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Heather Raffo's

9 PARTS OF DESIRE

WINNER OF A 2005 SUSAN

SMlTH BlACKBURN PRIZE SPEOAL COMMENDATION

AND LuOllE LoRTEL AWARD FOR BEST SOLO SHOW

lW(or3W to 9W)

A portrai t of rhe extraordinary (and ordinary) lives of a whole cross-section of Iraqi women: a sexy paimer, a radical communist, doctors, exiles, wives and lovers. This wo r k delves imo [he mallY conflicting aspects of what it means to be a woman in me age-old war zone that is Iraq. An unusually timely meditation on [he ancient, the modern and the femin ine in a counrry overshadowed by war. 9 PARTS OF DES] RE <--an be performed as a one-woman show or with a caSt of three to nine women.

" a triumph

thrilling

IW example afholl! nrt CIIn rmlflke the world

of character. "

in this

is marked with wit find by

rem.zrkable om-womarJ show, (Heather Raffo's) writing

a scrupulom atte1ltioll ro the details

-The New Yorker

.oft brings tiS doser to the inller lifo of11"11q than 1/ thousand slick-mrfoced TV reports. Yet [Raffo's1 betwtifidly shaped one-woman play is a play, not a stodgily earnest piece ofriocumt!rJtary thMter, and therein lies its singttlorforcr and compulsion: It is persufl­

sive precisely becallse it is beautiful. "

-TIle Wall Street Jou.rn.al

The voicr:s fire a study ill contrasts:

vivid and it:b'fltted. sophisticated and nai"ve, seductive and standoffish. But they cohere

to form a powrijjd collective pOl"t1'flit ofslIffering and endur(mce. " -The New York Times

" pflum/ilL/#. impassioned, vivid, memorable

"The.fimale halfo/frnq has come to -'

,

America.

.,

DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE, INC.

-Gloria Steinem ISBN 0-8222-2097-0 90000> .1JL,,170
-Gloria Steinem
ISBN 0-8222-2097-0
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EATHER RAFFO'S

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9 PARTS OF DESIRE

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Inquiries con cerning all orher righrs should be addressed ro Willi am Morris Agency, LLC . 1325 Avenue ofrhe Americas. 15th Floor. New York. NY 10019, Ann: Val Day.

SPECIAL NOTE

An yone receivin g permission ro produce 9 PARTS OF DESIRE is required ro give credir ro th e

Aurhor as sole and exclusive Aurhor of rhe Play on rh e rid e page of all program s distr ibured in con­

rh e Play appears For

nection wi,h perFormances of rh e Pla y and in all instances in w hich rh e ririe of

purposes of adv e rrising. publ ici zing or oth erwise expl oi ring rhe Pl ay and l or a produerion rhe reoF,

Th e name of rh e Aurhor mu s r appear on a sep arate lille, in w hjch no orh e r name app ears . imm edi­

arely above rhe tid e and in s ize o f' ryp e equal to 50 0 /0 of (h e size of rhe largesr, most prominenr ler­

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H ea ther RaFFo's

9 PARTS OF DESIRE

The follo w ing acknowledgmenrs mus t appe ar on the ririe page in all prog rams disrribut ed in con­ necrion with performances of rhe Pl ay in sizc of rype no sm aller rhan 10 p o inr:

Origin ally produced for rhe New York Srage by

Manhanan En semble.:: Theater, Da ve Fishdson , Arri stic DircC(or.

Originally produced by Erich Jungwirrh. Voice Chair

Produc rions;

Richard Jord an. Richard Jordan Producrions, Lrd.

All c haracre rs app earing in rhis work are fictitious.

Special rhanks ro of her

G e raldin e Brooks For the in spirarion book Nine Parts of Dd ire.

In addition, rhe followjng mu s r appea r in rhe rear of all pro g rams wh ere produ c ti o n s[aff and

spe­

cial rhanks appear:

Brirish premiere. Traverse Theane. Edinburgh. London pre mi e re, Bu sh Th ea ne. Sh e pp a rdsbush . London .

 

SPECIAL NOTE ON SONGS AND RECORDINGS

 

For

performances o f cop yri g hted son gs. arrange mencs or recordings mc nrionnl ;'1 .I,i " 1 1 1.1 \ '1 tl

· I" "

mi s­

sion of th e copyri g ht owner (s) must be obtained.

Orher songs. arr:lIlgl'llh'1l1'" 0\ 1. ' 1 IIIIIIIW~ III.I V 1)('

sub­

stirmed provid e d pt:rmi ss ion from rhe cop}/righr

own l: r(:;) of S lId, ." lIl p; "

, 111 . 111 1 :'

III '

III

j ' 1 \. , 'lIilill gS is

obrain ed; or songs . arra.ngements or recordings in rh l: puhlil ' tI , IIl I , .ill IILI , I"

H(.

111 11 1, ,I

9 PARTS

Productions under the direction and dramaturgy of Eva Breneman. It received its world premiere at the Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, in August 2003 and later moved to the Bush Theatre in London.

It was performed by Heather Raffo.

OF

DESIRE

was

first

developed

with

VoiceChair

9 PARTS OF DESIRE was subsequently presented at Queens

Theatre in the Park, in Queens, New York, opening in January 2004. It was directed by Jack Hofsiss. It was performed by Heather Raffo.

9 PARTS OF DESIRE was presented as part of The Public Theatre's

opening in May 2004. It was

New Work

directed by Kate Saxon. It was performed by Heather Raffo.

Now festival of readings ,

9 PARTS OF DESIRE received its New York premiere at the Manhattan Ensemble Theatre (David Fishelson, Artistic DirectOr; James Sparnon, Managing DirectOr) in OctOber 2004. It was directed by Joanna Settle; the assistant director was Shana Gozansky; the set design was by Antje Ellerman; the costume design was by Mattie Ullrich; the lighting design was by Peter West; the original music and sound design were by Obadiah Eaves; the production stage manager was Lisa Gavaletz; and the ptOduc­ tion managers were Gene O 'Donovan and W Benjamin Heller for AutOra Productions. It was performed by Heather Raffo.

9 PARTS OF DESIRE was produced at the Geffen Playhouse, in Los Angeles, California, opening on September 6, 2005. It was directed by Joanna Settle; the set design was by Antje Ellerman; the costume design was by Kasia Walicka Maimone ; the lighting design was by Peter West; the original music and sound design were by Obadiah Eaves. It was performed by Heather Raffo.

z. SMITH REYNOLDS LIBRARY

WAKE FOREST UNIVERSITY

3

AUTHOR'S NOTE

9 Parts of Desire was inspired by a lik- chall g illg trip I made to Iraq in 1993. It was only a few years after the CulrWar had ended, and

I was longing to see my family. Ba g hdad W ; IS always the magical place where I had been as a little girl, and where I'd slept on the roof of my grandmother's house under the stars. But since the gut­ wrenching war, Baghdad was simply where more than fifty of my immediate relatives still lived.

It would be my first time back to Iraq as an adult. The only way into Iraq at this time was by bus across the desert, for me a seventeen­ hour trip in total from Amman, Jordan. When I reached the Iraqi border everyone from my bus got into the line for "Arabs" except me. To them I was classified as "other" so I had to go down a long hallway into a back room. There was a man behind a desk. He opened my passport, looked at me, then back down at the pass­ port. He got up, walked all the way across the room and shook my hand. He said, "Welcome to your father's country; we hope you take back a good impression of the Iraqi people; know our people are not our government; please be at home here and when you return tell your people about us."

Seven hours later I was in Baghdad hugging all fifty members of my father's family. They called me their daughter; they fought over who would cook me dinner and whose house I would visit first. I was like an orphan finding her family on that trip, soaking up every story about their lives and how my father grew up. I saw buildings my grandfather and great-grandfather had carved from marble; I saw the house my father grew up in as a child; and I saw the obvi­ ous destruction of the country. Across the street from my uncle's house was a pile of rubble, a neighbor's house and a casualty of a stray bomb. I visited the Amiriyya bomb shelter where many Iraqi civilians lost their lives when the shelter became a target in the 1991 war. I went to the Saddam Art Center, the modern-art museum of Baghdad, and saw rooms and rooms of billboard-sized portraits of Saddam Hussein. Then I wandered into a back room, and there was a haunting painting of a nude woman clinging [() a harrell tree. Her head was hanging, bowed, and there was a goldell li,JII hchind her; like a sun. The painting was titled "S:l var ,VI I'. "

This painting lived inside me for many years, haunting me and tugging at me to tell its Story. I began by researching the artist. She had been killed by an American air raid in June of 1993, a few months before I saw her painting hanging in the Saddam Art Center. It was a national tragedy, a beloved female artist and cura­ tor of the museum, killed by an American bomb. I knew I would never meet her, bU[ I wanted to talk to other Iraqi artists who were her contemporaries. One by one I was introduced to Iraqi women who had lived through more than I could imagine. Along the way 9 Parts ofDesire would come to include a multitude of Iraqi's sto­ ries. They shared so deeply of themselves and seemed to tell me almost anything but only after I shared as much of myself with them. My process was not one of formal interviews but rather a process of spending time together living, eating, communicating compassionately, and loving on such a level that when I parted from their homes it was clear to all that we were now family. When an Iraqi woman trUStS you it is because she has come to love you, and that has been the process of finding and forming these stories.

