I get myself into this beautiful car and I keep holding my breaths so tightly.
I look through the window, and I find it difficult to concentrate at different things at the same time, however, I do my best and I succeed in minutes and fail in others.
It's like Baghdad with all of its walls and doors, all streets and shops, all trees and earth bulks are of my own and nothing could stop me from showing my exaggerated eagerness for the divine providence to defend me against that big flow of thoughts.
"Good idea to spend the night with your beloved uncle, Sandybelle, right?" my uncle murmurs loudly, breaking the silence. I grin back and say nothing.
I find a way into his house, which I like a lot from the beginning, despite the small size. Its modern with cute decoration.
He tells me where to sleep and goes to bring me orange juice, which I ask for after a while of considerable coquetry.
We talk a lot, my uncle, his wife and myself, about different things, and she starts talking about marriage and boys, I inspirationally find a good excuse to go to bed.
I just want to keep thinking before sleeping, as usual, but it happens and I sleep quickly, no wonders since I arrived today at 1 pm after 7 hours- long way, and it's 2 am.
Only two hours are my part of sleep. At 4 am, my uncle awakes me, and I have a bath and we go to my grandparents' house, where everybody is ready for the trip, except those who are in my age or younger who prefer to stay in bed , enjoying the excellent air conditioning. I shouldn't stay, I should accompany my mom.
I kiss the couple of lovebirds (which my other uncle has brought yesterday)by air.
" I'm going to bring A and his family" as I hear it, I jump up quickly, and cry " I am coming!"
They stare at me weirdly and I smile back.
As we reach A's house, I get out of the car and stand at the gate and feel my legs tremble, and as I spend a few minutes wondering why, A opens the door and " Oh Sandybelle!! It would be better if you came with us to sleep with Zayyoni , we couldn’t sleep from his crying, he wanted you a lot, he just slept from the tiring weaning!". I stare a while, and say nothing, I greet my uncle's wife (A's wife) and immediately carry Zayyoni, he opens his eyes, and as seeing me , he says "Sandona inti wakeeha, leish me jeti yammi elbarha?"
(= Sanybelle, you are rioter, why didn’t you come to me yesterday? ) and sleeps back soon.
I cant help my eyes from tearing a little and I hug him.
Then, we all get into a taxi to "al-nahdha garage" where people can rent cars to take them to different cities in the southern Iraq.
"Omara" was our goal.*
Tahtooooooooooooooooh! Come on! get up!" I speak to Zayyoni, and I am about to continue when his mom interrupts " what tahtooh?" and I am like" oh, well.. yes. I meant to.. ok ,this could be a nice nickname for Zain –despite Zayyoni is what I used to say and what it's the most suitable- **
" but doesn’t fit, does it? " his mom responds. "no it doesn't" I answer. And as I am trying to find a good admirable thought to change the subject, Zayyoni saves me here and jumps up to hug my neck. Repeating my name, making me feel the happiest person in the world. " ok ok, she's your fiancée son!" his mom says, and he just winks at me, and says " laaaaaa laaaaa hahahaha" (la=no).
I giggle a little thinking such a big devil he could be!! Lol
"Sandona, let’s read together" Zayyoni, bringing me a magazine, and I start to read it for him, trying to tell him a little about the alphabet, he interrupts me and says " Sandona, that's enough for reading, now, tell me a story", and I tell him several stories, what I remember the most is that of the battle between the sun and the wind and how the sun won it by making the man take off his jacket. He likes it a lot, shouting" Sandona tfoooooooooooooz" (= Sandybelle wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiins).
Then, Zayyoni picks up some finger chips and asks me to help him eat. This finally makes his mother fidget his many requests telling him he is annoying me. Frankly he is not, but I agree with his mom just for he should always understand that everything mummy says is true and right.
It is midday, and we are still on the way, we passed through Hella, then Kut, and I don’t remember what else, and I am always fond of Hella. as we were close to Hella, I whispered to Zain "tahtooh , I miss you" and Zain kept repeating, TAHTOOOOH.
