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Heather Raffo's

9 PARTS OF DESIRE
WINNER OF A2005 SUSAN SMlTH BlACKBURN PRIZE SPEOAL COMMENDATION
AND LuOllE LoRTEL A WARD 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 work 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 . .. in this
rem.zrkable om-womarJ show, (Heather Raffo's) writing . . . is marked with wit find by
a scrupulom atte1ltioll ro the details ofcharacter. " -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
"... pflum/ilL/#. impassioned, vivid, memorable ... 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
"The.fimale halfo/frnq has come to America . ., -Gloria Steinem
, -'
EATHER RAFFO'S
PARTS
SIRE
ISBN 0-8222-2097-0
90000>
I.) rt/\ tvl j\'Tl ~ ~ 1 'S
PI .AY S.I' I{YICF
.1JL ,,170 INC.
DRAMATISTS PLAY SERVICE, INC.
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9 PARTS OF DESIRE
Copyrighr 2002, 2006, rka,hcr Ibn,) A372
{-ILl]
All Righrs Reserved
;2, vo';;' 6
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Inquiries concerning all orher righrs should be addressed ro Willi am Morris Agency, LLC. 1325
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SPECIAL NOTE
Anyone receiving permission ro produce 9 PARTS OF DESIRE is required ro give credir ro the
Aurhor as sole and exclusive Aurhor of rhe Play on rhe ride page of all programs distribured in con
nection wi,h perFormances of rhe Play and in all instances in which rhe ririe of rhe Play appears For
purposes of adverrising. publ ici zing or otherwise expl oi ring rhe Pl ay andl or a produerion rhereoF,
The name of rhe Aurhor musr appear on a separate lille, in whjch no orher name appears. immedi
arely above rhe tide and in size of' rype equal to 50
0
/0 of (he size of rhe largesr, most prominenr ler
rcr used for r h ~ riri e of rhe Play, No person, firm or emiry may receivc credit larger or morc promi
nenr rhan ,har accorded the Author. The billing musr appear as follows:
Heather RaFFo's
9 PARTS OF DESIRE
The following acknowledgmenrs must appear on the ririe page in all programs disrributed in con
necrion with performances of rhe Pl ay in sizc of rype no smaller rhan 10 poinr:
Originally produced for rhe New York Srage by
Manhanan Ensemble.:: Theater, Dave Fishdson, Arri stic DircC(or.
Originally produced by Erich Jungwirrh. Voice Chair Producrions;
Richard Jordan. Richard Jordan Producrions, Lrd.
All characrers appearing in rhis work are fictitious.
Special rhanks ro Geraldine Brooks For the inspirarion
of her book Nine Parts ofDd ire.
In addition, rhe followjng musr appear in rhe rear of all programs where producti on s[aff and spe
cial rhanks appear:
Brirish premiere. Traverse Theane. Edinburgh.
London premiere, Bush Theane. Sheppardsbush. London.
SPECIAL NOTE ON SONGS AND RECORDINGS
For performances of copyrighted songs. arrangemencs or recordings mcnrionnl ;'1 .I,i" 1
1
1.1 \ '1 tl .. I" "mis
sion of the copyright owner(s) must be obtained. Orher songs. arr:lIlgl'llh'1l1'" 0\ 1. ' 1 I I I I I I I W ~ III.I V 1)(' sub
stirmed provided pt:rmission from rhe cop}/righr ownl: r(:;) of SlId, ." lIl p; " , 111 .111 1:' III ' III j ' 1 \. , 'lIilillgS is
obrained; or songs. arra.ngements or recordings in rhl: puhlil' tI , IIl I, .ill IILI , I" H(. 111 11 1, ,I
9 PARTS OF DESIRE was first developed with VoiceChair
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.
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 ofThe Public Theatre's
New Work Now festival of readings, opening in May 2004. It was
directed by Kate Saxon. It was performed by Heather Raffo.
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
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AUTHOR'S NOTE
9 Parts ofDesire was inspired by a lik-chall gillg 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. Baghdad 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
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"God created sexual desire in ten pares; then he gave
nine parts to women and one to men."
- Ali ibn Abu Taleb, husband of Jvluhr.{mmad's
daughter Fatima and fourth callj)h ofthe 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 of5hi 'a pilgrimage
9 PARTS OF DESIRE
Throughout the play the woman uses an abaya, a traditionaL
Iraqi blacle robe-Like garment; to movelom character to char
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
The first sound 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 course ofthis 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.
TraditionaLly a MuLlaya is a hired woman who Leads caLL and
response with women mourning at funeraLs. She is considered
very good ifshe can bring the women 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 why I come.
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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

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.
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II
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 money.
I don't know
maybe I feel guilty
all 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 only 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
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 get it back.
It's IlOt oil, with oil you just paint over what you've done
Wilh oil, light it's the last thing you 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 telling 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 body. (GiggLing again.)
I did a pai nting once of a woman
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 and beat her brutally, like is his way
she went back to campus and
her roommate saw the bruises and things and asked her,
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"what happened?"
And she so stupid, innocent gi rl told her the truth.
Why she talks such things?
Iraqis they know not to open thei r mouth
not even for the dentise.
Of course Uday, he took her back
with his friends, they
st ripped her
covered her in honey
and watched his Dobermans eat her.
See in my painting she is the branch's blossom
leaning over the barking dogs
they can not reach
no matter how hungry they are
not unless they learn to cl imb her
but they are dogs, they never wil l.
You see, nobody knows the painting i:; her
but I believe somewhere she sees.
That is me, (Laughing.) my philosophy'
These stories are living inside of me
each woman I meet her or I hear about her
and I cannot separate myself from them
I am so compassionate to them, so attached - la, fa,
it's the opposite
maybe I am separate, so separate from the women here
I am always crying to be part of them.
I feel I could have been anybody if I looked different.
Some other arti sts more senior than myself
would have hoped to be curator of Saddam Art Center
these jobs they are hard to come by and
it takes a lot ro get them.
Always they make a rumor of me
that I gO[ this position because I was having an affair
at that time they said
with Saddam's cousin
they can believe what they like
I don't care what people 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 would that have made my life any easier?
Isn't everything in this country a matter of survival?
I don't care if you are with the government
or a prisoner of it.
I':vt.: n loving
jll st rht.: simple act of loving
... :1 11 rnake you suffer so deeply.
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 ohsessed by it
I,y tll t.:st.: things that we all are but we are not saying.
"Either I shall die" - how does it go?
( )11 my favorite, Shaharazad! (An aching giggle.) "Eimer I shall die
or I ~ h a l i l i v e a ransom for all the virgi n daughters of Muslims and
til t: cause of their deliverance from his hands to life!"
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 compare only be compassionate.
