me with much love. “Would you like to be so, Shawkat? Would you like to accompany me to the market tomorrow, Friday, to buy new clothes for you and your brothers?” I wondered immediately: “Will you buy me a packet of colors? I like to draw!” He opened eyes widely and said with a blaming accent. “You had to stay in your school not leaving defeated.” Then he nodded his head as a sign of agreement. “Can that really happen?” I asked myself. A strange certainty deluged my soul.
(3)I went to (King Faisal II primary school). Its area was stretching from Viceroy Abdulillah Street to Amara Irrigation Office which separated between the school and Tigris river shores. In north of my school there was the Amara Secondary School, and in the east the American Hospital and its windmill and the church to which we were going to get candy and juice called (Namlet). Childhood mates Mohammed Jabur and his brother Aziz- both sons of the hospital gardener- and I were playing with kids of the missionary members drawing by gypsum remains. When we had received Christmas presents, we had thanked the priests saying: “O God, bless Prophet Muhammad and the family of Muhammad!”In the first week of winter 1950, a strong dusty storm blew plucked the tinny roof out. That led to the suspension of study for two weeks. The school transferred to a new building built in the past year holiday, and called it (The Prince Primary School). Its place was near KOLLEG (It means in Turkish language Police Station), behind (Amara Prison) which was crowded with the politician inmates. That school was the far point from the town centre. Beyond it, there were the beautiful orchards, spacious fields extending with the horizon, forests of date-palms which the rays of the sun were penetrating fruit trees and wheat golden threshing floors. The cold breezes had refreshed our souls with fragrance of roses, orange and mandarin and sprinkled dirt. In the east of my new school there were ponds and furnaces of pottery and bricks-
(4) I felt bitterness in my mouth, so I put my hand in my pocket looking for a piece of candy, but I found a copy of my old photo taken in 1947 by wooden box camera in front of the Court against house of the governor of Amara. I used that photo in the school registration file, when I began to learn talking, drawing letters and numbers and spelling of the alphabet. I sank into contemplating the photo and lineaments of the child who I was. Perhaps that explains the reason for keeping it. I scrutinized his eyes which sadness settled therein. Their brightness was unforgettable. At that moment, I discovered through them how to look at my mind and heart. His eyes scared me as he did not like me to breathe from his depths but to guide me to the most beautiful awareness of life. He left me wandering in light, color and alphabets which were composed together ideas, attitudes and visions. I have become stranger to him till now and may be to the last breath. The child in my mind and thinking was trying to spell letters of memory alphabet. I was listening surprisingly to his heart pulse, beats of his sorrows and astonishing for wideness of his patience. But a rapid gleam stopped the remembrance moments… now I knew why my mouth was bitter. I did not believe that I knew in my early childhood years what happiness was, even for moments, and did not glimpsed it for once at lineaments of my family faces. We were living under wings of my elder aunt Sekna (1881-1976) who was compassionate and generous like a rainy cloud. We were calling for help of her confident personality. She had treated us firmly and kindly. The hard living conditions and difficult circumstances made her a man into a female body. She endured the ordeals patiently, and had known that death was her final salvation. In the period of my father sickness, she was the first lady of the house despite the presence of my mother, Razkia Alshahmania (1921 - 2005) my father's cousin, who became a wife in age 17, but spent her life marginally. My elder aunt urged us to love study, education and knowledge although she was illiterate (such as my father), but she learned by heart the verses of the Koran which she was repeating in prayer and a lot of slang poems. Also she encouraged her niece Jasmia (1932-1990) to write slang poetry and recite it before women meetings in the poor districts in occasion of Ashura days or martyrdom of Imam Hussein, grandson of the Greater prophet, Muhammad. That was an annual tradition in our home.