With rare exception, these stories are not told verbatim. Most are composites, and although each character is based in fact and research, I consider all the women in my play to be dramatized char­ acters in a poetic story. I liken it to songwriting - I listened deeply to what each woman said, what she wanted to say but couldn't, and what she never knew how to say. Then I wrote her song.

-Heather Raffo

5

"God created sexual des ire in ten pares; then he gave nine parts to women

"God

created sexual des ire in ten pares; then he gave

nine parts to women and one to men."

- A li ibn Abu Taleb, husband of Jvluhr.{mmad's

daughter Fatima and fourth callj)h of the Islamic world after Mohammed Revered as the first leader of the 5hi 'a sect of Islam, his shrine is in Najcif,' Iraq, and is a major pltlre of 5hi 'a pilgrimage

9 PARTS OF DESIRE

Throughout the play the woman uses an abaya, a traditionaL

Iraqi

acter. Some wear the abaya traditionaLly and others use it as a prop. The Arabic words aa0,es and falno are used throughout. Iraqi words and text to songs can befound in the Arabic Glossary

blacle robe-Like garm ent; to move lom character to char­

we hear is the dawn caLL to praya In A1uslim

countries the caii to prayer is heard five times a day: at dawn,

at midda)!, in the afternoon, at sunset, and finaLly when the

sl?y becomes dade and daytime is over. The caLL to prayer is

heard five times in the

Th e first sound

course of this pLay.

MULLAYA

A woman waLks onstage singing "Che MaLi Wali, " an oLd

traditionaL Iraqi song. She carries a great bundLe on her head. She empties her Load of shoes into the river.

a MuLlaya is a hired woman who Leads caLL and

TraditionaLly

response with women mou rning at funeraLs. She is considered very good ifshe can bring the wom en to a cryingfrenzy with her improvised heartbreaking verses about the dead. Mythic, ceLebratory and inviting, this MuLLaya's mourning is part of her rituaL ablutions.

Early in the morning early in the morning I come to throw dead shoes into the river

without this river there would be no here there would be no beginning it is wh y I come.

9

II

Take off your slippers take off your sandals take off your boots appease the hungry so I can sleep beneath the stars without fear of being consumed or

the river again will flood the river again will be damned the river again will be diverted today the river must eat.

When the grandson of Genghis Kahn burned all the books in Baghdad the river ran black with ink. What color is this river now? It runs the color of old shoes the color of distances the color of soles torn and worn this river is the color of worn soles.

This land berween rwo rivers ­ I only see the one where is the other river more circular and slow? Why only this one straight and fast? Where is the other? And the other land ? Where is anything they said there would be ? We were promised so much the garden of ­

Let me tell you I have walked across it Qurna, Eridu, Ur the Garden of Eden was here its roots and its rivers and before this garden the chaos and the fighting loud and angry children ­ [he dark sea lies bcncarh Illy ( ' 0111111 ), ·.I i ll

I I)

as it has always done sweet and bitter water, children of Nammu. But our marsh lands now are different they've been diverted, dammed and dried. I have walked from there to here from the flood to the highway of death collecting, carrying you can read the story

hereit~, readit~lhere

on my sole.

My feet hurt I have holes in my shoes

I have holes now even in my feet (hcrc are holes everywhere l'ven in this story.

I don't want new shoes!

I would rather swim than walk. Bring me back the water I was created in rite water in which I woke each morning and went to bed each night rhe water in which I swam to school :1I1d milked the buffalo :111<1 listened to the loud voices of frogs hrillg me back the marshes and the fishes reed man, reed woman I would rather swim than walk ­ :llld now the river has developed an appetite for us iLs current runs back bcneath Iraq ro where Apsu and Tiamat are cradling still underneath my country there is no paradise of martyrs only water a great dark sea of desire and I will feed it my worn sole.

11

LAYAL

Layal, an artist, wears the abaya loose!], hanging offher shoul­ ders like a dressing gown or painting smock. LayaL is sexy and eLegant; a resilient and fragile woman. She is a dare devil with a killer smile.

Leave Iraq? (She giggles oddly as she tries to imagine it.)

Well, I could move I suppose ­

My sister wants me to come to London

she has a house and an art studio there now ­

I could

go I have the mone y.

I don't know

m ay be I feel guilty

a ll of us here it's a shame if all the artists leave toO who will be left to inspire the people if all the artists and intellectuals run? Most of them already have my sister included.

I don't judge

I mean for most

they feel they cannot express themselves because always it is life and death ­ even I should have been dead twice before I tell you but I'm not death is onl y teasing me. (She laughs again.) Maybe that's it, maybe I stay because

I feel lucky, I am charmed, what can touch me?

Besides what's to paint outside Iraq? Maybe I am nOt so good anist outside Iraq ­

I ')

Here my work is well known hardly anyone will paint nudes anyway but this is us our bodies, isn't it? Deserted in a void and we are looking for something always I think it's light.

Always I fight to keep transparency hccause once it goes muddy I can't ge t it back. It's IlOt oil, with oil you just paint over wha t you 've done Wilh oil, light it's the last thing yo u add \lIll with watercolor, white is I he space you leave empty from the beginning.

I think I help people maybe to be transcending but secretly. Always I paint them as me or as trees sometimes like I was tellin g yo u. I do not ever want to expose exactly another woman's body 0.;0 I paint my body \lIll her body, herself inside me. So il is not me alone

i l

i~ all of LIS

hili I am the body that takes the experience. Your experience, yourself, I will take it only YO Li and I will know who it is and the others let them say

oh Laya!, again she is

obsessed with her bod y. (GiggLing again.)

I did a pai nting once

eaten by Saddam's son rhat's how I describe it. A beautiful young student, from University of Baghdad -

Uday he asked her out, and she couldn't refuse, he took her a nd beat her brutally, like is his way ­ she went back to campus and her roommate saw the bruises and things and asked her,

of a woman

13

"what happened?"

And she so stupid, inno cent gi rl told her the truth . Why sh e talks such things? Iraqis they kn ow not to op en th ei r mouth not even for th e d ent ise. O f co urse Uday, h e took her back

w ith hi s friend s, th ey

stripped her covered her in hon ey and watched his Dob erm ans ea t h er.

See in my p ainting sh e is th e branc h's blossom leaning over th e barkin g dogs they can not reach no matter how hu ngry they are n o t u n less th ey learn to cl imb h er but they are d ogs, th ey never wil l.

You see, no body knows the painting i:; her but I believe somew here she sees.

Tha t is me, (La ughing.) my ph ilosophy' These stories are living inside of me each woman I m ee t he r o r I hear about her and I cannot separate m yself from th em

I

am so co mpa ss ion ate to th em , so at tac hed -

la, fa,

it

's th e op posite

maybe I am

I am always

I feel I could have

separate, so separa te from the wo men h ere

crying to be part of them .

been anyb od y if I looked different.

Some other arti sts mo re se nio r than myself

wo uld have hoped to be curator of Saddam Art Center

these jobs they are

h ard to come by and

it takes a lot ro get them. Always they make a rumor of me

that I gO[ this positio n because I was having an affair at that time they said with Saddam's cousin ­ they can believe what they like

I don't ca re what peopl e say.

14

Anyway he's dead now of course this cousin ­

a mysterious plane crash you see?

[f -

If I'd had an affair with him

how

Isn't everything in this country a matter of survival?

I d o n't ca re if yo u are with the government or a prisoner of it. I':vt.:n loving jllst rht.: simple act of loving :1 11 rnake yo u suffer so deeply.

wo uld that have made m y life any eas ier?

So iI ' , ;}111 now in a position of grace, favor, rumor So bt: it

I dou'r care

I :111\ still tlying to be revealing something ill Illy trees, my nudes, my portraits of Saddam ­

I k:lr it here .lIld I love it here

I (:IIII\()[ stop what I am here

I .1111 ohs essed by it

I,y tll t.:st.: things that we all are but we are not saying.

"E ith e r I shall die" -

( )11 m y

or I ~halilive a ransom for all th e v ir gi n daughter s of Muslims and

til t: caus e of their deliverance from his h ands to life!"

how does it go?

favo rite , Shaharazad!

(An aching giggle.) "Eimer I shall die

Well, I am not a person of great sacrifice

I have sacrificed in my life, sure but nothing like what I see around me. Anyway that is life. You cannot com pare only be compassionate. 1 try to have understanding of all sides, a nd I have compass ion just not enough.

I'm a good artist.

15

ill

I'm an OK mother.

I'm a miserable wife.

I've loved yes, many but not enough.

Bue I am good at being naked that's what I do, in secret.

AMAL

AmaL is a bright, festive and robust woman ofthirty-eight who Looks so intently at whomever she is taLking to you would swear her eyes never bLinked. She asks many questions; she reaLly thinks there is an answer out there for her. AmaL wears the abaya fastened behind her head and flowing voLuptuously about her body.

