Wednesday, 16 March 2011



They drained Iraq
The land of my memories
My lifetime before

Picnics at Khanassah
School trips to Babylon
Flights to Basrah
Narrow boats in Al-Hamaar
College trips to Habanyia
Hikes to Hilla
Forests in Mosul
The castle in Ukhaider

Our last drive home together
The planes
The bridges
The tears
Um Kalthoum singing “The Ruins”

It burned for years
I died a little every day

They broke down the walls
Crossed the bridge
Burned and looted

Another piece of me died

They changed the maps
The names
The faces
And covered the hair

And I died a little more

And now
Burning down my streets
Farooq and the yellow bus
Ice cream from the Albino’s
Abu Zuhair

Tearing apart my home
The Seville oranges
The pear tree
The nasturtiums
The bougainvillea

They unpicked my past one brick at a time
They deleted my life one memory at a time
They cancelled my future one dream at a time
Paying me back

My Iraq bled
My Baghdad bled
My Adhamiya is bleeding
I have no tears left to bleed

Don’t ask me to be reasonable
Don’t ask me to forgive
Don’t ask me to believe
Don’t ask me to hope

Modified from the original attack in June 06 before the doors were closed

The Image : Home, blossom to one side and bougainvillea to the other

Little Penguin said...
I try my best to empathise with your feeling of loss.. The pictures are beautiful and poignant..

I'm sure we'll be able to go back one day..

23 June 2007 13:46

3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
I realise that it is a small irrelevance in the midst of all that has and is being lost, but for me the pain is very focused, and this is for me the only way and place where I can vent it.
23 June 2007 20:09

Little Penguin said...
Allah Arham el Rahimeen.. My mother used to say "tingithee".. it surely will pass..
24 June 2007 05:17

Yasmin (Blanche) said...
3eerqai Medic,
that was So beautiful.. so touching.. so real..
the feeling of deep loss is what we all share.. today, we feel even more hopeless, more depressed..
i feel ev word u wrote..
Allah Kareem..
24 June 2007 07:07

3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
This also will pass you are right.

You know it is true, we have so much in relative terms, and yet it cannot replace what we had, the sense of loss remains, sorry to burden you with this.
24 June 2007 07:15

Yasmin (Blanche) said...
dear 3eeraqi Medic,
U Dont burden me, our hearts R indeed burdened and filled with sadness.. we stand helpless watching iraqna being slayed from ear to ear..
no new frm my cousin after events of yest in ADhameyya.. not even a msg..
take care..
24 June 2007 09:04

3eeraqimedic said...
Dear Yasmin
I hope you hear good news soon.
Take care
24 June 2007 10:17




This post has been cooking for a few days; reduced to the bare bones of simple description, then mixed with some latent venom and brought to boil, and finally left to rest with the crud on the surface solidifying in the cold.

To those who are genuinely interested in the lives of Iraqi women (and by that I probably mean women), in addition to the words of the well known Iraqi women bloggers from inside Iraq I would like you to consider reading three tenuously connected books.

I read the first many years ago, The Baghdad Diaries published in 1998, was a personal account of surviving the 1991 world versus Iraq war, from a rather narrow viewpoint of the ex-aristocracy living in suburban Baghdad, later updated to include the years of sanctions. I never read the updates.

The second I read more recently after a discussion on one of my previous posts, A Sky so Close by Betool Khudairy published in 1999, was a tour of Iraqi life in the seventies and eighties as experienced by the daughter of a mixed Iraqi-Scottish marriage living in Baghdad, this book broadened the scope of descriptions to include the lives of the many country women the author observed in her childhood days, the vivid accounts of the Iraq-Iran war as experienced in Baghdad were painfully real.

The third I have only just completed, Iraqi Women Untold Stories from 1948 to the Present by Nadje Sadig Al-Ali, published 2007, this is a piece of academic research written by a UK based senior lecturer in social anthropology, the daughter of an Iraqi, who although she never lived in Iraq visited her extended Iraqi family there several times over the years.

The tenuous connection is that the former two books are referred to in the latter (as is the mother of all female Iraqi bloggers Riverbend).

I want to spend more time talking through this last book.

The premise of the book is to chronicle the changes in the political, economic and social lives of Iraqi women over the years from the Wathba in 1948 to now.

It is based on interviews and meetings with about eighty Iraqi women, a cross section of women living inside and outside Iraq, ranging in age from teenagers to septuagenarians, varying from Peshmerga fighters, to ambassadors of the kingdom of Iraq, Dawa party members to at least one Ba’athi sympathizer (and now I know where she lives).

The book starts with a detailed account of the multiple waves of exodus of Iraqis from the nineteen forties until now, and describes how the occasionally very distinct and separate ex-Iraqi communities have developed in America, England, and Jordan.

The women’s stories are approached in a descriptive research manner, the words conveyed with brief explanation rather than analysis, and the gaps filled with historic detail from some one hundred and forty references, detailed in six sections: starting with Iraqis in the Diaspora, through living with the revolution, followed by living with the Ba’ath, living with wars on many front, living with the sanctions, and concludes with living with the occupation.

Baring in mind some recent interest in the subject of honor killings which are alluded to in several sections of the book, and the question of personal choice here are the thoughts of a 15-year old regarding the Hijab in the years of sanctions quoted in the book:
People have changed now because of the increasing economic and various other difficulties of life in Iraq. They have become very afraid of each other. I think because so many people have lost their jobs and businesses, they have a great deal of time to speak about other people’s lives, and they often interfere in each other’s affairs. I also think that because so many families are so poor now that they cannot afford buying more than the daily basic food, it becomes difficult for them to buy nice clothes and things, and therefore it is better to wear the hijab. Most people are somewhat pressured to change their lives in order to protect themselves from the gossip of other people-especially talk about family honour.