It's very hot, and the sun is burning, on this way, I really realize how bad is the situation these cities live, and how horrible is the condition for most of the citizens, and I keep wondering, what's been happening during these 8 years? There's a very very big difference between the south and the north, despite the truth of presence of most Iraq's riches in the south.
65% of houses are made of mud, or mud with bricks which you can very clearly recognize, against the architectural art bases.
We reach Omara, and my uncles start telling us, mom and I , how things have changed, mom is about to cry, and I stupidly ask "mom what's wrong?"
"its my hometown Sandybelle, and it passion, you know what? I can remember everything happened here" and she keeps telling me stories about lives here, stories she never told me before, what caught me most are stories of nineties , when people of those cities had a war with the ruling regime that time, and how bodies and blood were in streets, how guns were sold in streets and how all shops were closed and every family had a consolation of one member or more.
We reach a court, where the main business has to occur, and as I get out of a car, I start to feel , or people's looks make me feel, very bad, guilty, as if I have done a crime.
I pinch my uncle wife's arm, asking her what's wrong, " don’t worry, they may think you've come from a different planet" and keeps laughing. I get crazier, and I can say I wish I was a mouse, so I can hide, or the fastest panther , so I can run away with no one notices!
Then, I realize, I had to wear an Abaya over my usual daily clothes ( a shirt and trousers).
I feel so sorry . and while I am blaming myself, Zayyoni cries " I want to go to a bathroom, right now, I need, now now now" and we were shocked, it was not a suitable time for this, at all, NOT FIT AT ALL!!
His mother and I start to look for a W.C , no one knows where, then, finally, a policeman tells us where, and we thank God, and reach it when the handsome Zain refuses to enter, explaining " it's awful , its dirty!! The smell!! The smell!! I cant!'
Oh no!! another problem, no Zain , not this time!!!
I keep begging him to enter, his mother too, but the obstinate officer keeps the "no".
He starts to cry, and I hug him tightly, " please tahtooh, this time, for me, only this time" and my legs tremble back, and I am in a big mess, wanting to be two halves, half to beg Zain and half to think of my legs trembling this dawn when I was thinking about Zain and Tahtooh. " Sandybelle, your leg!" Zain's mother says.
" no its ok, no problem" I answer.
I cry too, and look at Zain's mother who is about to show terrible madness says" Sandybelle, what's wrong??"
Then Zain "Sandona, you cry?? Leish tibchen la tibcheeeeeeeeeeeeen!!" (=why you cry? Don't cry!!)
"you stop crying first" I reply.
And there's a pause, and I catch Zayyoni from his hand and help him go into the toilet.
Everything then turns peaceful, and we ,the three, sit together, Zayyoni sitting in my lap, and I bend my head to his mother's shoulder.
Then, I decide to stand outside the room, which is very crowded, and I carry a bottle of water with me. An old woman comes across me, stares at me, and I stare at her too, I am not brash, I just enjoy it, she turns back completely, and returns to me . I am so scared, but I cant cry, I am scared from the wrinkles of her face, then I pretend to be careless, but she breaks down the legal silence, and asks for some water, surely I don’t hesitate and I give her the bottle immediately.
All she says is " this water seems to be from heaven, and you are a bird from the heaven!" (= hatha mei men el-janna, 'w inti ter men el-janna), I say nothing, and she leaves peacefully.
Business is over, and we go to a bank, after that, we have a journey all around, by car, there's a new bridge being built, only one beautiful street, where we park the car and enter a restaurant for W.C
Time is around 6 pm , the sky is very clear and marvelous. I freely can draw the picture of both Zayyoni and tahtooh (Yahya) on , my name is up there, and the sky totally is a someone's single name. .Also freely, I enjoy remembering my legs trembling, and realize it being of no danger and no fear, it could be just a call for Tahtooh.
Really, I'm so eager to meet my beloved little princes, Zayyoni , and Tahtooh.
*I am doing my promise about writing something about my visit to Omara :) , and I did my best to remember every tiny event with the exact sequence, and thankfully i could remember most of the speeches and places. and i thank you a lot for making me remember that awesome day.
** in Iraq, we are used to use nicknames while calling people we love, and these nicknames are derived from the original names, as Mohammad – Hammodi
Sandybelle- Sandona ;) ;)