I see with my heart not with my eyes.

I am Bedouin

I cannot tell you if a man is fat or if a man is handsome

only I can tell you

I think you see with your heart like a Bedouin.

if I love this man or not.

I do, I very much feel this void and I have no peace always I am looking for peace. Do you know peace?

I think only mens have real peace womans she cannot have peace what you think?

My mother when I come home she is so happy to see me, she

Slllg to me

16

she sing, "Amal my beautiful girl Amal whose hair is black like night i\rnal whose eyes are black like deep coal Amal my daughter whose body is strong for her love" ­ :llld my voice, I have to sing to my mother, "I am home again!" Ihll never I think I am different we in our village we believe our mothers.

I have tis 'ah -

:tlld nobody make me feel fat.

11111 1 learn now I am big

, () don't

9 brothers and 5 sisters

I

you think I am fat? :till very big

I II. It!,

III II

I :t III d i <: 1 now and my childrens toO

1,,1111 t1H,:y :In: diet.

1.1, ti ll I Ilave 2 childrens

II I .lIld H.

M)' It IIshand, first husband, he was Saudi,

II ~' i s II()W in l.ondon 1111 litis hig road [hey call it wltvrt· :dl rile big plastic surgeons are.

It!, illl, I was there with him Ilik,· I.olldon very much I ',llldl' Iltere

I Ii kl' I () w.dl , willt my friends in this Portobello market and-

I I, · 11 II i III.

I W ;!S !Ceding my daughter, Tala, at the .IIIL! driving my son Omar to school

I lorgot some papers for Omar

s() I drove back home to get them :lI1d 1 saw my husband in bed with my very close friend :lnd really I am shock hecause he is Bedouin, but Saudi Bedouin. And even he would say to me when I talked, Juring our relations, he'd say, "don't say these things they are dirty things. " I wanted to enjoy myself with him

time

17

II'

III~

1;1

I~

but he- and then he goes and _

So

I didn't say anything

I tOld a friend go into my house

and get my passpOrt and the children's passport and I left

I never told him why I left.

I came back to Iraq but I didn't like to live in Our tOwn it's too small, I don't feel free even

always my brothers looking OUt for me I feel tOo much closed and so I come ­

not here, la, I ­

I went to Israel first.

You see, our very close tribesman came to visit because my father he is the Sheikh.

This tribesman, he is of the same Bedouin tribe as me, but born Israeli. And always when I was a girl I thinking, oh to marry one from my tribe! We have the same accent, same eyes, same nature, very big heart! This tribesman he never feel the woman his enemy he feel sorry for her and feel only to keep her happy and the woman she feels him very man _ we are very special tOgether. So I marry him, my second marriage and I went to his village in Israel.

He promise me we would move and go to Europe somewheres or Canada but then we never move his wife didn't want aa, his other wife, number one, she makes him stay. He would have taken both of us it could have been good

18

but she was crazy really she was, I think they fight a lot.

Number one, she would leave him to go to her father's house for 6 months at a time and I taking care of her 8 childs.

III
III

I mother one of her childs

I fed her son -

if you feed for more than 7 days, full feeding,

lhat child is like your child and this child must never marry with your child because now they are brother and sister in the milk, so it is haram, sin, because they have your blood inside them both. But wife, number one, she was very skinny, not well she would go away for such a long times ­ we couldn't live together like this he is very jealousy man, very Bedouin ;IIIJ I am looking for this freedom alld he says "No, we are not going to Canada." ,"io I (.:arc very much for him , but again Iidi.

oh Koran, you must know it ­

I (oi11(' back to Iraq with my children IHII 10 Baghdad to be in city.

I ('orne here, and my family don't like III<')' don't support me but ­

I !',Ilt some money.

I 1',llt some money from a friend of Illy first ex-husband, this friend, his name's Sa'ad. Alid we start to talk on the phone, this friend, Sa ' ad, II<' is in London, and me here. We talk for 1 year. I talk ro him honest, I am very honest person

I lold him exactly I am 38, and this is how I look.

I hide nothing from him

I tolJ him everyrhing in my heart l'vcrything I hope and

I felt peace. [l is beautiful to talk so much because he he tells me from inside himself too very deep, very sincere

19

1

I

I'

1 I I' for one year. I felt safe the first time in my life I

for one year.

I felt safe the first time in my life

I felt myself with this man and

I love him! (She laughs.)

We talk and we say we will get married, third marriage, oh! He says let us meet in Dubai because the war it was then and if he comes back home to Iraq they may keep him.

50 I left my job, I left everything.

I telephone to his family congratulations

he telephone to my family and we go to meet in this hotel in Dubai we go to dinner he says after dinner, "I am going I will call you later"

and I waiting in my hotel room so happy to see this man I love.

I telephone hims at 2 A.M. and he says, "No, not now I am drunk" ­

I say, "Let us talk I want to talk

, we spent one year on the phone talking everything, finally we see

each other my hean is so full to share" ­ he says, "No Amal" "No" he says , "It is over, do not taJk to me anymore."

I am crying really I don't understand what he means

but he say, "You are too pure for me what yo u do with a man like me? I am 20 year older than you soon I will be very olds man and you will have to take care of me you are too good, too innocent for me."

I don't understand hims say this thing because I love him, and he says, "No" "No," he says, "you are not the Amal I love."

What does this mean?

I am not the Amal he love?

\ low he say this? Why can this be?

\ am shamed to my family

t11<.!y think he slept with me that night

we meet in Dubai :IIlJ change his mind.

\ don'r have peace.

!\Iw:lys I am asking myself what he think of me? WII:t1 II ~' seed in me that change him? \ :,,"(" IIOW \ ;tm fat. N IIW \ look I~ll'the first time to dress myself more pretty I .1111 dOllig Illy hair this way­ 1'111 \ dOIl'r see hims fat, I don't see hims old I ',1' 1' II IIIIS with my heart not with my eyes

Jove a man this much.

. 111( I II<.:v\.:r have I 1'\1(' 11 \ love him.

I","l' l\.

My ("X- husband , first

III Itl'illg the children to London '.11 d(('y will see their father on the weekends ,111(1 It ,IV!' rheir schooling there

one, got us passports

/", /11,

I t1link I told you this already.

\'.111 .t1W:I)'S I am thinking wll,lI it \ IIlil into 5a 'a d when I go there?

\ wllllid ,~hake with all of me on my face

I .1011'1 kllOW I can hide it

\ will have my freedom there

\1111

lIor my peace

IlIaylw lieedom is the better than peace?

\ !lave never talked this before

Ilobody here knows this thing about me

\ keep it in my heart only oh, I talk a lot!

I wish to be like this (She laughs heartily.)

1 want to be like you

20

21

this is the most free moment of m y life really I mean this oh
this is the most free moment of m y life really I mean this oh

this is the most free moment of m y life really I mean this oh really I love you, like a sister I love you the most free moment of my life. Don't leave, stay with me oh I need to talk every day this way. Is this American way? Tell me what you think what should I do ?

I want to memori ze what yo u say, so I can be this way freedom again.

But what do think he means, I am not the And he I()v (' ~

HUDA

A

whiskey drinker with over fifty years o(~·/J/II/ f fuda is

an Iraqi exile in her seventies now li/liJl,~ill 1.lIm/on. She has

a keen sense ofhumor.

:illg.

Well exile in London for the intellectuals

is

it used to be Gauloises toO but I have given up smoking ­ Anyway. I tell yo u our dilemma some in the opposition praise America 100 perce I'll they know they are the only power and the whole poli cy of the

mostly scotch, of course politics , and poetry

world is in their hands. Personally, I have m y doubts about American policy, still I prefer this chaos to permanent repression and cruelty because Saddam was the worst enemy to the people than anybody else.

He beheaded 70 women for being prostitutes, but he made them prostitutes. Saddam's stooges, they'd kidnap a woman just going from her car to her house,

22

and take her as a slave, sex slave,

or house slave when they were in their hideouts

and when they'd finish with her he would go to her family saying, "she is a prostitute" and he'd behead her and put her head in the street. There was no law if you are a prostitute you are beheaded. So, what chaos is worse than this? Let it be chaos at least something will come out of it. Maybe it's the only way

but I am for the war.

I didn't go to that antiwar march , fa

in London alone they said there was what, ya 'ni,

one million, two million in Hyde Park?

I couldn't march with anyone who was pro Saddam.

I protested all my life, I was always political

even I was bourgeois - in '58 anybody who was intelligent was communist. When I lived in Beirut during their war I protested toO,

evelywhere I go there is a war. (She laughs and hacks.)

I walked for peace in Vietnam,

I walked for Chile,

but this war it was personal, this war was against all my beliefs

and yet I wanted it. Because Saddam Saddam was the greater enemy than, I mean, imperialism ­

THE DOCTOR

Nauseous, she throws up. She washes her hands, then dries

them on the abaya. Throughout she

hands clean. Exhausted, she clings to the forensic.

is desp erate to keep her

I'm sorry, it's probably just the smell of the sewage backing up in the ward.