I strongly recommend Nadje Al-Ali’s Iraqi Women for depth, scope, and sheer detail and Betool Khudairy’s a Sky so close for those who prefer a taster with a little fantasy of a novel.

And now for my own views on the third book.

For me the fascinating parts were those relating to the times pre and post my lifetime in Iraq, the lives, relative freedoms and progress in terms of education, political involvement and choice of religious expression (or not) of women in the nineteen forties fifties and sixties, as compared to the hardships and loss of the most basic freedoms and rights during the later nineties and the chaos after 2003.

I was also intrigued by the details of the communities of ex-Iraqis living in America who were instrumental in bringing about the occupation of Iraq.

A group of women who arrived as refugees in the 1990s are described as:
It is evident that at least this group of recently arrived women had a very strong sense of their roots and identity, both as Iraqis and as Shi’is. Emphasis on the particular plight and suffering of Iraqi Shi’is involved a strong sense of entitlement in terms of rights and privileges in the new Iraq. It also entailed a very strong sectarianism that was directed not only at Sunni Iraqis but also at Iraqi Chaldean.

And elsewhere:
I was quite shocked by the extent of the sectarianism expressed by S and other sympathizers of Islamist Shi’I parties, like al-Dawa directed mainly at Sunnis but also at other religios and ethnic groups, such as Iraqi Chaldeans and Kurds.

The book gave me an insight into the complexity of what it is to be an “Iraqi woman” for so many different women, an enormous pride in the fortitude of women surviving through times of extreme difficulty, and a better understanding of the changes in society as a whole created by revolution, attempted emancipation of women, followed by a series of wars, sanctions and finally foreign occupation.

The author explains one of the goals of her work as:
I try to show how different women have experiences specific historical periods. And difference as is one of my central arguments in this book, is not necessarily defined in ethnic and religious terms-that is whether a woman is Shi’i, Sunni, Kurd or Christian, for example. It is important to emphasise that these are relatively new paradigms for classifying Iraqis. For until very recently, difference has been experienced largely in relation to social class, place of residence, urban or rural identity, professional background, political orientation and generation.

So far so good

However the book proceeds in my opinion to grant an academic stamp of support for the notion of “blame” for sufferings endured by the Shi’a and Kurds from the historical starting point of the book to date on the shoulders of the Sunni Arabs, and indirectly gives justification for all that has happened since 2003.

The author acknowledges very early in the book how it is possible to have several versions of one event that are all held to be true by those expressing them, recounting the three explanations for her aunt’s loss of sight at the age of eight, however throughout the book she quotes “facts” including an unreferenced fact that Sunni Arabs have accounted for 17% of the population of Iraq since 1932, without acknowledgment that these “facts” are contested by others.

There is an inability to detach opinion on the Ba’ath from opinion on events or achievement during its reign, so that for example the adult literacy campaign of 1978 is describes as:

It is obvious, however that the literacy campaign of the Ba’ath was not merely aimed at encouraging women’s labour-force participation; education was also perceived as a vehicle for indoctrination. The creation of the “new Iraqi woman” and “new Iraqi man” required re-socialization, which mainly took place in school, at university, in the media and in various workplaces. Adult education was one way to reach those men and women who moved outside state institutions and the main channels of indoctrination. Clearly it was much easier to reach out to and recruit women when they were part of the so-called public sphere and visible outside the confines of their homes.

I find it difficult to reconcile this negative, almost paranoid and very male sounding fear of women being educated outside the home with any concept of defending women’s rights.

And when a Kurdish woman’s description of returning to Erbil in 1975:
There were always Saddam’s soldiers and security people threatening everyone and making us feel insecure. The only positive thing during that period was that we were less poor. The government built better roads, schools and hospitals and there were more jobs. More girls started to go to school and even to university.

The author comments that:
The heavy investment in Kurdish infrastructure and economy was part of the regime’s overall strategy to develop and modernize the country and “buy” people’s loyalty.

The term “the most comprehensive sanctions in contemporary history” is repeated several times in the book with very detailed descriptions of the lives of those trying to survive them, and the devastating effects on social cohesion, but the ultimate blame for the absolute loss of all human rights even those previously gained by Iraqi women prior to and during the Ba’ath years is placed squarely at the feet of the Ba’ath itself.

The final conclusion is that the American lead occupation in its calls for liberation of Iraqi women has in fact been instrumental in the backlash against Iraqi women; no reference is made to the effects of the religious political parties that returned to power in Iraq alongside the soldiers of occupation.

I was left feeling that in the context of relatively isolated contact with one Iraqi family that felt itself singled out for ill treatment, and whilst living and working in a country still justifying its role in the ongoing destruction of your country this may be the only way such a book could be written, on the other hand with my rather different perspective, this was the only way I could read this book.

Little Penguin said...
It's refreshing to see this wave of work produced by Iraqi women, both home and elsewhere.. novels, blog-compilations, etc..

Im eager to read all three books you referred to and I most certainly will once i'm done with my exams..

With regards to the roles and positions of women in Iraq, it's obvious that women played a huge role in post-2003 Iraq, an even bigger role than they did before.. women constitute one third of the parliament, endless conferences and marginal events are held to highlight their plight and the means of improving the lives of Iraqi women.. that aspect is encouraging..

the 15 year old girl's account struck a chord with me.. back then they resorted to covering their bodies and abstained from wearing fancy clothes because they simply couldn't afford them.. today, they have to wear hijab because a thirty-something year old cleric made a decision on their behalf, and a considerable number of like-minded sheep just nodded in approval because of one reason or another.. It's criminal what's happening now..

