Monday, November 8, 2010

Death Notes by Mahdi Salah al Hashemi

Today, I was taken by a tiding. Mrs. Muslimah has died after losing her battle with cancer. I heard the news and paused for a while to adjust to the news, to process it. I couldn’t do it. My mind was obtuse, doltish, and blank. What is happening to the mores of right and wrong? What is happening to the mental processing of facts? Does Iraq live in the time where the inevitable has become strange, even odd? I began to reminisce of my days of existential questioning, of self-conflict, attempting to discover a path by which I could enter a society I could not understand or grasp. Now there is a new society, a new language, new habits, new concepts, new life, and more to inhale.

Standing on the sidewalk, aloof and floundering, as the faces of the passers-by surrounded me, a sound called out. I turned to find a kind face and beautiful smile, which then uttered: ‘Why are you distracted and frightened?! You are so Blessed to try something that others can only dream to attempt. Do not think about the past, for you will only find regret.’ It was the face of a foreigner woman, whom I did not know. We had no connection except that of acquaintance. As the days went on, we stayed in touch. Every time I had a hard time,  she would refer to my family. If I was sad, she would always lift me up. I never saw her without a smile, and she was like a friend, a sister, a mother to me…there are not enough words to describe it.

Death is certainty. Everyone must eventually, inevitably die! I don’t know, but have the death scales been altered? If you lose someone you love in an explosion, a suicide bombing, a blast, or by the bullet, would it be easier to wrestle the pain if it was a terminal illness? Memories don’t rule death.

Hundreds are dying, and the question is why. Was it so we could change our ways back at home and to be sound asleep. It became a habit, a routine. Every day you hear someone dear to you is dead. It echoes and echoes in your ears and it is gone before you finish the call!! Is this the paved road of the beginning of the end? Or is it that the end is closer, more resembles the beginning?!?!

Welcoming phrases become questions, and you can count a thousand in one gaze. When will the moaning and suffering settle? Where does the longing and illusion live? We have had enough of today, so we do not wish for tomorrow. Tomorrow is a mirage in the desert, a desert that eats everything without clemency. A desert called my Homeland.


Mahdi Salah al Hashemi currently lives in Iraq, and please make du'a for him and his family.

Edited by Isma'il ibn Bilal

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