At that early stage, I began to imitate Jasmia in composing slang poetry, but she warned me: “Don’t ever try to write poetry, because it will torture you, and will make you like a bird’s broken wing bleeds.” I told her stutteringly: “I describe the landscapes as I draw them, and write lines of poetry beside it to explain like children write “A tree” beneath drawing of a tree.” She smiled and continued her work in sewing dresses of the neighbors’ dresses. But those drawing attracted the drawing teacher’s attention and his praise. He encouraged me to improve my hobby and practice during my leisure moments and summer holiday. Then I felt in depths I would be the painter of the class, school and my town till I would become one of famous Iraqis painters rising to internationality! That and what Adnan was whispering in my ear let me living in false pride. But that made me afraid of myself and anxious about carrying out my dream. Perhaps, Adnan was trying to do his promise to my father. In fact, that promise was burdensome for me more than Adnan because I was struggling with myself about my ability in drawing. When I revealed my fears to my aunt Sekna, she repeated her excited story of how she lost her sight at moment of fear for thirteen years then she recovered it. But in the years of that darkness, she thought her destiny had taught her hope, wisdom and patience and made her stronger to confront unexpected catastrophes. She did not shed tears when the death kidnapped her husband and nine of sons by typhoid fever, plague and other diseases, saying: (How could a woman cry if her eyes are robbed?) She kept her rustic roots, endured alone the dailyburdens of life. ... Aunt Sekna was interested in our health, so she had forced us to swallow small cloves of garlic before breakfast and recommended to take them regularly, because eating garlic, as she said, is useful for strengthening and maintaining the heart, though it leaves foul smell. She was mixing herbal medicines to heal us and our close neighbors’ women. Her herbal medicines were derived from trees and plants, like camphor, sandalwood, bitter musk, tamarind, cinnamon, colocynth and extract of scents. Also she invented kinds of emulsified syrups for treating kidney, stomach and intestinal colic. Briefly she was a wise, pious woman whom the catastrophes of life made cruel and kind in the same time, bold and generous. Her natural good spirits infected every one around her. She cared for us as she cared for my father since his birthday. Her wings covered me and my brothers. She was a good hand when we woke up and sleepless eye when we slept. I was boastful of her deep love. Once, she told her guest: “This is my nephew Shawkat... How I feel envy toward the eyes that look at him!” For that love, she pierced my ears and adorned them with silver earrings. She also pierced my nose tip to let me breathe easily because asthma did not allow me inhale enough air and put there a ring of inlaid gold with a blue precious stone.
My aunt left my hair down on the shoulders, curly, blond with redness because of henna plant paste which they were soaking my head weekly with. My pure brown eyed had passed the cruel plight of conjunctivitis, and my body had recovered from skin rash. My face was pink with tenderness, contrary to the rough face of my brother (Hikmat), who was born after me in 1941 and then changed his name to (AbdulJalil). He was stubborn, mutinous and difficult to tame. My second brother Khalil (born 1950) was influenced by my behavior and interests in painting, reading and writing, and so my only sister Halima (born 1952) was very quiet, but the third brother Ferhan (born 1955) was stubborn like Abduljalil. The youngest brother Abdullah (1957) was calm, liking reclusion and playing alone, and he was the closest, after me, to the elder aunt’s heart. She gave the greatest compassion to me for I have semi-profile of my father, the same eyes, mouth, chicks and soft lineaments like touch of burnished marble or like the surface of that oil painting when I copied one of the Spanish painter, Goya, according to instructions of the drawing teacher Yassin Alazzi, then I won the prize of Amara Education Department, and by that I became famous among the pupils of the town. I was
I was - 1963 - -- overjoyed. (5) The football playground was located in an area called “Sweetat” along the right bank of Tigris River. It was flat land covered by grass and surrounded by trees, but we called it “The garrison stadium” for the military garrison was near, but in the north, there were the orchards of fruit and nabk trees, vegetables, melon and watermelon, cucumber and date-palms. -- Suddenly I remembered my father and saw his face despite of audience crying and shouting. Why? I shook my head to put all the horrible obsessions aside. But those obsessions leaked again. I tried to concentrate on the game, but couldn’t. I startled when somebody patted on my left shoulder. I turned my face and saw “Jabbori” our neighbor the barber of the district “Aljedayda”. The ashes of cigarette fall on my eye but when I rubbed, tears washed it. I looked at his tired face and his red eyes (For drinking alcohol) and heard him saying: “Your father is very sick; your family wanted you to be there.” Then he asked my friend, Areaf: “Are you son of Alwan, the driver? Take Shawkat and go home immediately.” When we passed the gate of that “stadium” I realized something happened to my father who was afflicted with Bell’s palsy (paralysis of facial muscles) six moths ago. But it was more complicated than that interpretation, because he was sick with diabetes and high blood pressure.