13 June 2007 22:45

3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
I think you do need to read the final one if you think women are playing a bigger role now than before, I must admit I was not as aware of their role before, and let me quote one of the women interviewed from the book about the realities of women's roles post 2003
“…..but the Americans, especially sent people to Iraq whose attitude was: "We don’t do women", Bremer was one of them. Iraqi women managed to get a women’s quota despite the Americans, who apposed it. Their interpretation of women’s issues was to organise big meetings and conferences and to build modern women’s centres. What we need are more women in all aspects of governance. But the problem is that some of the women that are appointed are actually very conservative and are against women’s rights.”
And the authors' observations:
There has been a debate over the benefits and problems of stipulating a women’s quota, especially in light of the fact that many of the conservative Islamist political parties have obviously appointed conservative Islamist women who might not necessarily be interested in the promotion of women’ rights

Sorry to distract you from your exams! Good luck.
16 June 2007 21:57

Comment deleted
This post has been removed by the author.

17 June 2007 00:52
Little Penguin said...
that's a very good observation, though im not 100% agreeing, but it may well be the case..

It's true that most women who got to occupy senior political positions are of a conservative Islamic background, but that shouldn't stop them from advocating and working their wage's worth for the betterment of women's lives..

but that's all theory to be honest, I dont know what's happening on the ground.. what I know is that we need governmental and non-governmental agencies for the protection of women.. that's one of many many aspects which we have to address urgently should we claim that 'women's lives are improving'..

you're not distracting me from reivising, this stuff keeps me going.. names of studies and linguistic techniques is so monotonous, so dull, it actually sends me to sleep.. this stimulates the senses and gives me an unusual spur to write endlessly.. see? it's happening this very moment! :)

17 June 2007 00:54

Anonymous said...
Thanks for recommending the books. I shall endeavour to read them. When I was in London last year, I picked up a copy of "Baghdad Burning" by Riverbend.
I have also read "The Promise" written by an Iraqi woman escaping Saddam's Iraq who eventually migrated to Australia.
I have been following the war in Iraq very closely these past few years, on a daily basis. I am well aware of the suffering of Iraqi women and children.
18 June 2007 01:14

3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
You will note that I have been very careful to quote others and not put my own words here.
There is no reason why the Islamist women would not want the betterment of women it is in the exact definition of what betterment means that we (i.e. me and them) would disagree.
18 June 2007 19:46

3eeraqimedic said...
Thanks for visiting; I hope you do read the books.
I have not been able to find the book you mentioned. Do you have the name of the author or the publisher?
18 June 2007 19:49

I am so fortunate

MONDAY, 11 JUNE 2007

I am so fortunate

I started today feeling a little sorry for myself, and then two things happened

A phone call
The question I am almost afraid to ask
How is everyone?
“The children are distraught
They believe their parents have abandoned them”
One is with her aunt in Adhamyia
The other is with his grandmother in Erbil
Their parents are in transition
One in hiding in a neighbouring country
The other in a refugee camp waiting for an interview
Trying desperately to save them
By temporarily leaving them behind

A slide
Would you mind looking at this?
My young colleague asked
It is from an anaemic child
I adjusted the eyepiece
Scanning the blood film
Then turning the lenses
Homing down on one cell
That familiar uncomfortable feeling
I started to describe why to my companion
But one abnormal cell is not enough I reassured her
Then in the corner of my field of vision
Another leukaemic cell
No mistaking it now
I checked his details
And noted his date of birth
Two days older than my children
As I walked towards his room
I am a mother
About to tell another mother
The news that will change her life forever

I remind myself how incredibly fortunate I am

Little Penguin said...
you know, I was walking back home today and thinking to myself 'im gonna break.. this is it'.. reading your post, I think I ought to look at the bigger picture..

Despite the insurmountable hurdle I am facing, I, too, am incredibly fortunate..

Thank you for the reminder.
12 June 2007 12:34

3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
Whatever the hurdle, I hope you overcome it soon.
13 June 2007 22:24

Yasmin (Blanche) said...
dear 3eeraqi Medic,
i really admire the human feelings u pour into yr posts.. u seem to b such a sensitive person, regarding yr profession, u seem to suffer with each case u face..
v touching post..
im late in my comment i know, but i could not get to the internet fro a while ..
regards and best wishes..
15 June 2007 19:24

3eeraqimedic said...
I think you have hit the nail on the head, I am way too sensitive, and that is the problem.
Take care
22 June 2007 23:18

Something different


Something different

Hana Mal Allah . Warka Temple Wall I . Mixed media . 80x80cm . 2006

I don’t really believe in fate, but when Little penguin mentioned an art gallery in London showcasing Iraqi artists work I visited, enjoyed and bookmarked the site of the Aya Gallery.

Then out of the blue a relative who has recently taken up painting sent me an email about an art exhibition in London, at the same gallery, and when another relative herself an amateur painter asked about the exhibition, I decided to see for myself.

Like many of my gender I have a brain deficiency in the compass region, and despite a map we got lost and arrived 30 minutes late, the gallery was packed, and the presentation had already started, the spectators crowding around the staircase with the red zone piece in the centre of my field of vision.

The exhibition was a joint presentation of two Iraqi artists sharing the theme of Baghdad as a centre of civilisation and a city systematically and repeatedly destroyed, the two artists having distinct expressive techniques Hana Mal Allah’s mixed media pieces are large, stark visions of destruction with a predominance of red and burnt out black, flags death announcement banners and books.

Rashad Selim’s works portrayed the systematic destruction of infrastructure by pictorially exhibiting each of the many ministries of government using remnants found by the artist when he visited Baghdad in 2003, torn carpets, wooden fragments, and disfigured maps, the city’s pavements and ministries composed of layers of old calligraphy, maps, covered over with burnt artefacts and American military text.

Many of the pieces were powerful reminders of the complexity of Baghdad’ history, but for me the lasting image was a piece not mentioned in the introduction, or indeed in any of the visual adverts for the exhibition.