1 try to have understanding of all sides, and I have compassion
just not enough.
I'm a good artist.
15
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 if I love this man or not.
I think you see with your heart like a Bedouin.
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?
ill
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 - 9 brothers and 5 sisters
:tlld nobody make me feel fat.
11111 1learn now I am big
, () don't you think I am fat?
I II . It!, I :till very big
III II I :t III di <: 1 now and my childrens toO
1,,1111 t1H,:y :In: diet.
1.1, ti ll I Ilave 2 childrens
III .lIld H.
M)' It IIshand, first husband, he was Saudi,
I I ~ ' 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 time
.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
17
III
II'
I I I ~
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
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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.
I mother one of her childs
I fed her son - oh Koran, you must know it
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.
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.
A lid 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
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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 you 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?
20
\ 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 seed in me that change him?
\ :,,"(" IIOW \ ;tm fat.
N IIW \ look 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
. 111( I II<.: v\.:r have I Jove a man this much.
1'\1(' 11 \ love him.
I","l' l\.
My ("X- husband, first one, got us passports
III Itl'illg the children to London
'.11 d(('y will see their father on the weekends
,111(1 It ,IV!' rheir schooling there
/", /11, I t1link I told you this already.
\'.111 .t1W:I)'S I am thinking
wll,lI it \ IIlil into 5a'ad when I go there?
\ wllllid 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.)
1want to be like you
21
this is the most free moment of my 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 memorize what you say,
so I can be this way
freedom again.
But what do think he means, I am not the And he
HUDA
A whiskey drinker with over fifty years f fuda is
an Iraqi exile in her seventies now ill 1.lIm/on. She has
a keen sense ofhumor.
Well exile in London for the intellectuals
is mostly scotch, of course politics, and poetry
it used to be Gauloises toO but I have given up smoking
Anyway. I tell you 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
world is in their hands.
Personally, I have my 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 is desperate to keep her
hands clean. Exhausted, she clings to the forensic.
I'm sorry,
it's probably just the smell of the sewage backing up in the ward.
23
\'
WII
;'
i,l
I
I
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
the bombings during the GulfWar, but I can see something changed
in the environment - giant squash, huge tomatoes. They say the
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 husband says death is worse, il-mawt yihrig il-galub, death
1'11111" Ihe heart. But I don't believe-
rV\II"\ or Ollr men are 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
l'ld, ' ,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
"II 11.1 i ll<''' i II Ik West, I could have gone anywhere, I came back,
\' ,11 kllll"" wll: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?
\V, Ii til' "li(, 1 illll'llf.
I ! ,,,I, .,1 II',
\,11 ,1 ,'I II ',
'.! J'I/ II/,ll,. / 1) (/)'11 Allah? (She is nauseous again.)
1'\11 IIII<', I'm fine
I ", I' I'! ',II ;1111.
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. 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 copyright page,
25
I
.1
I I
1/1 I
! I I have not been to school
since America came
I '1 "You are stupid" she say, "you don't need to go to school."
I
1
' [ But I think she didn't like the soldiers carnes to our school
they looked like N5YNC, mostly Justin Timberlake,
I
'II
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.
III
'\ So I never leave the house.
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.
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
IIIIW we can't go anywheres without
",\' IlllCle, Ammu Abdul
h, (ol11es here with his sons, mostly Karem and Khalid
I'l' , .IUSC 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.
W. dOIl'1 go anywhere
" .dl v"!
1\ I"""n., sill' even go to work anymore
,.1" \V .," "1"1 on. "
\ 11' ", ' V' " the house
, . f ' I" ,,, !'," III lite market
wid, "'\' 1111\ Ie
11,,1 IIt I. II (' goes she covers her hair
.1" ", ,dl.,id of getting stolen by gangs
,'"IV ilwy sical women for money
"' '" ,,,,II them.
I II Y 'I) ,ell Momma she won't get stolen
1",1..111' is Ilot that nice
d" \' tI"l y sleal people whose families have money.
1\ I! , "lit' ,.:l YS.
,1",,', " ' '''Ili' your fates,
'" ,w d'l'Y girls 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" (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,IY they showed
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? - that is always how we tease
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
I
but ro see it like that he looked like an old man
I
like a baby.
I felt sorry for him
I ill
'II
, I but I didn't cry.
')
Momma she cried
II
she said, "Saddam stole my sons"
"he stole my sons" _
II
I had three brothers who were bigger
il l
I didn't really know them, they were martyrs
'I!
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 father's notebooks upstairs
1" , IiIlP, under the floor
I" 11.1(1 sOllie math books up there and some notebooks
I 111,,1, Ollt: .
I 1.... 1. 10 it' ro keep my head busy even though the maths are for
I" 1'1,1, Iliggcr than me.
1,,1 I , ;111 understand some of the maths
,1\ III I II( I:i )'
I I' .1.1 ill Ilis lIolcbook
111.11 " S .IIIII1I1I .. ;, ,"
tll llI I'. IIIL' ii's Jatcd Ocrober 5, 2002,
1111111111 .1 Ill y 1H'lovcd was at school
1Ii,I II,, 'y ,,,ked Itn,
' 111 \" '''II' V\' I Babylon?'
:\ 11,1 .',.1111111111 .1. sill' rold them, 'Of course I've been,
'. \ ' . !" II 1111',111 Iwc;lllse
'It ' Iltll' I "IV.'..SaJJam put his name on the bricks of Babylon
1'''1 II' ' .1111101 pllt his name on the stars over Iraq.'
I I., \' will .lIresr me now for this and I am sure to die.
I (aught her how to lie."
I I' "" mens came ro our house
I .. 1,01, , Ill y 1;,t1lcr - they said
1\ rI' /'"hrt is So smart about the stars over Babylon our president,
i,. II, ,.Is hilll.
I I, IV" 1101 sccn him since I was 7.
1"111111:1 "Iought after the war with America
I.. 111I1',1t1 come home
11111 1I0hody seen him
\I .. 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.
/\, Ilially
I , 'rid today too
wl!l'll l saw Papa Saddam on TVs
1,1'( he srole my father so
I tll()light he was bigger than anyone
1,," he didn't even fight to death.
29
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 andpride, 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.
IIII!
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?
Will' Y"ll make me alive?
1'11 .11 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 Ihis wall- and here - are me
w,dl from the world
\\ 11<1. ,,"I,' 10 ;\Jlliriyya shelter to look
\\ 11 II I' .llI y I.. IPlll1I hne
11"1 wl,," !lI' 'Y Il.1<1 ill papers
.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' <:e iling, you can see
, 1'111' ,11""lllprints and footprints
I,. >111 I 'I'll "I, who lay in the top bunks.
\,"1 111'11' :1 silhouette of a woman
\ 'I" '11Inl li 'om heat.