The Jewish doctor (Dawood) said that my father was a victim of a hereditary disease. I was afraid to lose and I was a kid in that ruins or remains of house in those years that gave my days another meaning of a coming unknown life. In that ruins our secrets were, and I remembered it at the moments of fears of soul. I had wished that he would help and support me to face severe difficulties of life. It was hard to imagine my situation if I were without him realizing the career of painter would not protect me from poverty and hunger and time misfortunes. I felt I was bigger than my true age when I was seeing my mother, aunts and their daughters watching destruction of their dear worlds. But I still see their faces as they were before, young and charming. I still see my father’s face shines in my memory and dreams trying to catch my distracted soul to tell it his thoughts . A new idea came unexpectedly upon my mind to run hundred meters per second to know what was going there. The dirty path was wet after heavy rain during the last week, and covered with traces of feet of coming and going people, hooves of horses and wheels. Then we walked in a narrow line in the middle of grassy field where heaps of hay scattered here and there not far from the grey shore of Tigris. The rays of the sun, which was close to sunset, covered leaves of the trees with pale orange color. Those date-palms overlooking on the river reminded me the pleasure of good memories when I had climbed them then jumped into the river. I smiled, so my mates started their ironic comments. Their kidding overlapped with the noise of young men who were happily ringing bells of their bicycles waiting to cross the bridge. There was a cart pulling by a white donkey, on it there was a group of villager girls surrounding a beautiful girl. Their singing declared that girl was a bride in her way to her broom’s house. A joyful smile floated on their white and brown faces. They were shrilling and dancing into blue, red and yellow dresses, and their balling breasts moved up and down and their braids went down out the hijabs. Their songs and rhythm of the drums mixed with snarling of the vessels and small ships. The orange brightness gradually faded on the girls’ forearms which were decorated with bracelets of silver and copper and gold. The orchards behind us became dark.
(6)I fixed my right foot into the slippery which slipped, then continued walking and thinking, watching carefully my friends and remembering how we were enjoying watching the football games on that (stadium) and how we paid (four Fils) as the fare of crossing boat to the western side of the Tigris River in summer & winter .. In summer we were crossing it swimming, putting our clothes around our heads like turbans, floating as geese or birds the surface of the alluvial water which flowing toward south. We were half-naked racing to climb the trees to collect fresh fruit. I did not like to swim alone after what had happened to my cousin (Sabeeh) who drowned five years ago. His mother Fahima (1922-1988) was crying bitterly and looking forward to the beaches and shores. Rikna, my aunt and his grandmother, was roaming the shore back and forth firing candles on pieces of dry date palm stump, which had been lighted till retuning extinguished to the bank .. His father (Mullah Fadhil) flamed up with sadness, I cried for him so my mother did. Fahima stayed on the shores till Sabeeh’s body floated over the waves.My thinking stopped when my friend (Ibrahim Jassim Khalaf) nudged me making a sign to one of vegetables sellers. She was beautiful girl with wide dark eyes and slender body which she tied it with her overall. She was standing silent and might she was talking to her self about mystic grieves. At last, the gate of the floating bridge (inaugurate by King Ghazi on 6th January 1936 in the anniversary of Iraqi army forming) was closed.
(7) I heard now whispering and severe bouts of coughing loudly mixed with smooth guffaws. Some people looked at the sky, there was a single engine plane flying at low altitude... My uncle Osman, the bridge guard, was watching launches and sailing boats from his hanging cabin. I had waited over an hour, during that I scanned the features of gypsy women, farmers, fishermen and shepherds who were calming their cattle. I scrutinized the milkmaids’ Sumerians faces, moves of beautiful women bearing firewood, dry palm leaves and bundles of thorns. They were smiling and looking stealthily, lustily at few of workmen and soldiers who just returning from the garrison. The moon was pale grey while the sun was going down. On the ground, a few of Eucalyptus leaves were falling. I was still standing next to my friends. They were the most beautiful phrase of my memory songs. They were clicking the wooden window of our old room like hungry birds looking for food, and when I opened the window, I saw their smiled faces despite the paleness. We were playing so much and creating new games instead of what we had seen in hands of rich people’s kids or those behind shop windows or in the movies or on the pages of old magazines. . They looked at what I was drawing with piece of fragmented brick squares and circles which seemed like geometry drawings. All of us knew poverty and sorrows, though we did not realize but they lived in us. We were happy that new one joined us; Abdulridha hafedh whose dream was becoming a player in the top team of Iraq.