Hanging from the wall to one side, behind the staircase, on a silent wall, was a plain piece of wood, framed by curled dark green slivers, I initially did not recognise this piece titled the ministry of education until I looked closer, and realised it had one day been a blackboard. Sometimes simplicity is most effective.

Sophisticated Ways Destruction of an Ancient City
Exhibition continues untill the 6th September

Little Penguin said...
I was gonna go to it.. but domestic unrest ruined my plans.. I had been waiting for it for such a long time, bookmarked the date and saved up travel money and all!

I'm definitely gonna pay it a visit once I'm done with this family havoc and exams..

The eroding blackboard must've been a poignant dip into your memory..

07 June 2007 18:22

3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
I had sort of expected to "bump" into you there.
It is probably better to go when there are fewer people and you can stop and take in the details of the pieces specially my other two favourites the 7b3 3yoon.
There was something very very symbolic about the blackboard it even had some scribbles on the curled up coating, strange how some things really affect us.
Hope the havoc doesn't last too long.
And many thanks for starting the interest.
07 June 2007 19:31

The Fridays of my yesteryears


The Fridays of my yesteryears

Friday never arrived early enough, the end of the week, the break from school, the time to rest, have a lie in, have a late cooked breakfast, do the chores and then get ready to go out.

Friday was Beebee’s day.

When we lived miles away and both Beebees were alive it was a whole day’s worth of preparation and dining, visiting the two houses in one day, making sure to stay just long enough with one before moving on to the next, politely refusing the yummies offered by the first, so as not to spoil our appetite, then moving on to the second for the family get together.

Beebee NZ had a larger house, surrounded by fruit trees, with a tuckee tree in the back, and a vast front porch. She was an exquisitely good cook, and spent hours preparing the numerous dishes to be served in her dining room, I remember her sitting on her tiny little wooden stool, and digging fiercely in her pan to scrape out the perfectly formed circle of 7akaka. Her tiny kubba 7alab, and her roasted chickens, a delicacy you had to experience to appreciate.

Beebee NR had a smaller but beautifully positioned house, with a garden that stretched alongside the house in a slope, bordered by a concrete water turret and a motor that brought water up from the river.

In the back garden there was an old fig tree, it carried the dark reddish-purple soft sweet fruit every year, and provided climbing training for three generations of boys and girls.
She was not as passionate about cooking but had her well renowned specialties, her special pasta bake, her kataaif and her chocolate cakes.

On Friday the entire family would gather for lunch, or just a flying visit en route elsewhere, arriving in dribs and drabs from 12:00 noon to after 15:00, and depending on who was available the party would include at least ten, and more often in excess of thirty people, the get together occasionally joined by work colleagues and family friends, journalists, artists and archeologists.

While we waited listening to all manner of discussions and reminiscing I would nibble on the paper thin sheets of regag bread piled up high in the dining room, or sneak a sugar coated almond sweet from the little porcelain dish in the visitor’s room.

We would be shooed out to help fan the menqala from where the delicious aroma of cooking kebabs would emanate. Once cooked on one side they would be very carefully turned over and ultimately gingerly moved along the skewer to land on the bed of bread and be carefully covered by another sheet of bread, with mounds of parsley freshly cut from the garden on either side.

The meal would sometimes and particularly in Ramadan start with soup, followed by the variety of main meals, including the yellow turmeric flavored rice, a vegetable and meat stew in tomato sauce, and occasionally some boiled rather stringy loobya green beans, the meal was completed with a salad, and bread, and followed by a sweet or other my favorite was always poor man’s Baklava.

Very full, and after the ritual clear out, the food all transferred into smaller pots and pans, or bowls for the fridge or as Abu Jassim would put it “reduced”.
The dishes would be washed and carefully dried and returned to their places, and soon it would be four o’clock.

Moving into the sitting room, to station ourselves in front of the TV in time for the afternoon film, if it was good we would all settle down to watch, if not we would go out into the garden, scurrying around, or in my case pace up and down alongside the house under the qamaryia memorizing a verse of poetry or another page of the national education text that were the bane of my student life.

Within a few minutes it would be time for the coffee, black Turkish style with just a hint of sugar, I watched the tiny cups being served for years, and then finally I was old enough to try a sip, then a little more, and eventually my own cup of the bittersweet thick rich sauce like coffee, I can almost smell it now.

Once finished the cups would be turned over and left to settle for a while, the patterns in the bases that held the secrets of our future would be read by my Beebee who took it all very seriously, and who would occasionally get very upset if it looked like bad news, or occasionally by her niece who treated the whole thing like an enormous joke, her readings always included monsters, and the occasional dark handsome man!
For many years everyone of a certain age looked into their coffee cups and wishfully saw planes.

Silence would fall, the television flickering in the corner, concentration lagging, eyelids dropping, and as we counted how many of the adults had drifted off an aunt’s loud snore would jolt them all awake and us into fits of giggling.

At six it would be cartoon time, and then time to head home, to get ready for another day, another week.

I did not always enjoy my Fridays, I often wished we could do something else, go somewhere else, now I wish I could have just one Friday like we used to have.

The picture is a scene from my grandmother's garden, taken sometime in the 1970s. The amateurish modifications are to hide the people in the original photo.

Yasmin (Blanche) said...
helo 3eeraqi medic,
nice memories..
Subhan Allah , yr Beebee's house reminded me of Our house.. the front garden, the design..
a glimpse of the beautiful calm memories of the past..
04 June 2007 09:55

3eeraqimedic said...
I am so glad you liked this, it was inspired some time ago by your post, which I read last thing at work, and your final line about the house / road not being there anymore made be burst into tears at work! It has taken me some time and my pictures to be able to complete it.
It is odd that when I see the houses in the UK I have always thought how ugly they are all identical, our houses are unique and yet I guess they are also all similar in some ways.
04 June 2007 19:56

Little Penguin said...
Your photoshop skills are not to be underestimated ;) I wouldn't have noticed that there had been a modification had you not pointed it out..

il muhim,

I didn't see a great deal of houses during my very short stay in Iraq.. everytime I went to visit a relative I knew that his/her house was going to be something new to me.. the grey gate, the neatly nurtured garden and the sitting rooms.. oh my god.. I fell in love with every single sitting room I saw, well not every single one but the vast majority..