II" .. 111I1',c room became an oven,
11111 pressed to the walls to escape from the flames.
III !I ... 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
j
i /I ill il
j
11111
: 1/
I '
, I
I'
II
, I
I!
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 prayer offin the distance; she
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.
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 paintbrush and returns to her painting.
W' ["II I111 W"
\\ 1"'11
11
", :'
\\ I, " "",,, i
\,.. L 1\ "" 1. 1_1) _1Yt
II " i , 1, ",1,1111 ;1111 I.vilh a sign
1I 1i " ' Ii . : 11 ,'[1 \' illl W:tlll,
Ifn ' ,or ,1. " ' 1",>'
Vj ; , j , I" '!lil ," " wi lll,ay the bill.
-'I! \ ""11" 111.111, :1 II.; Cnager,
l iP 1\111 111
h"l 'l')' il,, ' r, l ,( , meal,
I" , II, . .111.1 ,',11." alld eats
\ I" " I" , I ' . ,1"ll c c;uing all he wants
tI" \\ 111, ' 1 1" ill gs him a bill.
11 11 \'1111111',111:111 says to the waiter,
r \11111 says free 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' grandfather'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
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 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,
I 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
or they can control it - but I cannot control myself
I cannot keep my mind from flesh.
I 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.
So I had an affair! (She laughs.)
34
I 1' 1 "1),.'.('lf love him -
Wi W, \( ' iI I ~ 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' , Vl"1 Y Itl(',\sy
" .. I wll"lt Ill y 11I\.\ hand found out
I.. ,, 1... 1 "II ' ,
I 11'"")',1,1 I \V,", d(';ld .
1\,,,1 1 Vi' " '" tI", ('I\\('I I.\CI\(.. Yroom I was saying
II II II ' ''' P'i rill
\' .tI, tI" 1',IIl1 , II \V, ' " ,\1(', il was an accident.
, ~ , 111 \ ! I '. , 11.1(1 ..1 II till it
J'ill Ii. " I \1 ' ',1111'1" '" "II' Irol1l having an affair again!
I JlII,,1
", " " \\ "11' (' 11 tI..-y 11111 ,"1 I ) ~ ' so hungry
I", " '" tI., )/ IlIv( ' wilh slICh a sacrifice
'" " I""I',
1'"1 I "II )'"11,
\" 1,, II \'""'11 tI,is w,ly
, . ,,1.\1 111"1 1
11 1\' 1\ '" l"vlIll\ like you will die without something
" "" I. 'v.' I.lt(, :111 Iraqi woman! (Laughing.) Shaharazad!
I II. A""' l i( ,IllS rhey have this passion to save everything
It., lil',\ till'}' have such a big footprint, they feel guilty,
II .. I' , 11\' ,I very handsome teenager
,.. ",tI-' ,I"" sirong
1"",'''"11,11 e. selfish, charming
1'111 tI H'y don't think.
\ "" II.IVl'
i'"1 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
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 same, all, anywhere you live
if you love like an Iraqi woman
if you love like you cannot breathe.
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 their bare hands
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
bombs
he can recognize the street
and the nei ghborhoods
where all hi s fami ly
lives
sti ll.
I watch ' IV
looking f()r
faces
of our fami ly
so all T do is cry.
But my clad hc can't
so
he lip choking and making himself
sick
I mean
he's lived ht: rc in rhe U.S.
for 40 yt:;m
he plays golf
5 times a wnk.
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

CNN
I wanl' 1 () 'pr:ty
but T dOll't have

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 the hOll se the same,
his picwre, everyrhing.
I was inviled ro go back, so many people I was working with have
re[lirned bur
I have moved ') 1iI\1CS in my life - always fleeing
Baghdad, l .eh:1l1on, Istanbul, Baghdad again,
anyway.
America o{'krcd me lots of money to go back
but I don'! beli eve ill [his , some Iraqis they are just selling
themsel ves .
I said let the }' Ollll g ones living there have a chance with the policies
but they an; lOll ali'aid (0 speal( up
they are shcll-slwckcd, all these girls
after the Gull' War, rhey go backwards
they abandoll their education and now,
now they an.: w(." aring the veils.
Their gr,lIldllwrltcrs arc more liberated than them.
I am in a pcrio,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 lhing I fear 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 was no segregation sort of thing
these people, they have been living together in this area for
thousa 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
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.
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 Sad dam 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
the Golden Mosque - Samarra.
We are fighting for who they will trUSt
I don't beli eve anymore in revolution, ya 'ni, the concept
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.
Saddam is gOlle.
NANNA
Nil""" i.l' 1111 oLd. old wornan, scrappy and shrewed, she has
scct! i/ i!ll. .'1'11(' is .I('/Iing anything she can on the street corner.
.<';iJ(' 11'("111 )' til(' tlbflya traditional01 over her head so only her
f ila i (W! Iii/lids remain showing. We hear the third call to
jlrrt)li"l' (dri" the distance.
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 saw the looting
these are not Iraqis
Iraqis are not so degraded as this
but maybe
some people
took
bricks
from
palaces
only.
There were too many anyway.
I heard a marines saying,
"Go in Ali Baba - go in
take what is yours."
Aa, they wanted us to have
everything!
It's freedom to have!
Chal chal 'alayya!
I have too much existence
I have lived through 23 revolutions
my life has been spared
if my life has been spared
to whom do I owe my debt?
I have so much to repay.
To whom do lowe my debt?
I.
(She spots another customer.)
Hallo Hallo you like to buy?
We have very old, very special old
OK, OK, (She chooses to confide in her original customer but only at
a whisper.)
I saw
Iraqi peoples
bringing petrol,
shhh
and
burning
all
42
National Archives,
Koranic Library
a11
it was not accident
I saw a map
they knew what to take
they were told what to take
and nobody scopped them
and they
burned them gone.
Our hiscory is finished.
Sunni, Shi ' a, Kurd,
Christian even, .lew
If they take what. we share,
it is easier
to finish.
It's revenge
no
God's revengt.:
upon us
because we Jitln'l
we were [csled and
we didn'[
finish
get rid o(
Saddam
ourselvc:>
we
deserve
maybe
we were
silenc
our history is
When 1 was young in the school
they bad lIS ("() draw
our Lmily I ree
my morher had a new dress
it's wirh ruffle and flowers
thar I loved
43
II
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 move on
but JUSt one trauma we say
OK
this can change you
possibly
your psychology, for the rest of your life
OK.
But there's no one saying
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 ~ a i d
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
Bashshar
Nassar
Luma
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
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 sick
my stom;lch
I can't get out of my
it's a beauriful warm day
and I'm a cave.