23

\'

WI I

;'

i,l

\' WI I ;' i,l   I feel fine, fine, let's go on, it's just, it's
 

I feel fine, fine, let's go on, it's just, it's so hot and the smell of it makes me - (Yelling offstage.) Would somebody come clean this shit up before I slip in it!

Damn it! I lost her. The baby should be dead, not her. God she had enough, she had three girls at home, but she insisted hoping for a boy. What am I supposed to tell her husband? Here, it's your first born son, I'm sorry he has twO heads?

More than ultrasound, incubators, Panadol, anything, I need some

-

who can I ask? Look, just this month, I'll tell you, I've started counting: six babies no head, four abnormally large heads, now today another one with two heads. Such high levels of genetic dam­ age does not occur naturally. These things maybe you see them once in a textbook.

And the cancers, la, I've never seen them before in Iraq, girls of seven, eight years old with breast cancer. I told this girl, 10 years old, she came in, she thought her breasts were developing but it was only on one side. It was the cancer. I told her it's OK, you can be like me, see how strong I am, I had breast cancer. She said, "I want to see it," so I showed her my scar, she hugged me. She thought she was developing. But it's toddlers even with breast cancer, multiple cancers in the same patient, whole families each one suffering from cancer.

And what can stop it? I mean the children, they play at the sites even when they're fenced off, they take the bullets to school to show their classmates what they collected from America. One came in wearing a bullet around his neck, a bullet tipped in depleted ura­ nium around his neck.

Especially here in Basra it's in the Shan aI Arab, so it's in all the water, it's in the food, but if it's airborne like they say - haven't you noticed something? It could be depleted uranium, or chemicals released from

I

the bombings during the GulfWar, but I can see something changed in the environment - giant squash, huge tomatoes. They say the

I

radiation in plants now is at 84 times the safety limit. But who can clean it? Ever? We will have this depleted uranium for what? 4000 years? How many generations is that growing up handicapped? I am afraid to see them when they're grown.

24

1\ ". hClll:r maybe, death­

rvlv

rV\II"\ or Ollr men are

l'ld, '

" II 11.1 i ll<''' i II Ik West, I could

\V, Ii

til'

I ! ,,, I, . ,1

\,11 ,1

, 'I

'.! J'I/

"li (, 1 illll'llf.

 

11 1 ' \11

IIII<',

I'm fine

I

",

I' I'! ',II ;1111.

husband says death is worse,

il-mawt yihrig il-galub, death

1'11111" Ihe heart. But I don't believe-

already deformed from the wars. My husband

Il l' " jlS ;1\ home without his legs. He can' t make money sitting at IlIlIlII'. whar's left of the man, I can't even look at him now, he's my

,I I ,llh SI'III CIICC. I don't care, honestly I don't care what I say. I'm a

,1 " il;II\\cd or myself but it sickens me. We won't survive it, I

IV'III '\; ,'111:\ doctor , in can't do anything. I trained in England, we

have gone anywhere, I came back,

\' ,11 k llll "" w ll:1I l ' IlI Ial ki ng about, we had the best hospitals in the

1\ 11,1,11, 1' ."1 , "Vl.' I' )' OI1l' was coming to us, and what are we now?

II', II ', II/,ll,. / 1) (/)'11 Allah? (She is nauseous again.)

IRAQI GIRL

I I'e girl plays with the abaya wrapping it about her head like long luxurious hair and other times bundling it up to be her bilby dolL. Howeve7~ we first catch her dancing with great abandon in her living room to a band like NSYNC on her new satellite TV* The electricity suddenly goes off She yells out something like: "Momma, the electricity is out! Momma, put the generator on! Momma, my video! NSYNCf"

I II:tle my momma! nil)?!, my father he said I am smart 11111 Momma says I am stupid.

, '"" . Special Note on Songs and Recordings on cop yright page ,

25

.1 I I
.1
I
I

1/1

I

I

I

!

 

I

1

'1

 

'

I 'II

[

III

'\

IIIIW we can't go anywheres without ",\' IlllCle, Ammu Abdul h, (ol11es here with his sons, mostly Karem and Khalid I'l' , .IU SC we have no men.

11111 (·V<.:l1 they haven't taken me to the swimming pool for two

·· """\I <.:I"S now. M,'yht.: it's dry up? [vl \1 friend Lulu , she thinks the Americans are using it.

I have not been to school since America came

"You are stupid" she say, "you don't need to go to school."

But I think she didn't like the soldiers carnes to our school they looked like N5YNC, mostly Justin Timberlake, and they made all the girls to laughing really hard and since that day she won't let me go to school because I waved to them.

W. dOIl'1 go an yw here ­

" .dl v"!

1\ I"""n., s ill' d()~'sn't even go to work an ymore

So I never leave the hou se. Even though I can speaks English better than anyone.

, I My grandparents were scared because they don'c speaks English

I and soldiers came knocking on their door speaking English, it was the night, but they didn't understand so they ran to hide under the beds and a tank, I think it was an Abrams they ran the Abrahams into the house and it took down half the house. They were 80 years old my grandparents but they didn't speaks English. So even we are afraid to sleeps on the roof In the summer I used to put my bed on the roof under the stars and baba, my father he used to told me all the stories of the stars began from Babylon . lt's juSt down the road past Saddam city- no, 5adr city.

,. 1"

\ 11'

" 1"1 on. "

\V .,"

", ' V ' " I,· " v(' .~ the house

,

.f

'

I"

,,, !'," III lite market

wid, "'\' 1111\ Ie

11,,1 I It I. II ('

.1" ", ,dl.,id of getting stolen by gangs

ilw y s i c al women for money

,'" IV

"'

I II Y 'I) ,ell Momma she won't get stolen

1",1

d" \' tI"l y sleal

g oes she cover s her hair

~

h

(;

'" ,,,,II th em .

111'

" lit'

is Ilot that nice

·,.:l YS .

people whose families have money.

1\ I! ,

,1",,', " ''''Ili' your fates, '" ,w d'l'Y .~Il':lliittlegirls to take them out of the country," 1",1., 1' I dlllllghr

III.' "I It

I

\ ltl II tid

get stolens

' , II

I ,tlllld leave

my country.

I I" TV ~, (lJl

Oprah, I saw people

II" II 1.:1 ve so many hard lives, at first we feel bad for them

11111 ."ways by some miracles their things get better.

1 ; ,d,I Y ~'v e n they s howed

I',ql:l ."iaddam on TYs

,llId t Itey look through his hair to make fun of him ­

I )11 you have lice in your hair? -

III IItt' school when we want to be the most cruel

'" t he poorest kids.

I )11 you have lice?

I don't know if he had lice ­

27

We have so much problems on TYs. On TYs I see suicide bombings not juSt for Baghdad but allover Iraq and I felt bad _ but my cousin Karem he says, "No these are not Iraqis Iraqis don't know how to kill themselves."

I think something must be a secret because

26

that is always how we tease

I

il

'I!

,

I

l

II ')

I

I ill

but ro see it like that he looked like an old man

I like a baby.

'II

I

I felt sorry for him but I didn't cry. Momma she cried she said, "Saddam stole my sons" "he stole my sons" _

I had three brothers who were bigger

I didn't really know them , they were martyrs she always says, "Saddam stole my sons" _

so maybe she cries to see him on TVs thinking, now he won't give their bones back? Because she says, "what now" "what now" "what now" she is very-

I am not stupid

I count bombs even

I COUnt between the

hissing when it is high until the sound becomes low then two seconds - and it explodes! If I hear the hissing I know it's in our neighborhood like in a few blocks

then I hear glass breaking for 4 seconds after the hit.

I can tell if it is RPG 's or American, tank or armor vehicle, Kalashnikov or MIG and I have bullets from both _

but I gave one ro Karem, he made a key chain from the MIG bullet because they are longer and he says "more elegant." We don't have a machine gun anymore. Everybody on our street has maybe a pistol or machine gun in case for troubles. Now we have a pistol. But only one. Momma taught me how ro use it.

I know I am not stupid _

28

I 1"llIld Illy fath er's notebooks upstairs

1" , IiIlP, under the floor

I"

I

11.1(1 sOllie math books up there and some notebooks­

111,,1, Ollt: .

I 1

I" 1'1,1, · Iliggcr than me.

1. 10 it' ro keep my head busy even though the maths are for

1,,1 I , ;111 unde rstand some of the

maths­

,1\ III

I I' .1.1 i ll Ilis lIolc book

I II( I:i )'

111.11

" S .IIIII1I1I

; , ,"

tll

".~1111111111.1 Ill y 1H'lovcd

llI

I'. IIIL'

ii's Jatcd Ocrober 5, 2002,

was at school

1Ii,I II,,'y ,,,ked Itn,

' 111 \"

'''II' V\'I vi~iled Babylon?'

:\ 11,1 .',.1111111111 .1. sill' rold them, 'Of course I've been,

'. \

' . !"

II 1111',111 Iwc;lllse

'It '

1'''1

I I., \' will .lIresr me now

I ·, II,,"1,11t,lv ~· (aught her

Iltll' I ·"IV.'