Dr, you describe food so well.. I've just had Indian beryani and yet your intricate detailing of the oil-drenched sheets of bread that sandwiched the kabab made me drool! :)

Allah Ylim il shemil inshallah..

07 June 2007 00:41

3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
Sorry so late! must have been daydreaming!
I know what you mean about the غرفة الخطار
As for the food, I have a life long love hate relationship with food! and spend exactly half my life dieting without success!
11 June 2007 22:13

saminkie said...
Wow 3eeraqimedic that was bittrly wonderful when you talk about those fridays....yeah...when I was a child...i could know from the sunny day that it is friday...from the sounds of birds...and from the smell of my mother's cooking...and father's relaxed tones of voice...sometimes he used to wistle when he woke up late in morning and start to shave slowly...thank for that picture too...
19 July 2007 10:44

3eeraqimedic said...
So sorry I missed this comment
Fridays hold very special memories, a family day we took for granted, simple, relaxed together.
Thanks for visiting again.
25 July 2007 19:27

Treasure trove

MONDAY, 28 MAY 2007

Treasure trove

For the past two days I have been smiling a lot
Simple things please simple minds
Thanks to a diligent sister who packed them neatly into a box,
Thank to a dear friend who took the risk of entering the war zone that is our area to retrieve them,
Thanks to friends and family who moved them,
I yesterday received a box of old photos and postcards
I know the quality is poor, I know they are of an era when it was “clever” to paint in colour to black and white images, but
I have been smiling just going through them, and maybe they will make others smile to
I am working on some of the photos and will be posting some here as well.

karim said...
رائعة ...خصوصا بهذة الالوان

شكرا ...لساعي البريد
28 May 2007 15:28

3eeraqimedic said...
Glad you liked them, you reminded me of all the letters to and from Baghdad with that little remark written on the back of the envelope!
29 May 2007 06:45

Yasmin (Blanche) said...
3eeraiq medic, how niiiice..
thank u thank u for this happy surprise..
the old quality of the postcards made them even more precious..cause they r frm our happy past days..
afya aaashat eedech..
pls post us some more fotos if u have any..
29 May 2007 13:14

3eeraqimedic said...
I love your streeeched words!
Glad you enjoyed, I am trying to think of topics to go with some photos and then will publish.
30 May 2007 21:08




Distant and different
A drop in the ocean

I have changed since you came
I have been liberated

Liberated from civility
And all its constraints

Liberated from politeness
And all its lies

Liberated from reality
And all its simulation

Liberated from illusions
And all the delusions

Liberated from adulthood
And all its aloofness

Liberated from conservatism
And all its restrictions

Liberated from my past
And all its beauty

Liberated from my memories
And all their conations

Liberated from my future
And all its potential

Liberated from my plans
And all their frustrations

Liberated from belief
And all its peace

Liberated from fear
And all its exhilaration

Liberated from dreams
And all their fruition

Liberated from hope
And all its expectation

When you came
Something deep inside me died

And in its place
The growth
So simple
So primitive
So pure


In the death of my country
You have given me
My ultimate liberation


Yasmin (Blanche) said...
How sad.. very thoughtful indeed..
yr post touched my heart..
do we still have hope?
28 May 2007 07:23

3eeraqimedic said...
Sorry to be miserable again!
I am not sure what the answer to your question is, they say where there is life there is hope, where there is a will there is a way, but we will never be the same, and we will never regain what we lost.
In another generation or the one after them who knows?
28 May 2007 15:10

The dark side of the force


The dark side of the force

There are positives and negatives to being part of a medical family, on the plus side, you are likely to be diagnosed with whatever early, told to see your doctor soon when something is required, and told in no uncertain terms to stop being silly when there is not.

You are likely to be seen by specialists quicker because they are friends of whoever the medical person is, and likely to have access to investigations occasionally unnecessarily because no-one wants to be sued by the medical relative of a misdiagnosed patient.

On the other hand a little knowledge is indeed a bad thing, and in a medical family the worst case scenario is always what comes to mind, the viral infection with a rash is always meningitis, the headache always a brain tumour, and the stomach pain always an obstruction somewhere.

One further very dark aspect of this knowledge is that when we discuss people we dislike instead of just wishing them bad luck, we elaborate wishing upon them all manner of hideous painful disfiguring deaths.

“So it is lung cancer then?”

“Well let’s hope it is not early stage resectable then”*

“Even better let us hope it is of the small cell type, but widespread, tiny chance of improvement with chemotherapy, which must be offered, but will ultimately fail”**.

*Carries an 80% chance of being alive after 5 years
**Carries a 0% chance of being alive more than one year

Little Penguin said...

I dont know what to say.. I kind of pin-pointed who it is you were wishing the worst possible death.. maybe..

During the past 10 years, there has been one person whom I have wished every possible pain.. sometimes I think 'Allah ysami7ha' and sometimes I think 'I cant wait till I see the day she burns before the world's eyes'.. During the past two weeks, my sentiments have become more intense than ever.. I have never felt such zeal to see someone humiliated, tortured, lynched, burnt, buried with excrament.. I have developed a sense of immunity from humanity, I will never find it in my heart to forgive her for what she has inclicted on us.. I will never get enough of seeing her suffer.

What's my diagnosis, Dr?


25 May 2007 20:29
3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
My initial diagnosis is that you too have been “liberated”.
I am surprised and saddened that this hatred I so recognise (but am not necessarily proud of) should be a part of someone like you.
I am also intrigued to know what she did to make you feel this way?