I can't walk down the street
and see people smiling
dragging bodies through the street
for the rcsr or Illy life
Iraqis arc allimals cheering, dragging bodies through the street.
But my 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 chellli c:11 li ght, rold to masturbate.
I canm)[ Cll'l' y it
and the/n;
thumbs-up
smiling
don't tell I1l e
they didn't kllow
their joh
not wirh . ~ l l I i l i l l g
every photo
they wen.:
smiling.
How G ill I ever
go horne agaill
and sit
in my Im/ ma:" kitchen
and say
I'm sorr y
I'm sorry
47
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?
Why?
LAYAL
Why are you here?
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
48
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 gel (Hll' for my safety.
Why? Whal is s:ifc? There is no safe.
I wish I Wl; rC :d'raid
I am hl.:)' o'HI :d'raid
I am jllSl I ' \ l l l l l i l l l ~ ' rllnning
straighr inlo it
always lil ' tili ,\ J :l lil running
since rit e lhy (11 )' hli shalll] shot me
because I sll(lltld ]l.lve been dead
but I wasn'l
So what ;\111 I ~
Why am I :tl ivl'?
To be 111 :ld(' luv( ' 10 passed around from one man to another
his cOllsill, Ili ,\ hlntil",", the ministers of-
and now
I am aW:lrl' tll.ll I mliSI die,
I am C< lIl1pli li l. Where el se can I go with my hate?
Who will Pl'Ol lTI IIl C hur the regime?
Always I 11111 10 I helll, I come crying, begging, take care of me
they 1)('('(1 111 l' In do it, oh they love me to run to them crying
so rlll' )' ( ':In 11:lv c JIll',
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 :llll til<'ir 1;llll1lain
I haw h C(,(1 raped and raped and raped and raped
and I W :1111 more
they S( ' ( ' lIIl' , they recognize me for what I am
49
that is freedom
they will never kill me
HUDA
- 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 - it was a Friday.
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
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.
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
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?
Anyway, nightmare.
When we got out of jail we made passports, fake passports
and we fled across the 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
self another 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
;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 - something - like it's in my house
and I can't make it through another one.
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 rhc 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: VCI Y 1;\111 y
THE AMERICAN
- it's jWil It h hcautil"ul hroken English
he calls 1I1 ( hi,\ he:lrI \
daugh1.l' 1
my ulId(' Ilc-li llalll
trylll g
to I'cH.:h 111( '
for Ihl'(,(; d:IYs
thc.:y saw the dll st ;lnd the papers blowing
evc.:rythillj!. thc.:y S:1W New York on Tv.
53
:lll'
He called to say
he was sorry
III: can you believe that?
"Sorry for my great city
hopes this never happens again
all the family
worried sick about me."
And
my mom's family in Michigan
they all called my parents in Michigan to see ifI was OK
I know they love me but
they didn't call me personally
and my Iraqi family are calling from halfway around the world
calling New York
they didn't stop until
they heard my voice.
Our last conversation
was before the bombs started in Baghdad
I finally got through to my aunt
and I'm screaming into the phone,
''I'm calling from New York"
SECOND UNCLE PHONE CALL
Again on voice-over.
Hallo Hallo Hallo
we have tried to phone you since Tuesday
We are very sorry to hear this terrible things happen.

Our family worry about you

54
LAYAL
1.lI/til /'li S/II'S to the phone to answer it.
Hallo! I !all()! S:lh:th? I-Il.I bibti
f
My daughter!
Shlonich?
Aa, aa, fll1 e , lilll' we arc okay, okay,
how are YOII ?
Aa, aa I kllow 0111" pliOIH.:S rhey don't work for sure. (She laughs.)
I'm callill )!, 1(11' IIII'n: wet:k but we couldn't get through
oh habi/)/i, III )' d:1I11',III(" ", I kiss you, I hold you, I miss you
I miss YOII "'ii/jim
I miss yOll
La - d01l ' 1 ( "111(' 1I(1I11l '
not this ,\ 111111111" .
Stay
take SOll1e ,\ 111111\11'1 or,
why no! go Ii) Y()1I1 . 111111 's home in London? Aa?
La, fa
It's, gerri .\( III "I
it's gellill g V('I ), 11(11 .dn.:.,dy : 1IIc1 , eh
the air-C()llll ilioll i., I'rokl' 11
we are old 1.1 , 11I()llI'ti 1I0W evell me, who can believe it?
Sabah, il I I i ll 11l)1 101 YOII II) come home! (The fine is cut off)
Sabah? Il:dl,, (
Hallo?
Saball?
Sabah' ( fl"/' IIIIi/I I'd, IAJI(zl drops the phone.)
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
56
"Go to cillll'cil :tIlJ pray"
her onl y ()tlll'! FIlJ',lish is I love you
I love YOll
habibti. /'I, /,i/,/;
I love you
I love you
I love YOII
I love you
I love Y()ll
I love Y(lIl
I love YOI I
I love YO ll
I love Y()II
Behn:lIll
Rabah
Amm:11'
Bashs h:11
Nassa r
Lum:l
Fadhil :1
Mn in
Zena
Nadi :1
Zuhayi,
MOll/I ".!,1
K aralll
Ras hid
Mu rl]( 'r
ZlIhi r;)
Gea lliH
Sib:t
Rccilll
Rand
Jabel
R:lIll/ i1' )/ ,I
7.:\('1, i
Oh:li
ltlw.dl
Ibid
Nbl',
.lac()l,
1
57
Muna
Huda
Nabil
Myriam
Salma
Adnan
Fadiya
Laith
Maysoon
Yousif
Zaid
Sa' ad
Salaam
Basiel
Saati'a
Aamiera
Milad
Maesarra
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 love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you, I love you
on and on like that
5 minutes, 10 minutes
58
until d1l' y (lil I il L" phones off.
And
LAYAL
I will nevel I, .. I V('
not for rrcc.lllill YOII do {l O r even have
call ml." wh:1I Y"lI lik\" , look ar me how you will
I tell YOli
so many WIIIII"11 11 :lv,' Liollt: the same as me
111<' )' II :l v\ ' In do rh t: same.
If I did III(' ", IIII<' i ll ynll!' Ellgland or America
wouldll'l lil (')' "til IIII' ,I whore rhere too?
Your ,"hlill' , will nor free me
from bl'illJ ', ' ,111, .1 ,I wllllll'
nor my "ex
wonlcn : 111" 111.1 III '"
go honlc
you an: ,,,1.1, ), '"1 ,11\ ' ,I ';IV"
go bal.: k In Y"III 'j , dI ' I \'
I will dll W klll ' VI ' 1 11 (' .I',ks Ill' mc,
Bur
I do Ihi:, Ipi III! , IIli , I' , 1,,1 IlIC. (Suddenly genuinely amused.)
