Grief in Section 60
The Hanging Gardens are described as a lavish home of exotic plants and animals, waterfalls, and gardens hanging from palace terraces, however the structure might never have actually existed except in the mind of Greek poets and historians. The Hanging Gardens were located on the east bank of the River Euphrates, about 50 km south of Baghdad, Iraq.
Later yearsī language lessons by Elisabeth Gyllman
A tale of a car mechanic who became a global traveller
The huge pinetrees of Sweden
As Mohammad Hussein arrived in Sweden he couldnt get over all the nude women. They had no veils to cover their faces and he felt their eyes oogled him with contempt in huge round blue dollseyes. He was a paki and they were lightheaded, by all means! The women had bared arms and many showed the cleavage of their breasts as normal as the sun shines above. In Baghdad, such a dress in a woman, would cause the traffic to stop and the horns to hoot! The resident men seemed like zoombies and didnt even raise an eyebrow as the lightly dressed women sifted along in the crowds of the streetwalks! Mohammad was really a stranger in this western city. The women wore tight fitting blue jeans that left little left for imagination and stumbled along in high heeled shoes that made them look ridiculously tall. Mohammad shuddered tho the warm nordic summer breeze was at its best ever. He felt the familiar ticking in his non existing left forearm and on the right ringfinger, that Saddamīs men burnt away with a cigarette, when Mohammad refused to tell the truth, he had plotted to kill Saddam. The doctorīs called that ticking a phantom pain, it ticked in parts of him that didnīt exist. And why would he want to kill Saddam? Just because he thought the man was a bastard, didnīt mean he would be extradited from earth, at least Mohammad would never have thought himself capable of such an act in those days. Five years had passed since Saddamīs animals got a hold of him. His customers expected him to have a say about this and that, so he provided some fuel to the daily talks, thatīs all. Mohammad was around 40 years old and was working as a car mechanic in Salal Street in south Baghdad, in one of the poorer areas and maybe he had said now and then that he wanted the bastard gone, hearing some Jordanian lorry drivers passing by his repair shop on their way southwards to Basra, saying Saddam stole the foreign aid medical relief money that the Americans paid, to build himself and his large family yet another summer cottage in the mountains facing Iran. But Mohammad had never been involved in politics until the guardsmen came and got him and several others in the neighborhood. Now he was sitting in a far away country named Sweden, learning Swedish together with refugees and immigrants, youth and elderly, men and women from Afghanistan, Azerbajan, Somalia, Eritrea, Lebanon, Palestine, Sudan, Nigeria and Uganda, victims of the warlords all over the planet, a sorrow display of the United Nations global human selection. Who was he now? He was a nobody, a paki nobody wanted among all these lightheads and fairskinned nude people, he was beside his own will a refugee in a foreign country he had never heard of, let alone never ever wanted to visit. They told him he should be happy he was alive. Outside the window some huge pinetrees strived to reach the realms of Allah, and Mohammad thought to himself, why had his God left him with this misery? God didnt love him. Earlier in his life, Mohammad hadnīt been much interested in religion, he thought the black dressed priests, the mullahs, dull and too serious and they definitely didnīt know how to enjoy life. Mohammad had a strong belief in Allah, the only God, but somehow Mohammad had formed his own beliefs which did not include having to be within hearing distance of the islamic preaching tower and certainly not kneeling for Allah five times a day. Many people were like him nowadays and didnīt think much of it until the islamist terrorists started their warfare on everything that moved. They certainly didnīt appeal to Mohammad. When the first terror attacks were announced, Mohammad was sorry he bore the profetīs name, how could anyone claim belief of God at the same time you condoned a killing of another human? If Mohammad had a belief, it was in a loving God, Allah wasnīt a killer. He had been satisfied with the life he had in his repair store and had started to build the new house in the southern outskirts of Baghdad, just where the desert was closing in. He had planned to build a larger repair shop there, with a full greasing pit for large vans and lorries and he knew his customers would have followed him to the new premises and he often had talked about his future plans with them. - You have to leave the past behind. You have to let it go and leave it in the hands of God. God will take care of Saddam for you. You have to focus on the road ahead, the future. The man at the refugee camp in the outskirts of this huge western town of Stockholm tried to get him on the right road and all Mohammad wanted was to die, to never wake up again to face this new reality. He wanted to live in the familiar surroundings in Salal Street in Baghdad with his old parents resting in the inner room and Leila and the kids rummaging in the small front yard. But he would never again go back to that life in Baghdad. That street was gone for ever, Salal Street was a pile of rubble and the ever hungry meagre desert crows were the lords of his former childhood paradise. The Friday afternoon outings with picnics at the historic sites of Babylonīs hanging gardens, when his grandfather Abbas would tell Mohammad of the grandeur of the Iraqui peopleīs history. Never again. No going back to the old life. - Good morning, chirped the teacher in the Swedish class and he looked at her with empty eyes. - Sabah el cheir, she continued energetically in Arabic and smiled at him. He could smell her perfume and rejected her being an unknown woman being so close to him. She extended a professional smile to him and it didnt touch his heart. She became serious at once, seeing the tears in his eyes. Now she was showing real feelings and her face softened and it made him even more sorry for himself. What was he doing in this sinful country where the women showed their bodies in full contempt of God and the learned men of the Koran? And these were his thoughts, the one who claimed he didnt need to be within hearing distance of the prayer callers, and the one who didnt have to prostrate himself before the glory of Allah? It could easily be the probable punishment on a heathen like himself, by a raged disappointed god. "Good morning Mohammad Hussein. You lost half an arm and a finger but you are alive and you must stay alive for the sake of your wife and children. That is Allahīs will. And here starts your new life in Sweden." He had been shipped around half the globe and they told him he had a new life. Leila and the children waited in a refugee camp in Lebanon and he didnt know when they would join him. That depended on the different countries refugee quotas being filled, so maybe she ended up in New Zeeland? If they were separated, he would swim to get to her, if there was no other way! Mohammad felt the well acquianted feeling of panic and tried to stifle the pain inside himself, he ached for Leila and wondered if she was missing him as much as he missed her, he raized his gaze and looked above the huge pine trees outside the window and tried to catch the shadow of Allahīs divine face, but instead he thought he caught a glimpse of the devil, Saddam smiled, an untouchable devil rummaging the skies, devouring the terror victimīs minds forever. And suddenly Mohammad burst into tears right there in the classroom and the teacher with the long blond hair and the blue linen blouse came to his side and put her soft cool arms around him. She held his body and comforted him like a baby and he wailed loudly. Around him all the people from the other refugee countries stared solemnly at him, a globe on the run. He cried for them too. After a while several of the men and women in the classroom had wet streaks of tears trickling down their cheeks.
Excerpt from the novel Later yearīs language lessons by Elisabeth Gyllman