26 May 2007 09:40
Little Penguin said...
she's emotionally scarred me and so many other people for life.. may she ROT in hell.. I'm waiting eagerly to see her punished, she'll be a lesson for everyone who thinks actions are unaccounted for.. Allah is watching and recording..

26 May 2007 20:05
3eeraqimedic said...
Little Penguin
I haven't a clue what the story is about, but ultimately it is hurting you.
I sense your belief and faith, and so you must know that all actions must be accounted for if not now than later.
If you truly believe that you must try and release these sentiments, use them as a driving force for something good, maybe in helping others, or in preventing similar harm being caused to others, justice may take a long time to arrive, and you are very young, over time pent up hate will just burn your insides.
Take care of yourself
26 May 2007 22:39




As part of my internship or rotation in the late 1980s I spent three months in the department of paediatrics, despite everything, I enjoyed the job, paediatrics was not my favourite subject, and the job was the busiest I had done so far, with seventy-two hour non-stop work being the norm.

The doctor’s room was located in the middle of the ward and had started life as a broom cupboard with no window, and no fan.
For weeks and between on calls I would lie in my bed of sweat trying unsuccessfully to rest between knocks on the door by nurses, orderlies, and even frantic mothers with sick babies.

What made the job so great were the staff, here were the best group of nurses I had ever worked with, the consultants were on the whole dedicated, and their juniors put their whole lives into the job. I ultimately was so influenced by the team on the paediatric oncology ward that I changed my career path and did something similar in adult medicine.

One doctor in particular had a different and lasting influence on me.

He was one half of a pair that seemed inseparable; originally from outside of Baghdad they teamed up, and rotated together.

In his second year of the training rotation, he was small but stocky, with a deeply furrowed face, and thick curly hair.

In charge of the emergency room with me as his junior dogsbody, and covering the neurology ward when I rotated there we would occasionally chat over the notes trolley as we did our rounds.

I remember three separate lines of conversation

The first was a question

Put very bluntly and at the time unexpectedly

“Are you a Sunni or Shia?”

There is no difference I replied

Then you must be Shia he replied no Sunni would ever say there was no difference.

His second was a piece of advice

When you take a history from a Kurdish child with leukaemia he said, do not accept the first address they give you, always ask where the family lived before the child was born, or when the child was younger, let me know once you see the pattern.

His third was a gift

A book he lent me, an eye opening experience, written by the Egyptian author Dr Nawal Al-Saadawi. A gift that immediately made him “the enemy” in the eyes of many of my male relatives.

If I could meet him now

I would not need to ask him his first question.

I would tell him the answer to the second.

I would thank him for the last.


saminkie said...
uClever story....laden by symbols and simple words that lead you to a complex ideas and memories....
Hope you keep writing...I enjoy reading your blog...
And I have enjoyed this story especially...

08 July 2007 11:31
3eeraqimedic said...
Welcome to my blog, I am glad you liked this post, he was a complex person, and talking to him opened my eyes to a lot of things.
I wonder where he is now?
09 July 2007 07:48

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Lets call the whole thing off version 7

SUNDAY, 6 MAY 2007

This is an intentionally lighthearted post.

I will start with saying the concept is unashamedly plagiarized from comments of two great users of Iraqi-speak Yasmin of Noomeeheloo and Karim of دربونة (every astute researcher will keep their results secret until accepted for publication, but on this occasion I will happily delete this post if it upsets them).

It is heavily influenced by Little Penguin of Iraqi Signor, and The AEIraqi.

And finally I must not forget the many conversations with two confused four year olds who are taught correct Arabic at school and hear gobbledygook at home.

I have put together these lines just imagining one morning’s activity so I am sure there will be many more, this is a joint venture so please feel free to remind me of any more you can think off.
Lines with a * are additions from Little Penguin those with ** from AEIraqi, ^ from Yasmin, ^^ from Karim, “ from Marshmallow 26, “” from Hassounكندا and finally ~ from Babylonian Jew many thanks to you all

Try and sing it to the tune of the song

You all know the words

You say either and I say eyether,
You say neither and I say nyther;
Either, eyether, neether, nyther,
Let's call the whole thing off!
You like potato and I like potahto,
You like tomato and I like tomahto;
Potato, potahto, tomato, tomahto

You say سریر and I say جربايا
*You say غطاء and I say شرشف
*You say شباك and I say جامة
You sayستار and I say بردة
You say بساط and I say زولية
You say أبريق and I say قوري
You say فنجان and I say أستكان
*You say صحن and I say ماعون
You say شوكة and I say جطل
You say ملعقة and I say خاشوكة
You say كرسي and I say سكملي
You say أريكة and I say قنفة
You say طاولة and I say ميز
^^You say مروحة and I say بنكة
You say خزانة and I say كنتور
You say أطار and I say جرجوبة
*You say ضوءand I say كلوب
You say منشفة and I say خاولي
You say فطور and I say ريوك
*You say رز and I say تمن
^^You say مثلجاتand I say دوندرمة
**You say مكياج and I say زواكة
You say ثوب and I say نفنوف
*You say كم and I say ردن
*You say مفك and I say درنفيس
*You say مفك and I say درنفيس
*You say دولاب and I say جرخ
^^You say علبة and I say قوطية
You say حذاء and I say قندرة
You say غطاء and I say قبغ
You say جيد and I say خوش
You say طبل and I say دنبك
You say أنف and I say خشم
You say أنظر and I say باوع
You say ذنبand I say صوج
^^You say غنيand I say زنكين
^^You say حمى and I say صخونة
^ You say قطة and I say بزونة
*You say يجنن and I say يخبل
*You say اسكت and I say إنجب
^You say ضیوف and I say خطار
“You say جاهل and I say زعطوط
”” You say امي and I say يمه
”” You say بطيخ and I say ركي
”” You say يوجد and I say اكو
”” You say ما الحال؟ and I say شدعوى؟
~ You say ما الحال؟ and I say شلونك؟

Lets call the whole thing off!!

