Freedom Fighters
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 years´ language lessons by Elisabeth Gyllman

A tale of a car mechanic who became a global traveller.
Longing for Leila
It was as though their two children didn´t exist, at least all he 
was thinking of was Leila. He ached for her presence, to hold her 
in his arms, to have her by his side. The loneliness in his new 
abode scared him. The huge modern buildings and office blocks closed 
in on him as he was walking the silent streets of this foreign place, 
the solid house walls came alive, swayed threateningly over his head, 
paki go home. 

The last Leila and Mohammad saw of each other was at the Lebanese 
refugee camp. They parted as Mohammad climbed aboard the help 
organisation the Red Halfmoon´s lorry. He was on his way to travel to 
the international refugee assembly venue in an old run down school 
building outside Beirut, in Lebanon. 

Upon arrival everybody was de-liced, men and women lined up to take 
showers and got an oddsmelling sponge soaked in anticeptics and 
licekiller, then they were fed with a small bottle of condensed goat 
milk and some sesame seed bread. 

His heart ached seeing his two kids sitting dumbfounded in these new 
surroundings, little three year old Ahmed and the first born daughter 
Nadia, who just turned six, they were just de-liced and cautiously 
snapping bites of bread and gulping down the familiar tasting milk. 
For a child curiousness always takes over feelings of fright and 
both children peered with unveiled interest at all the people around 

There were Palestinians in this camp having lived all their 
lives there, the camp was formed in 1950. The Palestinian residents 
of the refugee camp at all having a decent job here, were forming 
the welcome committee of the newly arriving refugees from Iraq, Iran, 
Somalia, Eritrea and Sudan. A sturdy Arab dressed in a white long 
shirt was giving out orange colored combs, he screamed on top of his 
- Apply the anti-lice agent to dry hair during 10 minutes. Shampoo and 
rinse hair and comb with powerful strokes. Repeat anti-lice treatment 
in 7-10 days to kill nits that may have hatched. 

All refugees proceeded to different stations in the medical check-up 
that would determine their status as human beings ruled by a 1 to 
10 scale, starting with the top choice of such a list, a future 
contributor to society was a top scorer, followed by by more unfortunate
subjects down the line, future burdens to taxpayers. They were graded
by numbers like animals for sale. The lowest scorers were those with
limited income potential, the absolute rock bottom was the 1 point 
scorer station refugee, which meant you either lacked a passport 
or were in such a poor mental and body state that you had to remain where 
your feet stood on the planet at this very moment. A refugee´s only hope 
then would have been mother Teresa´s appearance in front of him. There 
is no hope, was no hope for the refugee low score bastards, the pariah 
of the world, so why hadn´t they been left to die peacefully wherever 
God left them? 

The Mohammad Abbas family enjoyed the last social happening offered them 
in the Eastern world. They were now to be dispersed like migrating swallows 
in a world where everybody was happy to see them go elsewhere, they were 
the outcasts, the smitten lot nobody wanted.

Upon arrival in the country called Sweden, the examinations went on. To 
think how much employment the refugees offered all these people 
administrating refugees in one way or the other! The European Union 
Immigration Bodies were a fortress, a stronghold where no Arabs were 
welcome, neither Africans of all sorts with dark tanned skins or women 
clad in veil and chador. 

The doctor in front of him peered at Mohammad behind oldfashioned 
roundframed glasses, which had shifted place and now dangled at a dangerous 
angle on the doctor´s nosetip.
- Anxiety, depression, anguish or obsessions, the doctor asked matter of 
factly and studied Mohammad even more closely with squinting eyes, as if 
trying to find a clue to where the wasp stung him.
- I beg your pardon, Mohammad said in Swedish, what was the white dressed 
man saying?
The doctor sighed loudly and repeated.
- Anxiety, depression, anguish or obsessions?
Now the doctor was stern and craved an answer.
- Do you understand what I am saying, asked the doctor, an Iraqui as 
himself putting in some extra hours for the Swedish Immigration Authorities´ 
medical team.
- I understand, Mohammad mumbled.
- I long home, he said in his mother tongue. Why was this person speaking 
Swedish to him? It all seemed senseless.

Before the seizing of himself by Saddam´s men five years ago, there had been 
no anxiety, depression, anguish or obsessions in his mind, nor that of Leila´s. 
These were however new times and new rules applied. He was to be taken care of. 
The Swedish Immigration Authorities following international standards by 
monitoring how much damage Saddam´s rule had done to Mohammad´s personality 
and ability to deliver to the Swedish state turnover. Could Mohammad be of any 
use in western industry, would he contribute to the European Union economy 
or would he be one of those in the gray zone always needing to get their 
allowance from the state tax money, compelled to live in poverty for the rest 
of his life? Would Mohammad be an asset or a burden to the tax payers? Would he 
ever be a tax payer himself? 

It would be a sure win if you choose the outlayed anxiety, depression, anguish 
or obsessions way of life. Or would it? By getting a life pension on medical grounds, 
he would not have the pleasure of colleagues at work and would not be able to have 
that special life quality deriving from being able to support yourself and your 
family by own efforts. He would not be in a position to raise his standard of 
living, not having a job. He would for the rest of his life live on declared state 
poverty minimum, barely staying alive, having electrical and water bills payed by 
the state and social welfare. Mohammad knew it was his own choice to decide whether 
he was to be a victim for the rest of his life, or if he should choose to fight 
himself back to dignity, with or without Saddam´s grinning face forever in front 
of him. As if the doctor was a mindreader he said slowly and this time he was
speaking in the Arab tongue:
- You can´t stay in the past forever. You have to move on in life, be done with it, 
forget it, see the road ahead.
Almost everybody that Mohammad met representing society in one way or the other 
would be saying these same words as if they were repeating a well red homework. 
Everybody was brainwashed in earning money in the western world. A dope like himself 
engulfed in his own misery, was no asset to any society that wanted his tax money, 
he would be a burden to the social welfare accounts, on sick leave for the rest of 
his life. Mohammad´s new status as a refugee triggered people to utter these words, 
he was an obvious threat to their jobs, their economy, their realities so far from 
his own past life back in Salal Street in Baghdad. Once he had grieved enough he 
would snap out of it, but not just yet. 

