Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Filim: part three

I woke up feeling the car coming to a stop; I lift my head from the makeshift front seat bed. After 12 hours of driving, my body had gotten used to the bumps and shakes accompanied with driving on the Iraqi interstate freeway, or whatever they call it down here.
"Where are we?", Jabbar, my driver, doesn't seem the least bit perturbed, he did however look a bit nervous from the way his eyes kept darting around, he pointed "That way is Falluja, you go I cannot take you further"
Squinting my eyes I could see a city about half an hour's walk. Although the term city could hardly be used for these rows of mud brick houses and scores of minarets standing tall amongst the ruined city, it looked like a medieval township. "Jabs mate, you've come this is far! Can't you take me closer?"
"No Sam this very dangerous for me, these Dlaimia will kill me" Apparently those 'Dlaimia' didn't like my driver so much" It'll be fine bro just take me a bit closer!" My driver looks at me with unease "Sam my friend, Iraq is a big country with a lot of beoble" "a lot of beoble fighting all the time all the beoble" Wow. I was surprised things here were so bad this guy couldn't come within half an hour of cities. I'm so glad I didn't bring any large suitcases outside the car I hugged Jabbar and thanked him, I handed him the money but he didn't accept it. "Sam ya akhi, you will need this money more than me" He looked at me in sadness, "Sam you are a good boy, be careful there a lot of bad beoble here, do not die", and with that, he drove away. The half hour walk to Falluja was exactly as disgusting as I thought it would be, the ankle deep mud tried its hardest to halt my march on the city. The sun was giving me all it had-even thought it was almost 4pm; I was glad then for the heat wave Melbourne was experiencing before I left, otherwise I would not have been standing now, battling this lake of mud.
Finally I made it to some houses, all laid out in neat rows which had now deviated and went every which way. I could make out people now, five little kids running around what looked to be a soccer ball but was not, screaming their lungs out at each other and the ball. They were all wearing the same long dusty outfits, it was very impressive how they could maneuver a ball or even run with a dress that reaches to their feet, but there they were doing it! Women dressed in large shawls covering their hair, almost hovering it seems because their clothes covered their feet. There was an old man walking very slowly with an ancient stick, had he been in Australia I would have thought he was taking a nice stroll down his street, it was a very quiet moment then and I was about to take out my camera and filming but thought the better of it. Just then, a loud voice sounded in the horizon, first it was that single strong crisp voice that called and stretched for a long while before a symphony of voices all alone but together non the less joined in this call, these calls, strong yet calming, powerful and beautiful, with their long melodic tones and sad rhythms, overwhelmed me again and again, washing over me like deliciously hot water in winter time, and I remained in place determined to feel every decibel of sound, the hair on my body stood in anticipation and relish for this sound, for that minute I wanted nothing more than to be in that place, at that time, and listening to that call.
Thus, it came to and ends, and opening my eyes after what felt like the best shiatsu massage ever, before me was a city transformed. The kids playing soccer had tripled to about 12 and were all leaving the dirt square soccer field, I could easily make out dozens of people all leaving their homes, all walking in the same general direction.
So I started walking along, initially nobody noticed me, but an aussie with a Stussy backpack and ozi rags can only blend in for so long in a city like Falluja, the little kids were pointing at me, the women eyed me from the corner of their eyes and spoke feverently to each other, some men were looking directly at me with a mixture of surprise and amusement.
We finally reached our destination, a tall minaret with an impressively built mud brick mosque, it had the same color tone as the houses and other buildings here but it was a lot higher which made it stand out.
I walked in, half way through the flood of shoes on the floor I realized that I should probably take off my shoes as well, I stood there for a second admiring my white adidas shoes amongst the sandals and slippers, praying no one steals them I walked in, the mosque inside was a lot cleaner than I gave it credit for, the carpets were bright red, the walls were a subtle white creamy color, everyone in the mosque was dressed in white or gray. I sat in the back and waited to see what would happen. People were walking in and making what seemed to be random prayers, one of the men noticed me sitting and walked over to me "Alsalamu alaikum"
"Hi" I answered, feeling sheepish; I'm supposed to say something else
"You are Amereekany?"
"No, I'm Australian, I'm here to make a documentary" then remembering the right term "Making a film about Falluja"
"Filim?" He looks at me for a second "where you are living?"
Realizing that I had nowhere to stay "Nowhere for now, are there hotels around here?"
"This is Falluja, not Seedny, but I will find you a blasé" I watched him walking over to the front side of the mosque and started speaking to a man also dressed in a long dark grey dress, but who also sported a beard and a funky red top. They looked at me and spoke some more.
The man came back to me and offered me a smile and his hand "My name is Abu Ali, you will stay with me"
I shook his hand and took his smile "Pleased to meet you Abu Ali, my name is Sami"

1 comment:

Douns said...

very nice nasser.. am waiting for part 4 :)