II'

SaJJam

put his name on

the bricks of Babylon

' .1111101 pllt his name on the stars over Iraq.'

for

how to lie."

this and I am sure to die.

I I' "" 1Ii11 ~'1 .~OIllC mens came ro our house

I

1\ r I ' /'"hrt is S o s mart about the stars over Babylon our president,

1, 01, , · Ill y

1; ,t1l c r -

they said

i,.

II, ,·.Is hilll.

I I, IV" 1101 scc n him since I was 7.

~1"111111:1 "Iought after the war with America

I 111I1',1t1 come home

11111 1I0hody seen him I w(' klven't moved.

I I til walle co study because if he does come home

I II.IV!.: to be smarter than when he left.

\I

/\, Ilially

I ,'rid today too

wl!l'll l saw Papa Saddam on TVs 1,1'( :\lI.~e he srole my father so

I tll()light he was bigger than anyone

1,," he didn't even fight to death.

29

IIII!

I felt ashames, because why I am afraid from him all my life? Momma she is right

I am stupid.

UMMGHADA

Throws the abaya down forcefully; it is a black hole. A woman ofgreat stillness and pride, peacefull and dispassionate.

I named my daughter Ghada. Ghada means tomorrow.

So I am Umm Ghada, "Mother ofGhada. "

It is a sign of joy and respect to call a parent by their kunya.

In Baghdad,

I am famous now as Umm Ghada

because I do live here in yellow trailer outside Amiriyya bomb shelter since the bombing

13 February 1991.

Yes I was inside with nine from my family talking, laughing

then such a pounding, shaking everything is fire

I couldn't find my children

I couldn't find my way out but somehow I did.

In the whole day later

I am searching, searching charred bodies bodies they were fused together the only body I did recognize

is my daughter Ghada

so I did take her name (With so much pride.)

I am Umm Ghada, Mother of Ghada.

30

I 11111 har<.l to understand

wi, y I slII"vive 11,,1 Illy children dead. i .,·.1,,·" Il) Allah why?

W ill'

1' 11 . 11

Y"ll make me alive? lIighl all people died

1""1 IlIlIldred three people ,",1 Ihen.', nothing we can do. They are dead.

II"" 1I.liln is my witness stand

II 1,11,,10, 011 Ihi s wall- and here -

w,dl 1·I"j~~.lrics from the world

\\ 11<1. ,,"I,' 10 ;\Jlliriyya shelter to look

\\

11"1 wl,," !lI' 'Y Il·.1<1 ill papers

11 II

I' .llI y I IPll l ·1I hne

are me

.11

""

!II til'

( ·NN.

i j.

I'

I'. 1; 11<"" I,,,,,k they all sign,

\ " 111

II III"

will Ill' witness too.

I I 1111".1 ·.II"w it LO you first. Ta'al. (She enters the shelter; it is

,,' /1/ .,' 111/1 , - 1I'(

.1I' e her subtle limp.)

11,1'. I', !\lIlIri )')' :t bomb shelter.

II , II 1111 I' wrill' names

,II' 1,111\ "WI di e smoked figures. i " " , 1111 till' <:eiling, you can see , 1'111' ,11""lllprints and footprints I,. >111 I 'I'll "I,· who lay in the top bunks. \,"1 111'11' :1silhouette of a woman

\

'I"

'11Inl li 'om heat .

II"

111I1',c room became an oven,

11111

tll ~')' pre s sed to the walls to escape from the flames.

III

!I

1);I.~('[llent toO

1""111•.\ IIIIrSt [he pipes

1'"1 w.lllT came up to 5 feet

11111 I".ile<.l the people.

I d. /d. I do not want to show you there

II

I

1"0 111 uch

dl" walls are stuck with hairs and skin.

31

:

I

,

1/

'

I

I' II

I

,

I

j

i

/Iill il

I!

j

11111

Come, I will take you to the roof you can see how the hole was made. (As she walks towards the hole

in the

roof we hear the midday calf to

pauses briefly to acknowledge it.)

Two bombs from U.S. airplane come to this point of the roof.

The first bomb is drilling bomb drilled this hole

second one come inside exactly same Spot and exploded in fires.

prayer off in the distance; she

The U.S. said they thought this is communication center for military. Myself, I think they were testing bomb _ these bomb had never been use before but it is special two-bomb design for breaking only a bomb shelter. It is very purpose. It is very purpose.

Now look around this hole wild greens they are growing life did choose to root here in this grave ofIraqi people. All my family is here, Ghada is here so I am Umm Ghada, Mother of Tomorrow. My full name is dead with them.

Come. Now you sign the witness book.

32

LAYAL

I II Jllil II/d.:;- up a pai n tb r ush and returns to her painting.

W' ["II

\\

\\

I, "

I111W"

1"'11 11 ", :'

"",,, i

\,

II

"

L 1\ ""

~! 1. 1_1) _1Y t

i

,

i~ :, 1, " ,1,1111 ;1111

I.v ilh a sign

1I 1i "

' Ii

.

:

11

,'[1

\ ' illl W:tlll,

If n ' , or , 1. " ' 1" ,>'

Vj ; , j ,

I"

'!lil ," " wi lll,ay the bill.

-'I! \ ""11 " 111.111, :1 II.;Cnager,

l iP 1\111

h" l ' l ' )'

I"

,

II,

111

I~" il,, ' r, l ,( , m e al,

.

.111.1 ,',11."

alld eats

\ I" "

I" , I ' . ,1"ll c c;uing all he wants

tI" \\ 111, ' 1 1" ill g s him a

bill.

11 11 \'1111111',111:111 says to

the waiter,

r ~ '"

\11111

~ ig ll s ays fr e e of charge,

I"' 1',1,11111.\(111 will pay

the bill. "

II"

II ,Ii"

,!,

says , "Yes, indeed sir,

1,'11 1111"

I h.;. i '. )' tlI1l' g randfather 's bill. " (She laughs.)

~" 1',l.IlldLllher's bill!

\ ' ''' 1<lI()w my house was

hit , from Bush's war, aa, aa

I \1 .1',11', lhere, if-hamdu-liflah,

1'"1 W I ' lost everything, my paintings for the new exhibition 111\ f.llllily's things, everything.

I 11.11 's why

I'm living here, at my sister's house.

II IV.IS only 8 houses from here ­

IIII~ I,cighborhood they bomb, Mansour, can you believe it? ' ,,, lu)w smart is this bomb

If it homb a painter? (She Laughs.)

33

Maybe they think I am dangerous! Maybe I am, I am attached like I will
Maybe they think I am dangerous!
Maybe I am, I am attached like I will die if I leave.
I
think you're dangerous _
most Americans they are not so attached this way
they feel so free, even to be alone
they are not tied to each other or to anyone.
I
am afraid to be alone
I
don't want freedom - to be alone?
I
don't care for it, I like protection
all I want is to feel
it,
love _
I
am crazy for it,
am hungry every morning like I have never eaten before,
and there is never enough to feed me
so when I find more
I
risk everything for it
oblivion even, I don't care
I
submit completely.
And still I am empty
I never feel worth
because I shouldn't be so hungry
because others are not so hungry
I
or they can control it -
but I cannot control myself
I
cannot keep my mind from flesh.
tell you, even when I fell in love
not with my husband
after I was married
really I fell in love
it humiliated me
to finally see
how much of myself I could never be
and I hated it
not to be full
not to feel whole
it's rhe worst feeling this occupation
to inhabit your body bur not to. be able to live in it.
I
So I had an affair! (She laughs.)
34

I 1' 1 "1 ),.'.('lf lo ve him -

Wi

W,

\( '

iII~I a boy

and a girl in art school

j"'II'IIII,'" "r:lwing, expressive )' ,," 1,111'1 illlagine the freedoms WI 1. ,111 Ic ,l hns from allover the world coming to Baghdad

-

I W, I' , V l"1 Y Itl(' , \sy

" I wll"lt Ill y 11I\.\ ha nd found out

I

,, 1

1

"II ' ,

I 11'"")',1,1 I \V,", d(';ld .

'" tI", ('I\\('I I.\CI\(

1\,,,1

II II

II

1 Vi ' "

' '''P'i

tI"

rill

\' .tI,

,~

,

J'ill

111

I i.

\

1',IIl1 , II '. , 11.1 (1 '

!

I

" I \1

.

',1111'1" '"

Yroom

I was saying

\V, ' " ,\1(', il was an accident.

.1 II till

it

"II' Irol1l having an affair again!

I JlII,,1

", "

I",

'"

1'"1

"

\\

" '"

"11' (' 11

tI

-

y

11111,"1 I)~' so

hungry

tI., )/ IlIv( ' wilh slICh a sacrifice

" I"" I',

I "II )'"11, \ ' "" ' 11

\" 1,, II

tI,is w,ly

,

.

,,1.\1 111"1 1

11 1\' 1\ ' " l"vlIll\ like you will die without something­

" "" I. 'v.' I.l t(, :111 Iraqi woman! (Laughing.) Shaharazad!

I II. A"" 'l i( ,IllS rhey have

It., lil',\ till'}' have such a big footprint, they feel guilty,

this passion to save everything

II I' , 11\' ,I ve ry handsome teenager

, ",tI-' ,I"" sirong

1"",'''"11,11 e. selfish, charming 1'111 tI H' y don ' t think.