I will II I. ti l<' Ii" 111"".111 " I' III1SII's h}ce
on rh l." 1111111 "I Ii" H,ldlid Iioid
and I will WI'1I1 ' III )-',I1),,1i ..,j1 ror all rhe world to read
Bush i" (, 11I1I11I . tI ,
Why 111.1 ,1 \VILII '" III<'
Evcrynll" w,tlllIlI
l
', illill IIll' hord
will w:tlk ,1< "'' ,' , ilL', f:l< c.
And I will w,tll" , 1< his f.1l.: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 legs
buried in the backyard
they're making their own map of
me anyway - sure after every
bomb
first bomb drilling bomb
all I want is to 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 home
I am not the Layal he loved
third bomb - boil the people
I don't want freedom
Mullaya why are you here?
so old you cannot see it
yaboo yaboo
I'm fine I'm fine I'm (Thefourth call to prayer is heardoffin the distance.)
la iLaha ifla allah
la iLaha ifla allah
la ilaha ifla affah
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
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 all wiLli i" 1,.(1 of" liS
Baba oh /I,i/",
I have 100 1I11ldl (' Xi,\It'II t' I'
I have livt'd 11110111',11 71)O() revolutions
to the wdl ('11\' d,I YYOII'II return
thirsty, ;1.\ ,\lll l' d II will Ihere
but you'll 1101 filid ,',pllllg, nor river
bewan: III IIlItlwill
l
', ,I ,\tol\('
into rhe w<, 11
painrwitlt Ii ,.I 1I ,.tl.lilil
always liglll III 11,"'1'
(lilt" ytlll 1',11 ",1.\1
betweell til( :,111111 ' ,111<1 Ihe rivcr
it gocs IlIlIdd y, ii'" IlItilldy I()rever
the ,III Willi' '' ,',
if YOll dl illk \,V"li ' l 11111 oj' Ihe well
it's the t' y"ll 1' ,lv,' (,lIIpty tiom the beginning
look
around 1111,', wlllllt '
I'm a(I':lid III ',n' 1111'111
whell tllI'y' I' ",ltlWII
wild gIlTI ... , till )' ,lit' 1',llIwillf'
life did, 11I1t.", >III I"ot
hen' ill till', 1',1,1\11'
allfUY f.llildy I', 111'11 '
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 logl'tllI.: r like this?
il i\ Ilk .llId death
61
and life and death - (She steps into the river, raising water to herfoce.
As she continues she becomes folly immersed)
carry it with you
so when they cry
so old you cannot see it
try to reach me
for three days
hear my voice
upside down
broken English
collecting
carrymg
house by house
I can't move
I can't breathe
I cannot choose to leave
1,'1
throw our arms wide
sing to my mother
1.1 I am home again
I,
oblivion even
I don't care
I submit completely
late in the evening
late in the evening
I come to collect worn souls from the river
because
I love you
I love you
I love you
I love you
I fear it here
and I love it here
I cannot stop what I am here
either I shall die
or I shall live a ransom for all the daughters
of Savagery.
She called it Savagery
when you love like you cannot breathe. (We hear the fifth and final
call to prayer. Darkness, it is the end ofthe days cycle.)
62
NANNA
Nil II II ,! ((illl;lIlfl',' to gather the few props, which is indeed
('I 'I"I I' II I/ Ili: -/11' IIIiIiJ flums, to sell on the street corner.
Hallo 11.t11"
Hallo I 1.t11"
you lik l' 1<> 1111 )' :'
These dllll ! ',', V, ' I \' III( ", vcry old
from go"d LI",d\'
we have 1"".1,, ,
carper
shoes.
HaJlo 11.t11"
you likl' d, i \ I','; 1111 1) 1'.0' ( M lli"" I'Nlches for Layals painting.)
It is very WIlI,I.
she c; t11 i l : ", v"I',"I :'
famol I S , II I I'll
her 1);11111 '
Layal
You n" ") ',I' II! " , Li
I was 111 ' 1 111' 1)',1.1"11
I knnv II' I / '."", I
bomh I. ,"11'1 111.11 ' "
la, i l l, :Ij'.. IIII , ,lIllId I 11(11111., IH'I" sister house,
she ,k,1I1
her 1111,,1 . 11111 .I,;l i!
her d,III)',!.I, I I.l i l"i ,
All , rl rf, 1',' 1 Y '"I' I
so il i:, 11, 1111 )' W ill ill
1l10\(' IVII I II.
S I H ' i" 111.11 I YI , ,.I I "I II:,
all , III \' 1'1( ",111, '111 III' I I ~ c d 10 love her, he praise her
II!' pili 1" ' 1 " . 11111 i ll)', ill
63
If the play is produced with a multi-actor cast, I still encourage the
doubling of roles - ro cast for instance three women rather than
nine. When we see an actress transform from one Iraqi woman to
another, we are better reminded of the complexities of nationality
and the universality of all women. Layal, Huda and the American
have always been at the core of the play's dialogue with the other
characters playing supporting roles. I therefore encourage separate
,\11 casting for Layal, Huda and the American, with the remaining
voices divided at the direcror's discretion.
In development with direcror Joanna Settle for its New York pre
I;
miere, the play grew ro include the prologue by the Mullaya and
focused less on Layal and her art studio as the play's home. The stage
came ro represent various levels of Iraqi society from the ancient to
the modern: crumbling tiles, layers of mosaic, bricks, books, carpets
and sandbags. At the center of the production was a river, a reminder
of Iraq's heritage as the cradle of civilization. The river was both
mythic and functional, a symbol of a life-giving source and of the
underworld. Layal's paint brushes came out of the river; Huda's
books and newspapers lined the river; they became Nanna's looted
books and newspapers. Every single item onstage was part of every
character's life. Nothing was left without multiple purpose. Ifbuild
ing a river is not an option, the use of water somewhere, whether it
be from a bowl or another vessel, would still allude to this imagery
and symbolize its central function connecting all of the women.
Similarly, the abaya works as a unifying prop rather than a costume
piece. The actresses use of the abaya to transform from character to
character is key. It broadens and challenges the audiences under
standing of the image. The abaya is a traditional black robe-like
garment that has long been worn by both women and men in Iraq.
It is not a veil, and it never covers the face. The abaya's origin is
functional and offers possible freedoms and/or oppressions to those
who wear it. In the West, it has now become a symbol of all Iraqi
women. However, many women in Iraq have never worn it. I
would therefore like to encourage a real freedom in the exploration
of the many theatrical and unconventional uses for this simple
piece of black fabric.
