REPOST from Monday, November 17, 2003
I looked far and wide this morning for something substantial about Iraq, but there was nothing. Then I came at last to Fayrouz.
I can't find anything more to say about the current barbarities. Its in one's mind the whole time but there is just nothing more to say, except to remember Lt. Caley returned to his jeweller's shop after 2 years in prison...
All I can do is to put Fayrouz's quote together with mine. This is what I remember and Farouz
tells me in his quote from a book he has read of what was actually happening a few miles away from me as I lay back under the bedclothes for a little while longer, my parents fast asleep downstairs, blissfully unaware that their life had suddenly changed: their short, happy, idyll in Iraq soon over...
14 July 1958
Picture, if you can, a small, freckle faced, innocent nine year old boy, - whose greatest crime to that date had been minor pyromania with boxes of matches - sleeping peacefully through a warm Iraqi summer night nearly fifty years ago, on a metal- framed bed, under a white sheet, on the flat roof of a Californian- style house in the eastern suburbs of Baghdad, suddenly woken at dawn to distance sounds.
See him pushing away the sheet, get out of bed, lean on the parapet, look toward the sounds, seeing the gathering light at the skyline and wonder for a moment what he was hearing. Then, quite quickly - despite his young age and lack of knowledge of the world - no t.v., videos, just the occasional cowboy film at the cinema - he realises, though never having heard such sounds before in real life, that these sounds were of guns. Real guns.
This small English boy is aurally witnessing the beginnings of a new era in Iraq which will lead, that day - though he could not possibly imagine such horror despite being viscerally aware of some sort of threat or danger - to the murder of the young King, Faisal II, and many of his immediate family, and the dragging through the streets of the body of Nuri es Said, the Prime Minister, the rumours say.
Then, later in the morning, his father returning home, to fill in the details of what was going on: the company mini-bus had reach a point, as it went through the centre of Baghdad, when it didn't look safe and the decision had been made to turn back.
Imagine, in the succeeding weeks, a strict day and night curfew, with soldiers patrolling the streets and, eventually, a drive to Baghdad Airport and a flight out of the country which he and his parents had so loved to live in; back to a dismal, cold, rainy Heathrow in the days when departure lounge was a few low rise white painted buildings.
Five short, magical years in the life of a very young child, that would mark him for life, ending because of mere sounds; sounds that he would never hear again; sounds of violence and fear and hope.
That roof and those sounds, which seemed at the time to be privy to me, are a talisman of my time in Iraq. The date is, of course something I learnt of later; but which I will never forget. I only have to think 14 July 1958 to bring all the memories back. And do you remember most and best from where you were happiest? I certainly am not able to recall as much from the years that followed at boarding school, where I spent eight years.
Friday, April 30, 2004
From "Mayada, The Daughter Of Iraq."
"The family (Mayada's family) was in Europe when they heard that General Abdul Karim Qasim, an army officer, had ordered a number of soldiers to surround the royal palace. Over loudspeakers, they ordered the family to step outside. It was only 7:45 in the morning, but soon afterward, the kitchen door at the back of the palace opened and the royals began to spill out. The officers shouted for the family to step toward the little garden at the side of the palace and stand next to huge mulberry tree. The royal family lined up, along with the servants. The very young king, confused, kept saluting the officers.
A captain by the name of Al-Obousi shot at the king, splitting his skull open. Everyone else then opened fire. After the massacre, the bodies of the family were dragged to a van, and a crowd began to loot the palace.
As the van passed through the palace gate, a man at the gate jumped into the van and stabbed all the dead bodies. The van was then stopped by a military jeep, whose soldiers took the bodies of the young king and the regent. Crowds had begun to gather, and to pacify the angry mob, the driver threw them the body of Faisal's regent, which was promptly stripped naked, dragged across Baghdad and hung from one of the balconies at the Al-Karhk Hotel. The crowd then cut off the hands, arms, feet, legs and genitals, ripped off his mouth, then dragged what remained of the body to the Ministry of Defense and hung it there. A young man from the crowd then took a dagger and ripped open his belly and several men in the crowd draped the regent's intestines around their necks, like necklaces, and danced in the streets. Finally, someone took the regent's body, splashed it with gasoline and set it on fire. The remains were thrown to in the river."