\

""

i'"1

II.IVl'

W:II' now

'" ',Id(' you , like a burden, like an orphan

Will, r'rl'c.:Jom, intelligence, all opportunity and choice

,I' I w,' lether you to something so old you cannot see it­ w, Il.lve you chained '" tll(' desert '"

YOIII' blood

35

I

bombs he can recognize the street and the nei ghborhoods where all hi s fami ly lives sti ll.

you carry it in you - it's lifetimes and you fight your war to unchain yourself you come back you feel at home here maybe different maybe more than in your country ­ but you hate us too because you cannot breathe because women here, we are not free ­ you are not free, you love roo much. It's the sa me , all , anywhere you live if you love like an Iraqi woman if you love like you cannot breathe.

I watch 'IV lookin g f( )r faces of our fami ly so all T do is cry. But my clad hc can't so he end~ lip choking and m aking himself sick I mean he's liv ed h t: rc in rhe U.S. for 40 yt:;m he plays go lf 5 times a wn·k. He's JUSt sad but conraill('( 1 because you can't

you JUSt can I

watch it

on TV

I'm on my kll c,c.\ usuall y in the middle of' my apartment with my 1l1otll We're on LiH' phone I'm watching I'm holding a rosary

THE AMERICAN

Huddled, she hasn't left her studio in New York City for days; she is glued to the TV

Now they' re digging through mass graves with th eir bare hand s and one guy on TV I saw him he found a pack of cigarettes and he said my brother smoked this kind of cigarette so this is my brother's body and he took the bones with him so he could bury them what he thought was his brother.

I've never seen men cry like that.

I watch my dad try not to cry because when he's watching TV and it's green nighttime footage of

36

watchin~ CNN I wanl' 1() 'pr:ty but T dOll't have word~ so I say Lilcir
watchin~
CNN
I wanl' 1() 'pr:ty
but T dOll't have
word~
so I say Lilcir names
ou[ loud

37

i ,III

\

!

I··

Saati'a, Zuhayir, Huda, Zuhira, Behnam, Rabab over and over trying to see them alive because we don't know anything we can't

call

we can't get through on the phones

still and now now people are burying their dead in their backyard in their garden the football field it's everyday

a police station

my uncle Saati' a lives next to a police station my uncle Zuhayir lives next to the airport Amma Huda - next to the Palestine Hotel Amma Zuhira - in Karrada - Mount Lebanon my cousin Maysoon she used to work for the U.N. but the whole face got blown off - I'm reading on the bus ­

They never forget ever. They carry everything with them.

I mean everything they are, they're so attached like great-grandparents, parents, children it lives in them , walks with them they can't let go of anything they hold it all inside them. So when they cry it's lifetimes I've never seen anything like it.

38

HUDA

I can't move

I am here ill London now this is where my husband died, in this house and I didn'L change a thing from that time

I kept th e hOll se the sa me,

his picwre , everyrhing.

I was inviled ro go back, so many people I was working with have

re[lirned bur

I

Baghdad, l .eh:1l1on, Istanbul, Baghdad again,

anyway. America o{'krcd me lots of money to go back

have moved ') 1i I\1C S in my life -

always fleeing

but I don'! beli eve themselves .

ill [his , some Iraqis they are just selling

I said let the }' Ollll g

but they an; lOll ali'aid (0 speal( up

they are shcll-slwckcd, all these girls after th e G ull' War, rhey go backwards

they abandoll th eir

now they an.: w(."aring the veils. Their gr,lIldllwrlt c rs arc more liberated than them.

ones living there have a chance with the policies

education and now,

I am in a p c rio,l or disheartenment everywhere. Maybe I should

be there.

I don't know what to do with myself now, I have doubts, yeah, well about my whole life .

I don't kcl I haY(' achieved what I wanted, my potential. The worsr lhin g I fea r most now is civil war. Iraqis do n't waJlt to be cut up, to be separated. Ya 'ni, we had fine interrelations my family married with the Shi ' a, my husband was a Kurd there wa s no segregation sort of thing ­ these peopl e, they have been living together in this area for thou sa nds of years. If we want to sculpt a nation

39

we cannot hack away at it without a plan for the human being. Each moment it is vital ­

the Golden Mosque -

We are fighting for who they will trUSt ­

Samarra.

I wanted, we all wanted Saddam to go during the Gulf War

that was our moment - the people made this big rebellion, 16 out of 18 provinces fell and they were sure America would help them but America turned its back. America made a no-fly zone and when they saw Saddam going with his helicopters to execute his own people they allowed him to fly. It was a blood bath, Saddam killed tens of thousands, trucks full and he buried them just mass graves.

I don't beli eve anymore

of revolution co change the values developmenr must grow carefully, gradually, not suddenly it has to grow more deep-rooted. Even though I can say we all call say congratularions the regime is gOlle . Sadd am is gOlle.

in revolution, ya 'ni,

the concept

Then the worst 13 years suffering ­ This what do you call it? Hisar? Embargo? And it made Saddam stronger and the country more backwards and religious, and funny enough Saddam he was never religious, but when the middle class are selling their books on the street in order to eat they felt the whole world had abandoned them. And this isolation mentality cannot now be changed suddenly ­ this 13 years embargo just gave the fundamentalists their legitimacy.

I mean look how they are voting. I don't recognize my country.

The mistake is not the war, no America had to do it the mistake was supporting Saddam all his life. All the Arab countries too - they treat him like a buddy, a king, giving him all these weapons to fight this 8 years war with Iran and he gas Halabja, he drained the marshes ­ And finally, after all these years, they found him an old man in a hole and they want to give this man a fair trial? No. He was always who he is - he is a savage.

It's a cycle now, Fallujah, Najaf,

40

NANNA

Nil""" i.l' 1111 oLd. old wornan, scrappy and shrewed, she has

scct! i/ i!ll.

.<';iJ(' 11'("111 )' til(' tlbflya traditional01 over her head so only her

.'1'11(' is .I('/Ii ng anything she can on the street corner.

f i la i (W! Iii/lids remain sh owi ng. We hear

jlrrt)li"l' (dri" the distance.

the third call to

Hallo Hallo you like 10 hu y? These rhill)',s vc.: ry ni ce very old

from good 1:1!llily.

We have old no not rhal old.

Not ;lncic!l!.

Hallo I Ldlo

I'm here, hne always hc.:rc

this Illy spo t.

I scc I hings

I sec c.:verything ­

41

I.

I

saw the looting

National Archives,

these are not Iraqis

Koranic Library

Iraqis are not so degraded as this ­

took

a11­

but maybe some people

it was not accident I saw a map they knew what to take

bricks

they were told what to take

from

and nobody scopped them

palaces

 

and they

only. There were too many anyway.

burned them gone. Our hiscory is finished. Sunni, Shi ' a, Kurd,

I

heard a marines saying,

 

Christian even, .lew ­

"Go

in Ali Baba -

go in

If they take what. we share,

take what is yours."

it is easier

Aa, they wanted us to have

to finish.

everything!

It's freedom to have!

It's revenge

Chal chal 'alayya!

no

God's revengt.:

I

have too much existence

upon us

have lived through 23 revolutions my life has been spared

I

because we Jitln'l we were [csled and

if

my life has been spared

we didn'[

to whom do I owe my debt?

finish

I

have so much to repay. To whom do lowe my debt?

get rid o( Saddam

(She spots another customer.)

ourselvc:> we

Hallo Hallo you like to buy? We have very old, very special old ­

deserve maybe

OK, OK, (She chooses to confide in her original customer but only at a whisper.)

we were silenc our history is

I saw

Iraqi peoples

When 1 was young in the school

bringing petrol,

they bad lIS ("() draw

shhh

our Lmily I ree ­

and

my morher had a new dress

burning

it's wirh ruffle and flowers

all

thar I loved

42

43

and she wear it in the house

I think every day for many weeks. So I draw my mother like a big flower with ruffles. My teacher say no it is wrong before Allah drawing her hair and her body showing _

I am disrespecting. So I look to the other children and they drawing only the fathers and grandfathers because of the name-line.

So I just erased her, my mother it was only pencil.

THE AMERICAN

Here there's space we throw our arms wide Amber Alerts and seven men get trapped underground and we stop everything we fly in engineers to save everything we make a movie we go on Oprah, we talk about it like we are moving on or maybe we can t Oprah, we talk about it like we are moving on or maybe we can t move on but JUSt one trauma we say

II

,

OK

this can change you possibly your psychology, for the rest of your life

OK.