This show rejects stereotypes on many levels. Iraq is a great melt
ing pot, and its women vary from fair and blonde to dark-skinned
66
and 1,1.11" luill 'll Ill s(orically, Iraq has been one of the most secu
lar C""I1(lIl l lll till Middle East, and its women some of the most
eelli . 1(1 ' " II IVIIIIIII I,, wrong to over-dramatize for sake of a polit
ical 1'''"11 '" III 11'.1 ' Ihe women for sympathy by focusing on the
injlls(il \ , Ii'l 01 11 1'.1 1 \II ill\" illtensely emotional. I would encourage
thos( ' ." 1111 [', ' II" '11111 I j"I' ,,(" 9 Parts ofDesire to never think of these
WOIlI( ' 11 ,I" \' 1< 11111 ' , "I 1'''1'1 r:ly them sentimentally but rather explore
the r(' :.dll ' lI ' i ' ""I'll I< ,11 \ . warmth, humor, integrity and the ancient
hiSI()( I' III ili! 11 ' ''11 W""I1; 1 (kpicted here.
67
GLOSSARY OF ARABIC TERMS AND SONGS
Apsu and Tiamat
In the epic of creation Enuma Elish (ca. 2000 B.C.), Apsu and
Tiamat are the water god and goddess who become the father and
mother of all creation.
Aa
Yes.
Abd ai-Karim Qasim
An Iraqi military officer born in Baghdad, Qasim (1914-63) organ
ized the 1958 military coup that overthrew the pro-British monarchy
and became prime minister of the new republic. In contrast to the
monarchy, he was thought of as the leader for ordinary Iraqis. He was
responsible for the 1958 interim constitution establishing equality,
regardless of religion , race or nationality. His reign was marked by
increased access to education and resources, land reform and other
progressive measures. Qasim was against Iraq joining the greater
United Arab Republic and in turn kept down the pan-Arab Ba' ath
Party. On February 9, 1963, he was overthrown and executed when
the Ba' ath Party staged it's fi rst military coup and took control of
Iraq. Earlier, Qasim had escaped an assassination attempt on his life
led by Saddam Hussein who afterwards fled to Egypt.
Abaya
A garment worn in some areas of the Persian Gulf region. In Iraq,
it is usually a square, long-sleeved, floor-length, loose, black gar
ment worn over other clothing. It is worn by both men and
women. Men wear it hanging from their shoulders; women wear it
hanging off the top of their heads.
Amma
Aunt.
Amal
A woman's name meaning "hope."
Ammu
Uncle.
68
Ba ' ,I,;"
AIll("lldul "I iii , 11,I' ''II'any.TheBa' thPartyisasecularpan-Arab
part y. II IV. ' " 1""llIkt! ill ill 1945 and came to power in Iraq in
196.). \ ,.. ld,1I1I 1111 "', 1'111 look rotal control of the Ba' th Party in Iraq
in I'l l 'l wi" II III ,1, ',(1111('(1 lhc presidency. Beginning with and
throll)',11I1I1I Ii .. 11 ,111 11 ,111 War ( 1980-1988), the party grew to have
a srroil l', 1,,1II', " II "" Illililary. Under Saddam it became nearly
impm, dd, I" 1,, 1/,1 ,III )' IIC" , ilioll and advance in the public sector
wirholll 1111 ' 111 11 11 1; .. 1111 ' 1111, \'1 0" [he Ba' th Party and few citizens
could .111I 1I,1 1"" 11 " 1',. , II It .1'.1 110111in<llly. After [he 1991 Gulf War and
throuhll<'lli iI " ',. 111' 11(111'. IIl1po:;cd OIl Iraq through 2003, both the
stall' :111' I dI' p.11I \ ''11'11 w( :d,(, lI ct,L fiHcing the regime to increasingly
depcllll 1111 Ild, .d \"l' dll' " .111.1 dislance itself from secularism.
BalM
Fat hl l.
Bal)yl(lll
, .l\ ll l.d Ii i' II d' I' I""I.I . ill Mesopotamia (contemporary Iraq,
abolll 10 11111. III 11(1 !-d.. lll llns, south of Baghdad). The name
is lit " ( :1" I 1""11 ..1 ' II.d,, I," wltich is derived in turn from the
Seillill, 1,"111 1. ,01, dfl . "1;11"'" (;:11<.:." This, in turn, is a translation
of tl lL' ''' III,,, 1111' i:l l, III'"1.1
Berlllll /II
A dl',',!' 11 " WI II I I 1.1111 ,1(' \, rilles a member of a nomadic group
inltal,illll \,. "' i .1. , . II It 'f',11I1I "I Ik Middle East and northern Africa.
C,li l'/'
All ,,1,1 1'1"' III' dl' I. ... 11'1 of Ih <.: Islami c community. It comes
('rolll lil l /I I d". WI'It! 1,ll.Il if.1I1 which means "successor," meaning
:1.',11". '.', ' 11 I.. iI,. 1'111/.\1"1 tvll1lt :llnmad.
LIIIII i 'h I! 1/,1)11'"
/I w il, Iii iI ,. II "11,11.11" I (ld Id in classical Arabic), meaning to
"<': 11 1',1111 " 1\ II 11/1111111 ." 11.1!,.IHl.ldi song modernized by the popular
I 111 ,, 11" ," M."II.I I :-.1.11 IS wirh rhe well-known lines: chal chal
' :d.I I' I'" "11111'"11."1 . NIIIIII fi'l:l ' ii (rhe pomegranate [branches] have
CIII ', IIII, ,I "" .11'.\ 1"1111111'.. "'Ive <. :01111:: (0 the rescue. I do not desire
till'. I" .HIl r.I"" I,d ' " III' 1I<III1 C!). While the song appears to be a love
,)" il l< 'IlId,Il' . II I' , .".'0 illll'l'prcted allegorically as a reference
()l)
to Iraq around the time of World War I being a battleground
between the waning Ottoman Empire [pomegranate] which had
ruled Iraq for four centuries and the British [lemons] who occupied
Iraq in 1917 under the guise of liberation.
Che Mali Wali
The title of a traditional Iraqi song, "Because I Have No Ruler
[Protector]." The lyrics are as follows:
che mali wali
buya smallah
mit' adhiba bi dinyay
ya baba
che mali wali
battah w siditni
buya smallah
bein al juruf wil mayy
ya baba
battah w siditini
yal rna riditni
buya smallah
tiksir janahi leish
ya baba
yal rna riditni
kho tidri biyeh
buya smallah
mali gulub ithnein
ya baba, kho tidri biyeh
wa shdhall iliyeh
buya smallah
wahid w akhadhteh wiyak
ya baba, wa shdhall iliyeh
Eridu, Qurna, Ur
Because I have no ruler
by God (In the name of God!)
I am tortured/suffering in my life
oh Daddy
because I have no ruler.