(8)A silver ray brightened on the water waves which reached sandy beach then went back leaving white foams like pieces of wet cotton. There was a big (Quffa), which was a big bowl made of palm branches and covered by tar and tied to an irony ring underneath the bridge. We were sitting into it and playing. Now, I know like that was made by Sumerians of Ur after the greater flood. It was mentioned in legend of the Akkadian King Sargeon, like story of Prophet Moses, when his mother put him in (Quffa) and threw it in the river then a man called (Aki) saved him. There, on the bank, were children, boys and girls, playing and plucking up pieces of clay, so I remember how Adnan taught me to do that. We were cutting gently and patiently clear suitable templates from clay for prominent sculpture. We were cleaning them and engraving features of animals and landscapes. Adnan also taught me ornamentation and Arabic script. I was drawing the Arabic letters then engraved ornamental forms around them. I drew portraits by pastel or colored pencils. The first picture I had drawn was my father’s. When my father saw it he was joyful and proud, fixing it on the wall of the Diwania (reception room), exclaiming that a new little painter was born. (9)I glimpsed (Jabbar Allwaah) whom I worked with in Jabbouri Hanna-Sheikh’s brick factories, standing near the Tigris River to know where the vegetable sellers would sleep that night. He was always sneaking later covering himself with his black cloak to lie beside one of their women. No one find out his secret. I smiled bashfully!Now we crossed the bridge returning home. We passed an abandoned area filled with rubbish, dry bunches, empty tea boxes with its mark (Ceylon tea) broken wine bottles and squashed cigarette packets with different marks; Ghazi, Lux and Almukhtar. That place became later Central Post office. Then we passed gardens crowded with eucalyptus, nabk, fig and pomegranate trees and date-palms, and in middle, there was the central library. Alhamra nightclub was next to the gardens, then Alhamra cinema, the only one in the town, where Adnan worked nightly, but he allowed me to go with him one time a week, just on Monday when they showed new movie, and there I was watching his friend (Chaloob),with his short figure, wide eyes, thick eyebrows and thin mustaches, drawing advertisements for the new movies, and also watching the popular painter Areaf, who was drawing landscapes; date-palms, river and sailing boat, but he was famous among the drivers because he painted those landscapes on the sides of their old wooden cars (Chrysler, Dodge, Ford and Chevrolet) with these words “ This is from my God’ grace… The envious won’t be lord.”
(10)My hobby of drawing became clearer. Now I was painter of the school. The teacher, who taught us English, drawing and handicrafts, was Eidi, one of the noble Mandaean*. He encouraged me to participate at the annual exhibitions so I won number of simple promotional prizes. At that time I knew a few of the young painters, among them: Sabeeh Abbod, Mahood Ahmad, Abdullatef Madhi, Ahmad Amen Mustafa, Abdulbaqi Alrumdan, Kadhim Alebaddi and Saad Shakir. Sabeeh Abbod began to tell me about known painters of the town who had graduated from the Fine Arts Institution in Baghdad, such as Abdulmunaem Musafer, Mahmood Alhaj Hussein, Abdulraheem Albeyati and Ali Hussein Lelu, and some of amateur distinct painters: Yassen Aziz, Abdul Wahid Mohammed and Abdul- Karim Asheer. He also told me about the members of the Front Association for Modern Theatre which was established in 1955 and headed by the writer and artist Essa Abdulkareem and its best actors were: Zahir Alfahad, Ibrahim Ghazal, Abdulla Flyah, Ali Hussein Abbas, Abdulla Alyassen, Jawad Alawores and Waleed Alobbaidi. But my friendship with Sabeeh became more intimate. He was more (famous) than me among the pupils of the primary schools. Every morning, he was carrying an empty tin of vegetable fat to take it a seat in the front row in the class because they did not have enough desks! His school was built from reeds and papyrus, but the room of the headmaster was built from mud and hay. The picture of King Faisal II was installed on the clay wall behind the headmasterThe teacher of Arabic language, Hamid Rajab, appreciated my drawings and gave me a gift in front of the gathering pupils during the flag salute ceremony which was held every Thursday morning. * The Mandaean faith has existed in Iraq since the reign of Artabanus V according to the Haran Gawaitha (secret wanderings) scroll of secondary Mandaean writ. This would make the Iraqi presence of Mandaeans at least 1,800 years old...The Mandaean faith is commonly known as the last surviving Gnostic faith and its adherents believe it to be the oldest faith on Earth…. Most Iraqi Mandaeans live near waterways because of the practice of total immersion (or baptism) in flowing water every Sunday. The highest concentrations are in the Misan province with headquarters in Amarah, Qalat Saleh and Basra. (Wikipedia- Religions in Iraq)
(11)It was another joy when the sports teacher chose me to join the scouts group. That joy permeated my small dreams for getting free scouting uniform with new shoes and new socks and metallic cup! I was looking at my figure in the broken mirror training to do the salute with three fingers, waiting eagerly Thursday morning to attend the school ceremony of raising the Iraqi flag, wearing my new uniform. We were reciting national enthusiastic poems written by different poets from Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia and Iraq, but the closer poet to us and our thoughts was “Anwar Khalil” who issued his first collection (Echoes of the battle) during those days of 1952.Artist Saleh Mahdi Alsamarai, our teacher of sports and music, melodized those poems. He had a sensitive artistic taste, so he collected poems and its tunes and printed them in a small pamphlet and distributed to schools’ students. I learnt them by heart to recite them boastfully on the (Holy Thursdays) when I was wearing scouting uniform. The teacher of Arabic language was proud of me for learning many long poems of Arabic classic poetry. One day, he surprised when I answered him repeating lines from one of Almutanabbi’ poems “I’m the sea; you can dive into if it is quiet looking for pearls, but be cautious when the sea is rough”. He put the chalk on the table wondering: “You are young. What is your purpose from learning these poems?” I answered him quoted lines of Almutanabbi “I want my time leads me where the time itself could not reach”. The teacher smiled saying: “Well done, boy. Future will reveal that.” Suddenly, he applauded and presented me a pen I never seen like it in the bookshop of Alhashimi Brothers: Mohammad Ali, Shakir and Ibrahim, or in Modern Bookshop of Abdulraheem Alrahmani, where my friend Hydar worked and who told me that pen was Teco. I was deeply affected by transparent character of my teacher Hamid Rajab. He taught me to write notes about any book I read and saved in my memoirs. He implanted in my mind the beauty of knowledge.