But there's no one saying ­ you possibly your psychology, for the rest of your life OK. 44 when their parents get

44

when their parents get blown apart in front of their eyes or their sons are kidnapped trying to go to work or hacked to death and there's a rank in my ammu's front yard ­ or they survive everything over and over and over again for as many years as I've been alive my cousins who are, who could have been the same as me told me they wouldll't get marrieJ because if they someday saw a chance to get OUl they had to (;Ike il and not look h;«k. They never srop looking back. The three lb :ll escaped they had to walch ir e)l1 TV the second \Val they said mayhe il \ worse seeing it on TV sick, thq can't prolect the family. But my dad ~aid maybe it', hClicr for the 1'111 lin' but if we lose JUSt Ollc one it won't be worth ic

Behnam

Rabal)

45

Ammar

I'm sick

Bashshar

my stom;lch

Nassar

I

can't get out of my ­

Luma

it's a bea uriful

warm day

and I'm a cave. I can't walk down the street and see people smiling ­

dragging bodies through the street

for th e rcsr or Illy life Iraqis arc allimals

I should get out

get something to ear. I'm fat.

I should just go to the gym and run. God I'm so stressed out

maybe

I should take a yoga class instead?

Anyway I can watch it at the gym people work Out to the war on 3 channels. They drink beer at the bar to the war.

I mean, I'm blonde

ch ee ring, dragging bodies through the street.

But

m y f;lJllily can't even leave their house

and

I can't ca ll

still

and we're

 

smiling

pOIntlng

at

a man

naked

with a

sa ndhag Oil hi s head

raped

with a c hellli

c :11 li g ht,

rold to masturbate .

I canm)[ Cll'l' y it

and the/n;

thumbs-up

smiling

don't tell I1le they didn't kllow

their joh

not wirh .~llIilillg

every ph o to

they wen.:

smiling.

How G ill

I ever

go horn e agaill

and sit in my Im/ ma:" kitchen and say I'm

I'm sorry

so rr y

47

I hear everything people say.

I can't stop

I wake up and fall asleep with the TV on holding a rosary

watching-

I

know

I should just turn it off but I won't

I hate it when people say

I don't watch

It

anymore

it depresses me

yeah

it

depresses me

I

can't

breathe ­

46

I'm­

we just keep going

subway

rush rush

Christmas shopping

and

"The war, it's all so heartbreaking don't you think?"

I don't even know

hundreds of thousands? How many Iraqis?

And

a woman actually turned to me

and said that she said, "The war it's all so heartbreaking."

She was getting a pedicure.

Jwas getting a fucking pedicure.

I walk

I can't walk

down

the street

I want

New York to stop. Why don't we count the number of Iraqi dead?

and YOll look at me like a whore for choosing to paim portraits of Saddam and now you look at me like a whore for thinking, just thinking to do th is lllosaic for the floor of the Rashid Hotel? But whar arc you creating with your freedom?

I am mor(' free rhan you.

You beg me to leave

to get Olll whik I G ill, I am getting too involved

insisting I ge l (Hll' for my safety.

Wh y? Whal is s:ifc? There is no safe.

I wish I Wl;rC :d'raid

I am hl.:)'o'HI :d'raid ­

I am

s traighr inlo it always lil« ' tili ,\ J :l lil running since rite lh y (11 )' hli shalll] shot me because I sll(lltld ]l.lve been dead but I wa s n'l

So what ;\111 I~

Why am I :tl ivl'?

To be 111:ld('

his cOllsill, Ili,\ hlntil",", the ministers of-

jllSl I'\lllllilll~' rllnning

luv( ' 10 ·

passed around from one man to another

Why?

and now

a m

I aW:lrl' tll.ll I mliSI die,

am

I C< lIl1pli li l.

Wher e

el s e can I go with my hate?

LAYAL

Who w ill Pl 'Ol lT I IIl C hur

the regime?

 

Always I 11111 10 Ihe lll, I come crying, begging, take care of me

 

th

ey

1)('('(1

111 l' In do it, oh they love me to run to them crying

Why are you here?

so rlll')' ( ':In 11:lv c

JIll',

Don't look at me like that always this pressure on me

I can't bear it -

your look.

You tell me about freedom, about choice and possibilities and then you look at me like a whore for choosing to paint myself naked

If I :1I1l !lui al r:lid thell there is no feeling,

Your ('),e,\ say 1.0 me that I am a whore

their eyl',\ say I am the most beautiful woman in Baghdad

I

I haw h C(,(1 raped and raped and raped and raped and I W :1111 more

th ey S( ' ( ' lIIl' , th ey recognize me for what I am

:llll til<'ir 1;llll1la in

48

49

that is freedom they will never kill me ­

HUDA

they brought her baby, 3 months-old baby, outside the cell they put this woman's baby in a bag with starving cats they tape-recorded the sound of this and of her rape and they played it for her husband in his cell. That is how they do it.

So how these people could have liberated themselves?

- we just woke up

we heard a shot and gunfire and things and we thought it would pass and something would happen

nothing ­ we gathered all the friends, in the street you know to see what's going to happen and we never went back to our house ­

this was the coup, 1963 -

They came with their Kalashnikovs and their boots and so on going house by house arresting people. I was held, eh, 2 and half months, my husband 4 and a half months we were pro-Abd al-karim Qasim, we were the leftist. 180,000 people were just arrested from Baghdad and all the elite you know, the artists and architects - everybody, intellectuals ­ we were communist then but not violent, the Ba' thist only took

it was a Friday.

us because we disagreed.

The prison status was terrible we stayed lying on the floor only lying like sardines. We were naked. I remember one woman she got her period. You know what they do when a woman gets her period? They hang her upside down naked her blood runs on her, for her whole cycle like that, upside down. Anyway. That was that.

Anyway, nightmare.

When we got out of jail we made passports, fake passports and we fled across th e desert with our wet clothes on our back.

I did washing but we didn't wait to dry them . (She laughs and hacks.)

Myself, toO, it takes a lifetime to be liberated.

OK, are you hungry? I'm having another whiskey. (She pours her­

selfanother drink.)

You think the people don't want liberation? For every one Iraqi police officer who dies there are 200 more desperate to risk everything waiting in line with their applications to take his place. How many Iraqi police have died? Protect them, empower them. Otherwise to live like this it is not liberation it is masochism.

lAYAL

We could hear things, all night, always rape, or rape with electronic instruments. But their way, I promise you, their way was to torture the people close to you that is how they'd do it. One woman I was with

50

;1 loud bombing raid, everything is shaking. Layal is scream­ ing into the phone.

WIIl 'II is "his going to stop?

51

I don't care what time it is

Why don't you do something about it?

I hear the sounds -

and I can't make it through another one.

something -

like it's in my house

La, targets! How they blow up a house in this neighborhood? This is a rich neighborhood and they say it is an accident? No, it is on purpose or stupidity! How they do it? Why my house?

I feel like an animal every time I hear that sound.

I am tired, I want my house back ­

No, I am sorry

no, eh­ of course it's late, your wife, she's next to you I'm just, I am angry and I don't know where to be in this.

No, my husband he sleeps upstairs he can sleep through anything.

Don't ask me now again.

I told you I don't know how to do mosaic ­

I am a painter, why he wants me?

I don't know how.

La, don't tell him I don't want to do it - just tell him

I am not so good at it

I have no knowledge for mosaic. OK - I think about it I'm just angry now and why can't you do something?

Oh

not tonight I mean ­

No of course, I think of you

I'm

52

I'll come tomorrow

OK

at your office

OK. Fine. Fine. hlH: . (Layal hangs up the phone.)

Shahryar!

I said yes rn rh c Jllosaic.

FI RST UNCLE PHONE CALL

A 1111 ;(( ; a/II,/" tiltS in; it is a man's voice on a telephone answer­ illg 1IIf1('f,illt·. IIi.r voice is loud and urgent. It is the American's 11111'1(' mllillp: Itrrfi-orn Baghdad.

Hallo Halln I Lill"

I am YOUl" IIIH Ie ( n!Jill!". from Baghdad.

We hav\,; (ri('" 10 "hnlle.: YOll since Tuesday.

We arc: V C I Y 1; \111 y

THE AMERICAN

- it's jWil It h hcautil"ul hroken English

he calls 1I1 (

daugh1.l'1

my ulId(' Ilc-li l lalll

trylll g

to I'cH.:h 111( '

for Ihl'(,(; d:IYs

thc.:y saw the dllst ;lnd the papers blowing evc.:rythillj!. thc.:y S:1W New York on Tv.

hi ,\ he :lrI \

53

He called to say he was sorry can you believe that? "Sorry for my great city hopes this never happens again ­ all the family worried sick about me."

And

LAYAL

1.lI/til /'li S/II'S to th e phone to answer it.

my mom's family in Michigan

Hallo! I !all()! S:lh:th? I-Il.Ibibti f My daughter!

they all called my parents in Michigan to see ifI was OK

Shlo nich?

 

I know they love me but

Aa, aa, fll1 e , lilll' we arc okay, okay,

they didn't call me personally

how are

YOII ?

and my Iraqi family are calling from halfway around the world calling New York

Aa, aa I

kllow

0111" pliOIH.:S rhey don't work for sure . (She laughs.)

they didn't stop until

I'm callill )!, 1(11'

IIII'n: wet:k but we couldn't get through

they heard my voice.

oh habi/)/i, III )' d:1I11',III(" ", I kiss you , I hold you, I miss you

I

mi ss YO II "'ii/jim

Our last conversation was before the bombs started in Baghdad

I miss yOll

 

I finally got through to my aunt

La -

d01l ' 1 ( "111(' 1I(1I11 l '

 

and I'm screaming into the phone,

not

this ,\ 111111111"

.