Like a duck and you hunted me
by God (In the name of God!)
between the shore and the river
oh Daddy
like a duck and you hunted me
you who did not want me
by God (In the name of God!)
why do you break my wings
oh Daddy
you who did not want me
you know me better
by God (In the name of God!)
I don't have two hearts
oh Daddy, you know me better
and what am I left with?
by God (In the name of God!)
(I only had) one hean, and you
took it with you
oh, Daddy, what is left of me
Various ancient cities and villages, all located within the current
boundaries of Iraq, which are thought [Q be the original site of the
Garden of Eden.
70
Ghadll
T0!1101'l(' W,
Habit!li
"My d:IIIIII I', ," Ii i" ,1.1', .1 W.I )' oj' saying "I love you."
Halal;jtl
A vdl ' Ij',< III NOI !i)('rt) Iraq that suffered a devastating
chemi, :d .111 ,11 1 111,,1 , 1 :\,111.1.1111 llussein.
Hartl/II
"Sin" 01 "1: ,d' I"d, II ,;
Hisr.l r
"Emil;! I) ',(1 , Ii , ,; "I', I .. d II ' r .II',Sor UN sanctions imposed on Iraq
from til, ! lid d" 1oIdl \XI. I I ill 1')')1 [Q the U.S.-led invasion in
M arch 1'1') \
Hudll
A WOI 11,11 I';, 1, ,11, 1," "!ill" way" or " God's way," "enlighten
menl"
Il-mtlll ll )11 1111,,' tI 1',,/11 /,
"DC:ilIIIIIIIII"' Ji" I" ,'I ':
! J1' Imqi proverb,
JL-hlllllllil 1,11,,/,
"l)rai,s(' II, I .. 1 ,,,.1 " Il..lld, (;od,"
KaJ'lIIl l"
A mid"l, ,I." ,. Iii ' I',1,I ... d"""IIII' t'lilrall3aghdad with many shops.
Kurt )'11
An h011(l1 iI,( i ,' ill' II"',J I .. 1,,'/"1 III parents in relation to their first
born S(l1I 1, ,1 ; 11 " 1111' , If ,I' Idld is Ilamed Omar, the parents would
respc( II 1111 1' I, I "I; I', .\ I .. "I', AlII 1 ( )mar (father of omar) and Umm
Om:11 ( 1II I IiI" I .. I I 1)'1.11) , II is 1101 a common practice to take the
n:U1I" "1 ,1,111' 1,.1,,, I , ,I,d. "", dl<' p:II'cnc has no sons. A kunya is often
liS"'! " "'1'1 I tlull\ III 'd, >,,,1 (II .1 p:ln:nl 's own first name.
'/ 1
Kurd
d;,
An Indo-Iranian, non-Arab population that inhabits the transna
tional region known as Kurdistan, a plateau and mountain area in
southwest Asia including pans ofIraq, Turkey and Iran, and smaller
sections of Syria and Armenia. Comprising more than thirty million
people, it is the world's largest ethnic group without its own state.
Iraqi Kurdish populations suffered political and social injustices
under Saddam, including the infamous Anfal campaign and the
chemical gassing of the Kurdish city of Halabja where thousands
were killed andlor displaced.
La
No.
La iLaha ilia aLLah
An Arabic phrase meaning "there is no God but God." It is the first
half of the Muslim profession of faith. It is also uttered upon wit
nessing or hearing of a sad or calamitous event.
Laya!
A woman's name meaning "all the nights" or "nights."
Mansur
An upscale neighborhood in Baghdad.
Marsh Arabs
Inhabitants of the marshes in southern Iraq where the Tirgris and
Euphrates rivers meet. Direct descendants of the original
Mesopotamian cultures (Babylonian and Sumerian), the Marsh
Arabs have maintained their way of life for thousands of years. The
marshes are a unique ecosystem in the Middle East, supporting a
wide variety of plant and animal life not commonly found in desert
regions. Marsh Arabs live in reed huts built on top of the water. Also
constructed from reeds are canoes, barges and large Mudhif's (guest
houses). Their primary trade is fishing, farming and the raising of
water buffalo. Marsh Arabs are primarily Shi ' a. During the
Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s the relatively inhospitable marsh lands
were a place of refuge for soldiers defecting from the war. The
Marsh Arabs also participated in the 1991 uprisings against Saddam
Hussein following the Gulf War. As punishment, Saddam built a
series of dams to divert the flow of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers
72
away 1111111 d
ll
, III 11 "IIi ",. 1\1111,11 of the wetland regions were turned
into <1' '',1' 11 , j1ll.l iii ' Arahs were forced out of their homes.
Subsl'llill IliI .\, ji ,"li"l (' ,1111/ 1'(lIlLllation primarily untouched for
5,O()() I" ,II '. Wil'. \11 1111111 1 d . Marsh Arabs remain, but most are
refug"' '' ' 11\ 111 1: III I ,ill ' I , 111 .1 i11 lraq or have emigrated to Iran.
lvIolllI! / t ' /',I/ltlll 1/ / U/f I
A hOlel III 11,li',I" II,1 III Ii,, ' K:ilT;lda di strict that was the site of a
deY; !.'i. III1I II. 1 1IIII' lId, . ," lvl.ll l it 17rh,2004 that destroyed most of
the IHII ' I .Ii ll l ," ill l\ 1,1111 '. ,.... Vi,lirns of the bombing were prima
rily 11. 1' li:, li \'l lill lii II Ii" lilli'-\.
Mu llil itil
", Ad,l( Id,l liN, ,, lil1.1 111 "tt "IJd' ;1" ill classical Arabic. Traditionally,
anlllll .I\ ,' 1 li li" ,I III wI1l111'ads c<1ll-and-responsewith women
mOlll"II ' !, " 1,1 11, 1,1.. ' .II ' I'.' {) Il., idcrcci very good if she can bring
the \VIIII II II I" , , I \ ili l' ii, II II' wilh her improvised heartbreaking
vcrs\,\ .,I 1I1I1 1 ;it- "I
Nallii tl
G LIIIII \
Na 1111111
Thl' ill 'd ,I" l! !' '.i". it, rJ )'jl ;'lllllcrial1 mythology (ca. 4000 B. C. ),
she j, iii , 111"1\,,, ;,1 ,,-II ,I' .1111111 who gave birth to heaven and
earili. -.. 11' , I' loJ l hI Ii]l' ,va. I
P(/I," !illl Ilrt /. /
A 1II.Ijlli 111 01 , I Ii' 1\ 1t' 1,.I II,1 Iv l" ' I" 11l,1I1)' f()reign journalist and news
org.11I 1J d1) 1" I Ii 1. ,1 I ,I ,1111111 1"II 1(' war. It overlooks al-Firdaws I
sqll:ll " wi" I, di ' 11111'.'11 . l"I'I'\ill l\ i,(S;IJdam's statue took place.