12)At that moment, I saw a man pushing a cart which was carrying various potteries, and with its movement, my beloved images faded behind heart tissues, behind a crystalline veil of the far time. I felt time pressed my feelings, so I felt as I wore a black dress made of fears.We passed a small roundabout, in its centre there was an irony sunshade, where a traffic policeman stood. Then, we walked beside high fence of a huge building, (Fitna palace), which Sheikh Mohammad Alarybi, chief of a big tribe and member in the royal parliament, had built for his wife, Fitna. Then we passed a huge store belonged to Sheikh Majeed Alsedkhan, where a few farmers were gathering around fire fueled by palm trunks and branches of the tree. I felt its heat and remembered my father when was talking to our new neighbor’ wife who was new comer from the countryside. She was trying to approach a frond to the electrical lamp. “What are you doing?” He asked laughing. “I don’t have matches, so I want to light the frond and take it to the muddy stove.” She answered. My father smiled, but that smile quickly disappeared!(13)We approached Sayid Akkela’s home. He was well known among all women of Kadria and Aljedayda, who were staining his door with henna and setting candles at the threshold and tied green cloth tapes around the bronze knob of the door. They were vowing hopes and dreams for their aged, spinster, sterile and divorced daughters. My cousin, Naima (1930-1990) told me a lot of stories about those vows and interpreting of dreams. In Islam history, Abn Sereen was famous dream interpreter. They said one day a woman visited him while he had his lunch, but he allowed her to tell her dream. “I saw the moon passed through Pleiades, and heard a voice behind me calling “He is dead.” The woman said. Abn Sereen couldn’t swallow his morsel and his face turned pale. He asked her to retell the dream and she did. He lent putting his hands on his stomach saying: “I will die within seven days.” That what happened and he was buried on the seventh day. I remembered what my aunt Sekna told me about her dream a week ago. She dreamed that my father was wearing his first wedding suit and was healthy and happy. At that minute I saw her tears and realized that sadness was close, very close.
(14)I stumbled again by my slippery so I left it there, walking barefooted in mid our alley where we were playing football, but our ball was made of old clothes in the front of our home, I saw the known familiar faces. All of them turned towards me. There were my uncles, cousins and relatives. I thrust my way through the crowd.I saw my father lied on a mat in his room surrounding by a history of tales and legends. His skin color became like dusty blue dove, his chest gradually rising and falling strongly, his breath was disturbed, his mouth closed no brightness but a very small light spot on his right eye, shined and disappeared like a far star in space of deep darkness and dust. He slowly raises his hand and it fall quickly on the mat of the compressed papyrus. His face was terribly altered and the chill of death was already upon him I was confused invading by the power of death which I faced for the first time. I went close to his bedside, putting my hand on his face which was without expression, glimpsing his teardrop. He shut his eyes for moments then opened them again when the women screamed loudly. I wiped his face by my fingers tips likewise Magdalene did when she wiped Christ’s feet by her hair. I imagined him watching his entire life’s film. He was no longer able to move his left hand.My father’s fingers constringed. A faint blueness colored his body and his breath mixed with sharp snoring. It was the moment of death and departure. I knew the following morning would be sunny, but in home it would be very dark, the sorrows would wake up to make our next days deep dark. His lover, second wife (Saddeqa Habib Alsamarai) who lived in another ally was told he was sick not dying, but Allah willed to let her see his coffin when the car which carrying him stopped suddenly near her house and the driver was unable to repair it. She saw the coffin and knew who was the dead and fall on the ground. She lived her life until death sad and isolated from the world fumbling her wounds. --------------------