Sunday, 13 March 2011



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

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