An alternative finale would be

*You say وطن and I say عراق
Hassoun كندا said...
You say ابي and I say يبا
You say امي and I say يمه
You say بطيخ and I say ركي
You say al-jubnu and I say jibin
You say يجد and I say اكو
You say ما الحال؟ and I say شدعوى؟
I love my language, no matter how many other Arab nationalities think that "timmen" is funny. I first thought "ruz" was funny, so it's one back at them.
07 May 2007 00:52
3eeraqimedic said...
Welcome to my "new" blog.
Thanks for the additions which I have encorporated into version 6.
07 May 2007 22:30
babylonian jew said...
you say 'kalb' I say 'chaleb'
you say 'ma alhal' I say 'shlonek'
13 May 2007 13:02
3eeraqimedic said...
Babylonian Jew
Welcome to my blog
I am thinking of moving this post to the top of my blog it seems to be the one post everyone likes most!
As the idea is unique words we Iraqis tend to use rather than the rather coarse wasy we have of pronouncing words, I have not included your chaleb, bu شلونك deserves a place in the 7th version!
13 May 2007 21:54
Kurdish Engineer said...
You say وطن and I say عراق

This is the phrase which made me cry and cry, and I am inside Iraq (Erbil), I am thinking of you while you are writing this phrase and you are thousands of kilometers away from a paradise called IRAQ.

I also want to thank you for visiting my web blog, you asked for informations about the photos those I publish, sorry for the unavailability of the information on my blog site as I have no time even to upload the photos, not adding informations as well, but my loyalty to my great country forces me to try to do something whatever was small as my blog site and the photos in it, may be someone see them and come back to his conscious and leave killing aside.
22 May 2007 08:49
3eeraqimedic said...
Kurdish Engineer
I am saddened that this, my most light-hearted of posts could make anyone cry, but the final line was in fact suggested by a young Iraqi who has never lived in Iraq, that is what Iraq is to all of us wherever we live.
Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question and for visiting.
I wish you well in your endeavour, please stay safe.
22 May 2007 22:19
Kurdish Engineer said...
Dear Sister

I am so so grateful to you for your always writing me "please stay safe", these are the real iraqis.

هذولة احنا العراقيين
ئه وه ئيمه عيراقيين

Also I want to invite you to visit my other blog site,

Best Regards
11 June 2007 07:41
3eeraqimedic said...
Dear Kurdish Engineer
I had seen the "other" blog, but made no comment it seemed very personal, and in same places heartbreaking.
I am embarrised to say that despite studying Kurdish for a while in school I cannot remember any and could not understand the banners in your recent post, so thak you for writing in both Arbic and Kurdish here.
And once more stay safe
11 June 2007 22:17
Kurdish Engineer said...
Hi Sister


I would like to let you know that the logo or the picture that you put beside your profile is great, I like such arts. you look to have a very good idea about art drawings.

Good bye and Take care.
24 June 2007 19:17
3eeraqimedic said...
Kurdish Engineer
Thanks for the kind comments.
It is actually a drawing by my 4 year old son, a gift to me (to cheer me up) which I loved and has become my logo.
take care


25 June 2007 18:09

Years have passed
I still feel the same

How could she?
Why would she?

Her mother’s fault
Living amongst us for so long
She even spoke like us
She learnt the curses
And used them

Years living there
A privileged life
A free education

She came to live here
Settled in nicely I heard
A sob story to the papers
I guess that was the start

Living with her boyfriend I heard
Volunteered for the job
Depends on how you see it

Living within the walls I heard
Getting a nice tan I heard
With a new boyfriend
Sleeping with the enemy

And now that the job is done
Traveling the world I hear
Bought a new house I believe

She was not ignorant
She had not known need
She was never oppressed
I find no excuse for her

She tarred us all with her greed
She shamed us with her actions

Her boyfriend is seriously ill I hear
It has started I hope
Her ill-gotten gains
Will scorch her hands
And scar her life
She will pay them back


شلشل عليه الرمان...
النومي فزعلي...
هذا الحلو ما اريده...
ودوني لاهلي...
جم دوب اظل ملهوف...
واكعد بدربه...
لا مر عليه وفات...
ولا انكسرقلبه...
يا يمه لا تنظرين ...
بطلي النطارة...
ما جوز انا من هواي ...
وماكو كل جاره...
ما طول شال الزين ...
شيلو يا اهلنه ...
وماجابلين الدار ...
شنهو شغلنه

When we were young pomegranates were tricky, the skins hard to peel, the centre separated into zillions of small pouches surrounded by bitter pith, the edible droplet like seeds fragile and liable to soil our hands and clothes, never entirely sure whether to swallow or spit out the white centers, would they like the watermelon seeds block our appendix?

The fruit was so much easier to consume as a juice, either the delicate pink version preferred by the elders, or the cooled thick sweet variety consumed rapidly at the roadside by the sherbet shop across the square from the school.

And now it is good for the heart apparently (and thus worth more money), and of course with walnuts it makes a mean Middle Eastern sweet and sour dish with chicken, but here I digress

The pomegranate tree has engulfed me goes the song
The lemons came to my rescue
I do not want either
Take me back to my people

How long must I wait excitedly
Sitting in his route
He did not pay me a visit
His heart did not break

Mother do not wait
I will not leave my loved one
There is no alternative
So long as the good ones have left
Our people will leave too

Waiting aimlessly
In front of the house

The song is from Baghdadi folklore, sung by Ilham Al Madfai the story behind this apparently relates to the “1914 – 1918 world war” period, during the Othman (“the pomegranates”) occupation of the middle east, the British (“the lemons “) came to the rescue, in the end neither was welcome *.