Oh yes, he had obsessions, he was engulfed in guilt for not having moved the family 
away from Baghdad earlier, they could have gotten away southwards to Basra, not so 
many suicide bombs were going off there. Now both his parents were gone in the bombs 
and all because of his own greed. Mohammad had been reluctant to leave his business, 
the night garage and the car repair shop, though a very small income it supported 
himself, his family and his elders. His reality was veiled in anxiety, depression, 
anguish and obsessions and he could feel the thoughts of Leila sweeping around him 
as a soft caressing breeze. He cried so long the tears fled from their glands, dried 
them out as Babylon´s now waterless barren hillsides. Mohammad felt himself become 
a lizard fleeing the hawks to reach some green´s and bushes above the mudhole he 
was hiding in. The minute he stopped crying the hawks would be over him and he must 
be strong then.
The first days in the new country he zigzagged between different immigration and 
employment bodies.
- There is no way you could work as a car mechanic in Sweden, the busy woman at 
the State Employment Office told him. The market is saturated. What you could do, 
you could work with Iraqui war invalids in a hospice and I think you would have a 
chance to get that job even tho you don´t speak much Swedish, of course those are 
my own thoughts, she added fast not to be reported for discrimination, - but then 
you would have to travel 300 km away from here and live in a small country town. 
Would you like that, she asked, glancing a little too obvious at his invalid status, 
half an arm less on his body after Saddam was finished with him. Would he like to 
be tending the dying, Saddam´s legacy, living in a remote town in the provinces 
in a foreign country? All Iraquis in Sweden were here because of Saddam and his 
evil reign. How many people was Saddam responsible for killing? One million, 
twenty million? What´s a life? A life could be working at a hospice for his own 
people dying in a remote place they had never heard of before arriving here. 
At least they died void of the sounds of grenades, bombshelling and rocket fire 
going on outside.
	Dumbfounded, Mohammad didn’t say a word, just stared at her. 
- Or you could maybe - just maybe - she repeated, - apply to get a carpenter 
training, the construction industry is screaming for trained carpenters, but such 
training doesn’t start til February next year and goes on for a year for the 
introductory course, and it´s now summer, so you would have to take that into 
consideration. But to get access to the carpenter training you would definitely 
have to be fluent in Swedish, how would you yourself like to work with people who 
didn’t understand what you were saying? 
	He still didn’t say a word, he was trying to take things into consideration.
- The first Swedish classes comprise three months studies every weekday and you have 
to pass the diploma, or you would get a prolonged study term up to another three 
months, she said dryly.
- Skipping school without a reason, that is if you have no doctor´s or dentist´s 
appointment, would enhail reduction of your Activation Pay, of course. If you fail 
to report to school on scheduled hour, you will not be let into the classroom until 
the half hour has passed of the decided report time and of course corresponding 
money would be deducted from your pay. Do you have any questions?
	He shook his head and felt his lips press hard together. What was this, 
the military? Allah knows he didn’t ask to be here as little as they wanted him. 
That woman´s eyes were cold as a cod´s stare. He was a paki and she was a 
lighthead and she had all the power over him. Her skin was white and she wore a 
pink top with a bra that let him know exactly where her nipples were. She looked at 
his sad face and made a movement with her hand as to whisk him away to make place 
for the next unemployed in line. He knew he must get over himself, but how? He owed 
Leila to make it in the western world. He would show Saddam who was in charge of 
his life. Thinking this Mohammad shuddered and his mind returned to the Swedish 
- In Sweden we are very fond of walking in the woods, we love nature! We love to 
gather cantarel mushrooms in the early autumn, yellowy orange small mushroom that 
are very tasty, you eat them fried in a light creamy stew on toast. And the mushrooms 
are free out there for anyone to pick. We all own the Swedish land together. There 
is no discrimination in Sweden, everybody have the same rights to their life and 
to nature, the teacher exclaimed.
	He excused himself from class and left for the bathroom, again sobbing, 
longing for sweet Leila, for her very presence, her whispering in the night when 
the kids snoozed close to them. Their love. Their world. Iraquis in a snapdragon 
game, someone was trying to catch the raisins put in burning liquor and one of 
those raisins was Mohammad.
	He had to be strong. He had to fight for the Abbas family, for Leila 
and the kids.
	After he arrived home from school, Mohammad sat right down and wrote a 
letter to Leila about the western forests full of yellowy orange mushrooms called 
cantarels, that everybody in Sweden owned together. He told her he was thinking about 
opening a night garage in a small town of Sweden where they housed all the dying 
victim´s of Saddam. Since all the people were dying there they would need some new 
blood and Mohammad figured they would welcome someone like him with a clean de-liced 
family, the Mohammad Abbas family, paki Babylonians with soft eyes stemming 
from king Nebudkadnezzar who built the hanging gardens of Babylon.

Excerpt from the novel Later year´s language lessons by Elisabeth Gyllman