''I'm calling from New York" ­

Stay

take

SOll1e ,\ 111111\11'1

~1.11;~;t.:~ or,

why

no!

go Ii) Y ()1I1

. 111111 's hom e in London?

Aa?

SECOND UNCLE PHONE CALL

Again on voice-over.

La, fa ­

It ' s, g erri "1 ~ .\ ( III

it

the a ir - C()llll i l i oll i.,

"I

11(11

's gellill g V ('I ),

we are old

.dn.:.,d y :1IIc1 , eh

I'rok l' 11 e ve ll me, who can believe it?

1.1 , 11I()llI'ti

1I0W

Sabah , il

i~

I I

i ll

11l)1

101

YOII II) come home! (The fine is cut off)

Hallo Hallo Hallo

Sabah ? Il:dl,,(

we have tried to phone you since Tuesday

Hallo ?

We are very sorry to hear this terrible things happen.

Saball?

Our family worry about you ­

Sa bah' ( fl"/' IIIIi/I I'd,

I AJI(zl drops the phone.)

.~

54

55

THIRD UNCLE PHONE CALL

Again on voice-over:

Hallo Hallo We are very sorry to hear this terrible things happen Our family worry about you. We hope you are always we11 and wish you all the happiness. Again we are deeply deeply sorry and hope this wi11 never happen again. We love you very much. All the family does love you. We are waiting for you to visit us. You must come and visit us. It is very hard for us to come to you but you must come here and visit us. And you must bring your father and you must bring your mother and you must bring your brother. We are waiting for you ­ we miss you very much, all the family, your uncles and aunts with their children and we love you ­ we are waiting for you.

THE AMERICAN

''I'm calling from New York," I'm screaming into the phone, our last call before the bombs started and my Ama Rarnzia finally picks up the phone the first thing she says to me clear as English is ­

1

56

"Go to cillll'cil :tIlJ pray"

h er o nl y ()tlll'!

I love YOll

habibti. /'I, /,i /,/ ;

I love you

I love you

FIlJ',li sh is I love you

I

I

I

I

I

I

I

love

love

YO II

yo u

Y()ll

love Y(lIl

lo ve

love YOI I

love

lo ve

Y()II

YO ll

Behn :lIll

Rabah

Amm:11'

B

N

Lum:l

Fadhil:1

M n in

Zena

N adi :1

Zuha yi,

M Oll/I ".!,1

K aralll

Ras hid Mu rl]('r ZlIh i r;)

G ea lliH

Sib:t

Rcc illl

Rand

Jabel

R:lIll/ i1' )/,I

7.:\('1, i

Oh :li

ashs

h : 11

assa r

lt lw .dl

Ibid

Nbl',

.lac()l,

57

Muna

until d1l' y (lil I il L" phones off.

 

Huda

Nabil

And ­

Myriam

Salma

Adnan

Fadiya

LAYAL

Laith

Maysoon

Yousif

I

will

nev e l I,

I V('

Zaid

not

for rrcc.lllill Y OII do {l O r even have

Sa' ad

call

m l." wh : 1I Y"lI lik \" , look ar me how you will

Salaam

I

tell YOli

 

Basiel

so many WIIIII"11 11 : lv,'

Liollt: the

same a s me

Saati'a

everywh l' I~' 111<' )' II :l v\ ' In do rh t:

same.

Aamiera

If I did III(' ", IIII<' i ll ynll!' Ellgland or America

Milad

wouldll 'l lil (' )' "til IIII' ,I whor e rhere too?

Maesarra

Your WI'~I"I.II ,"hlill' , ~i'It'I',will nor free me

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you

I

I

I love you

I love you

I love you

I love you, I love you

on and on like that 5 minutes, 10 minutes

love you

love you

58

from bl'illJ ', ' ,111, ·.1 ,I wllllll' nor my "ex wonlcn :111" 111.1 III'" go honlc

you an: ,,,1.1 , ), '"1

go ba l.:k In Y"III

,11\ '

'j , d I' I\'

,I ';IV"

I

will dll

W klll ' VI ' 1

11 ('

. I',ks Ill' m c,

Bur lhi~

I do Ihi:, Ipi

III! ,

IIli ·, I ' , 1,,1 IlIC. (Suddenly genuinely amused.)

I

on rh l." 1111111

and

Bush

will

II I. ti l<'

I will

Ii"

"I

111"".111 " I' III1SII 's h} ce

Ii"

H,ldlid Iioid

)-',I1),,1i

,j1

W I'1I1 ' III

ror all rhe world to read

i"

(, · 11I1I11I . tI ,

Why 111.1 ,1 \VILII '" III<' Wor.~I?

Evcrynll"

will

w:tlk

w,tlllIlI l ', illill IIll' hord

,1<

"'' ,' ,

ilL',

f:l< c.

And I w i ll w,tll " , 1< ",~,': his f.1 l.: C. (Layal begins to destroy her art stu­ dio , S/I/' '/I/tI,/,, ' , /,1111/ '/)' tI/lt! 11I7ything she can find as she looks to make thl' /,i, ','," (:" tI'l ' II/II IIIi/ ,. III her growingfrenzy Layal begins to beat her

./fIn' II//t! d" ',I, )

59

And 200 more waiting in line · risking everything to take my place without my

And 200 more waiting in line ·

risking everything to take my place without my legs buried in the backyard they're making their own map of

me anyway - bomb

first bomb drilling bomb

all I want is to

sure after every

feel

it -

love

we were just a boy and a girl bodies were fused together ­ second bomb come inside exactly same Spot here - he made them prostitutes eight houses from here don't come homebomb all I want is to sure after every feel it - love I am not

I am not the Layal he loved

third bomb -

I don't want freedom Mullaya why are you here? so old you cannot see it

boil the people

in a void deserted fightill!', to k('('1' II allsparency my body IlIll 111'1' IHHly

herself illsitlt' III!'

why do Y(lIl Illok ,II liS as we have two hearts? we have oill y Ollr 11<.' :11'1

you

know 11\ I)(' 11 {' I

and

Baba oh /I,i/",

I have

I have livt'd 11110111',11 71)O() revolutions

all wiLli

i" 1,.(1

of" liS

100 1I11ldl (' Xi,\It'II t' I'

to the

thirsty, ;1.\ ,\lll l' d II will h~' Ihere

but you'll 1101 filid

bewan: III IIlItlwill l ', ,I ,\tol\( '

into rhe w <, 11 painrwitlt Ii ,.I 1I ·,.tl.lilil

always liglll III 11, " '1' Il.lmp ~ln:llcy

wdl ('11\' d,I Y YOII ' II return

,',pllllg, nor river

becau ,~e (lilt"

y tlll 1',11 ",1.\1

yaboo yaboo I'm fine I'm fine I'm (The fourth call to prayer is heard offin the distance.) la iLaha ifla allah la iLaha ifla allah la ilaha ifla affah yaboo yaboo I'm fine I'm fine I'm

I'm dead,

MULLAYA

The MulLaya continues Layal's pace and fractured language without pause, However, what was for Layal explosive and destructive, is for the Mullaya healing and effortless,

A silhouette of a woman vaporized from heat

60

betweell til(· :,111111' ,111<1 Ih e rivcr it gocs IlIlIdd y, ii'" IlItilldy I()rever

the m;II~IIL" ,III Willi' '',', if YOll dl illk \,V"li' l 11111 it's the .~I',I' t' y"ll 1' ·,lv,'

oj' Ihe well (,lIIpty ti·om the beginning

look around 1111,', wlllllt ' I'm a(I':lid III ' ,n ' 1111'111

whell tllI'y' I'· ",ltlWII

wild gIlTI

life did, 11I1t.", >III I"ot

hen' ill till', 1',1,1\11'

allfUY f.llildy I', 111'11'

, till )' ,lit' 1',llIwillf'

same

,1\

t

i

III

saml'

l'y' '' '

salli e 1I.IIIIIt' vcry 1.'1', Itc.II'1 we (' 01.1.1 11'1 Ii vr

alw ; I)'~ il i\ Ilk .llId death

logl'tllI.:r like this?

61

1

1.1

I,

,'1

and life and death -

(She steps into the river, raising water to her foce.

As she continues she becomes folly

immersed)

NANNA

carry it with you so when they cry so old you cannot see it try to reach me

I can't move

Nil II II ,! ((illl;lIlfl' ,' to gather the few props, which is indeed ('I 'I"I I' I I I/ Ili: -/11' IIIiIiJ flums, to sell on the street corner.

for three days hear my voice upside down

Hallo 11.t11"

 

broken English

Hallo I 1.t11"

collecting

you

lik l'

1<>

1111 )' :'

 

carrymg

Th ese

dllll ! ',',

V, ' I \ '

III( ",

vcr y old

house by house

from go"d LI",d\' we hav e 1"".1,, ,

 

I can't breathe

I cannot choose to leave

carper sho es.

throw our arms wide sing to my mother

HaJlo