Maybe the song should be
The orange and the pistachio trees have engulfed me
I do not want either
I just want my people


Mary and Paradise two women, one end, one city

She was a good friend of my mother
They had been through tough times together
They helped each other out
She had tried so hard
He could not stay with her
So she went back to him
She had been low
Tears shared over the phone
They spoke just the day before
I cannot go back she said
And in the end she didn’t

She died
It was sudden
She was buried
In Amman

We had only known her briefly
Then she returned to “sort things out”
She couldn’t live there
He couldn’t live here
She called to say
She was coming back
Wait for me she said
And we did
She never came
The calls unanswered
The messages unreturned
Two months would pass
Without a word
And then a message

She had died
It was sudden
She was buried
In Amman

They left behind
Stunned and

They left behind
With no answers

Amman is a dangerous place
For a woman
Even when she is with her man

Instant recognition

SUNDAY, 6 MAY 2007

My mother is very fair skinned, and my only brother has inherited her complexion.

In may 2003 when he went home he had been away for over ten years, he had gained weight, and lost his accent. He visited family and friends, and wandered down the streets talking to random people.
Wherever he went people would pick him out from a crowd, you have lived away for a long time, but you are recognizably Iraqi they would say.
It may have been his goatee, or his rather militaristic haircut, or maybe the way he walks, but I think not.

As I wander through the streets of this cosmopolitan city, amidst the swarms of people from all over the world, displaced from their homes by need, nature, or other men’s greed.
I often pick them out, the individual or the family, the scarved and the unscarved, brown hair or dyed blonde, in suits or leather jackets, the children chattering in playground English.

It always seems to be eyes that give them away, and when our eyes meet for an instant there is a flicker before we both move on, and in that flicker I know that they have also instantly recognized me.




The year was 1979, the place Al-Aqida high school, the event entry to secondary school.

The team were five of us, inseparable at school, meeting after at each others homes, myself, Aseel, Sahar, Hala and Arian. I cannot remember how we became a team, but somewhere (in a box, in a room, in a house now occupied by strangers in Baghdad) there are photos of us having fun, pulling faces, joking and laughing during the break in our school uniform the white shirts grubby round the edges, the navy pinafores adorned with whatever took our fancy.

We met at Aseel’s for her birthday, dressed in 50s style shirts and ties, we met as Sahar and went walking with her brother, we made fun of each other and all the teachers, Arian had less flexibility in the mockery as the daughter of the English teacher Miss Nasreen, her behaviour was regularly reported back at the teachers room, a large area at the top of a short flight of stairs to the right of the entry corridor to the school grounds where she would occasionally be recalled to be scolded.

One memory I hold of Arian was her response at the age of 14 or 15 to the teacher who was intimidating the entire class into joining the Arab Baath Socialist Party, she would ask each girl in turn to rise before the class, and ask her “do you believe in the ideology of the ABSP?” “Why then will you not join?”, many were too scared to say no, others made the excuse of needing parental consent, the one and only girl from the class of about 35 to argue her cause was Arian, it is called the Arab BSP, she said and I am a Kurd, and for that reason I will not join. It is difficult to explain just how brave one had to be to utter such words.

We more or less went our own ways at the end of secondary school, I went to medical school, Sahar did engineering, Aseel did business studies at University but I continued to see her because she lived nearby, and her mother worked at the medical school, Hala dropped out, and Arian went on to study business studies at a polytechnic in Baghdad, studies were hectic and life more so and we drifted apart somewhat.

We all met up once more when we were invited to her wedding, a brilliant day, they were so clearly happy, and we had a final girly chat as we touched up our makeup just before she took up her centre stage seat.

I saw Arian once more, we met at my grandmother’s house, we chatted about married life, about still being a student when all my friends were sorting out their lives, and as the medic in the group I was asked about family planning!

I never saw any of the group again.

For years after I left I would get brief messages, mum had bumped into Aseel somewhere, Hala had had a baby, everyone sends their regards.

And then Baghdad fell, as the hell that is today became visible on the horizon, the family started to escape.

Many months would go by, with frantic planning, and desperate organisations, and then one day when things had calmed down, and we started to reminisce, I mentioned my friends.

M’s face told me before her words that something terrible had happened, you don’t know what happened to Arian she asked, no what I asked, totally oblivious to what was about to be said………….
She was killed………..
She was with her mother……….
In a car explosion………
In Baghdad…………
It was in the early days……………..
I cannot remember the exact date.

I am not sure why I am writing this now.

Maybe the memento placed on someone else’s blog to friends killed a couple of months ago has crystallised my need to think about this.

Maybe because it is just not right that all the Arians of our world can be condensed into simple numbers on a daily death toll.

Maybe because although we had lost contact for so long, although we had led such separate lives for so long, I still remember that we shared a magical time together, six glorious years, full of fun, laughter, and innocence.

And because no one deserves what happened to all the Arians in our world.

Arian and Sit Nasreen may you rest in peace.

Aseel Sahar and Hala just ordinary Iraqis, what has become of us all.

Updated 08/06/2007
I now have a picture, Arian is holding her spectacles.
I have been thinking about why I so needed to post it and I have concluded that there is a small part of me that still hopes someone will see it and go oh no I just met her yesterday she is fine.
The handwritten text on the back reads
أهدي لك هذه ألصورة لتبقى ذكرى لاحلى صداقه في حياتي

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Almost retrieved

For the upteenth time I deleted this blog
In the false belief that my saved word document meant my diary of mumblings was safe
And is was sort of
Until my unbacked up laptop was stolen (along with the car and the phone)
And with a sinking heart I realised that this was also lost
The latest backup was in 2008
So here is all I have left