(j!11'1lti
.'In' l' II<I'i , 12 illll [I, I ii
ti! /" '''/'!'( i 1, .,.1
1\ livi ' il II 1,,1<1111 Iii 1",,1 ,1111 11:1)1, h<l;ld . Afler the 1991 Gul f War, a
11111'0.11, .,1 il" \ 111' II. ,III IlIl ',ldl ' llI C;corge Bush Sr. was constructed
1111 lili 1I,I,i. \ 1/""1 "I 1111 .iI Itl sllid Hotel in central Baghdad, forc
il'l \ .111 \ 101" ,'11,1111 1', iii, I"lid t(l walk across the mosaic. The sole
01 III' ., Iii" I' , ' 1011'".1, II '.! 1111( 11':111 in Middle Eastern cultures, and
Ii" ,1, 1 IIf' w:,IIII IJ ', 1111 lilt. was seen as an insult to George
Bush. When American rroops rook the city in the 2003 invasion of
Iraq, the mosaic was replaced with a picture of Saddam Hussein.
Sa bah
A girl's name meaning "Morning."
Sammura
An endearing form of the name Samira, which means a "good
companion" or "conversation partner."
Shaharazad
Also spelled "Scheherazade," the Persian name of the main narra
tor and heroine in One Thousand and One Nights who saved herself
and the women of her country from death at the hands of King
Shahryar by weaving a story so compelling night after night for one
thousand and one nights.
Shahryar
Name of the king in One Thousand and One Nights who would wed
a virgin each night and then kill her the next morning to assure she
would never betray him with another man.
Shatt aI-Arab
The point of confluence of the Euphrates and Tigris in the town of
Qurna in southern Iraq, Shatt ai -Arab means "stream of the
Arabs." It ends in the Gulf and its banks are lined with thickets of
palm rrees. It is one of the potential sites of the Garden of Eden.
Sheikh
The elder of a tribe.
Shi'a
A follower of Prophet Mohammed and his successors (the twelve
imams), the first being Ali. The term "Shi'a" means "group" or
"followers" and originally referred to the followers of Ali. Because
the Shi'a believe the rightful successor ro the Prophet Mohammed
was through the family line, they followed Ali, the Prophet's son
in-law and cousin. When Ali was assassinated in 661, the larger
Muslim population began to splinter. Hussein, Ali's son, eventu
ally led a rebellion in Kerbala, Iraq, in the year 680. He was
slaughtered brutally, and his death is marked as foundational
74
mOIIJ( ' 111 I'li ill' ',1,1 ' " ' \1' \ 1 :lnd is celebrated each year during the
mOlldl ,iI 1\ .,1\1 11 " ,I 11(ll y ksrival in Kerbala, Iraq, where Shi'a
pilgrilil " L" "" I" ,, 1' II Il' 101 1lllssein's death. The festival is marked
by pil l',III' i"I'.' ,,"I of Ill arryrdom where passion plays are
en;KI, ',1 ,,,,,I I" "pl, I" ,II ,llld whip themselves in commemoration
for 111i'" ,('iil\ '.ldl ,! III I', ,111.1 IllImkr. The Shi'as constitute the sec
ond !:tI l ',' ', I '" ,_I II ', 1-, 1.1111
Sh/oll ;,l,
"How ,II' "l ilt i i 'l 11 ,1'11 ,I i,tinl. Literally translates as "what color
arc ), ()lI ('
Su III 1/
TIll' 1.11 1',1, 1 ,1'""IIII !l.ll i" ll of Islam. After the Prophet
MlIl l: IIII1Il ", I\ .1 , 1111 , Ii,,' ""' 1III Iii followed Muhammad's compan
iOll, /\1111 1\:" I, \\, 1,,, I.. , .1111 1' 1111.': first caliph after Muhammad. As
oppml.! ,1 1,-, i li e ':111' wll(l beli eve that the ruler of the Muslim
COlll 11111 II II , 11i1l ,1 I .. 1.1,.. " "lHlcllt of the prophet and his family,
thc 's IIIIIII ', 1' 1II" " III iii' ,"IIWnSllS of the community and that the
inili :ti ':11 1' ,'.,', 1" I "I 1\ 1," ILtiu' :t!'Lcr Muhammad's death was legit
im;!I" , '1 111111 ; 1\ i)II11 " !lII,.I /llIIC 80 to 90 percent of the global
Mli Slill1 11011'1" II !ii "
7;, 'ft!
C. )I t II., I 11 I I 'i
]'is ' 1//1
Nill"
lIlIlIlI
"rvl"d\< I , ;j
{II"
.\)(,' 1 1' 1'1,1,1 (,)1 /'1 1' , i l l
m ll 'l l III,d
" WI" ,! l' i, .,,1
/ /" "" 11
I" Ii\< 1\ 11I1! 1I) \"/l "1' \,1 '1,11 ';\\1' quotes text taken from the follow-
i ll n h \lljl Il }i -' f'
'i
THE WELL
If you were to drink water out of the well
Beware of throwing a stone inro it!
For time will, one day, take you back
To quench your thirst there
Beware of throwing a stOne into it!
You will rerurn to the well one day
Thirsty and assured that it will be rhere
But you will not find anything; neither spring, nor river
So beware of throwing a stOne inro ir!
Life is rreacherous
So rhink, time and again
'
Tend to your affairs discretely
It's better; you keep trouble at bay
Beware of throwing a stOne into it!
Listen to me! You may benefit!
Take note and learn!
YOll may desire benefit for yourself
But remember be fair to fellow humans
'
Beware of throwing a stOne intO it!
"The Well " song by Hassan Khewka, cranslati on by Sinan Antoon.
Yaboo
A cry of disaster or tragedy.
Ya'ni
"I mean."
76
PROPERTY LIST
Ab;I )' :1 ( 1,1 ", I 1,,1' 1 I"., 1".II'IIl('lll)
BUild I. (" Il i l 1 ,\ \ 1\ )
OJ d ,\ II'" '. (t\ 1 \ J11 1\ ' 1\ )
Pai Il II II , I " I. i I 1\ \ ,' I )
Phol\(' (1 1\\ Ai 1
Portv, \ . . 11,01 "Ji ol l ;" 111 ' . III I..l yal's an studio which she crushes to
II!..! ' I, . I I,l l ' II' ( I I\V /'!.)
W ; \lI ' 1 ( t\,11 11 I ,\ , 1\ )
\>;tlt i,k, I' I"" II, "" I /,.1.1 '", (I (l.IIJA)
Pai II I iII I'. ( 11\' J\ I r I t\ I ~ N1\ )
7

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