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
The wild figs on the bank of the blue river Before Iraqui blood colored the river a dark red, the sun was still making the river a yellow gold some time before the war and the killings started. You would then see wild figtrees clinging to the soil of the river banks, a lovely pale green contrasted by the sharp blueish sunkissed waters and the brilliant turquoise sky above, such a pretty sight was her country. Leila set about to collect the wild figs and put them carefully one by one in a basket she was carrying like a rucksack. The immense Euphrates river just below her made small lakes of brackish water in areas of lowland and marshes close to the river in which bass lived that the people in the area liked to fish. With all the mortars and rockets going off around the clock the fish had vanished, fled to calmer abodes on earth like did the refugees, Saddam made them a people on the run yet he had said he loved them and in the beginning they had loved him. It was the last weekend before the end of the world and little had Leila known. She had taken the bus down to visit her uncle who worked since many years with the university of Baghdad and the excursions of the olden times constructions at ancient Sippar, nnear the modern city of Yussufiyeh, southwest of Baghdad, a half hour´s bus ride away. He and his family had a small house on the countryside and Leila often went there to get the ample gifts of nature to bring back home to Baghdad. The times were now getting so bad they had to guard the crops for thieves plundering hiding in the night. They took turns sleeping out on the fields with a rifle beside them. Leila filled the basket with the riping wild fruits and sat down in the shadow of the trees by the river thinking of nothing, just taking in the beauty and thanking God all was calm, trying to relax a few minutes before returning to the uncle´s house, load vegetables onto her big basket that she carried on her head and trying not to think of the hell in Baghdad, where a bomb seemed to go off every other minute. The children were safe at home with her mother and father who lived with them and Mohammad in the small rundown townhouse beside his garage. At least nobody had started to bomb actual housing areas. Yet. The bombs and killing usually went off in market places and at bus stops where crowds of people gathered, to make most effect of the expensive dynamite and explosives. Leila often thought about the dilemma of Allah, to rectify the killings in his name by murdering all the innocent people, everyday people going about their business, trying to survive in this hellfire of lorries loaded with explosives driving into a crowd of people waiting for the 8.10 bus at the Central Station in Baghdad. What evil had the civilians caused these so called suicide bombers? What paradise would a suicide bomber arrive to in the promised life after this and why didn’t the mullas themselves offer their precious lives in such a suicide mission, why did they always send young men? The soldier who offered his life in this way would be met by virgins and he would be offered wine, the scriptures said. The fanatics were usually men in their teens and early twenties who thought they did a good thing for the warlord dressed like a false mullah, that sent them. They were convinced they did service for the beloved prophet and his Missiongiver. Great Allah, Father of Mankind. Certainly someone must be reading the intentions wrongly of a loving God like Allah. It didn’t make sense and her thoughts drifted back into the waters of the Euphrates river. She saw the white windfilled sails of many boats out in the middle of the wide streams fishing, tho the fish wasn´t there any more. Her uncle had told her that people sometimes ate roasted seagulls not to starve. Empty fishnets make a man come up with other solutions for protein, lizards taste like chicken when spiced with a little pepper, anything that crawls can be used to feed a hungry mouth, seaweed make a perfect spinach tho a little bitter to the pallate. Leila swallowed and hoped she wouldn´t be forced to eat snakes in wont of better aliments. Leila wept for herself, for the impossible grief that seized her of missing all relatives, friends and neighbours that were already dead and she wept for fear of her family and dear ones. Would they survive and what would they survive to? A lost world. Her soul screamed for Allah, the One. Her prayer was intense and full of love. - There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his Prophet. She prayed facing Mecca at dawn, noon, midafternoon, at dusk, and after dark. She fasted for the month of Ramadan, the ninth month of the Islamic year. It´s the holy month of fasting commanded by the Koran for all adult Muslims. According to the Koran, the fast was established so that believers could become more holy. This month was designated because it was the month in which Muhammad received his first revelation from God, like did St John in the Christian belief, told in the Bible. The fast for Leila began each day at dawn and ended at sunset. During the fast, Muslims do not eat, drink or smoke. Every year, during the last month of the Islamic calendar, more than one million Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca. Leila would never reach Mecca. All the family´s savings were long gone to provide food for them in Baghdad. A bag of rice cost as much as three day´s salary, what would become of the world? Leila had already planned to leave half of the wild figs she had collected at the mosque for the poor people. She dried her tears. She must be getting back to her uncle´s house, not far from there departed the bus for Baghdad. She would be home before dark with her husband Mohammad and the children. The prophet says all deeds depend on intention and all men are rewarded thereafter. What intention had a suicide bomber that Leila failed to understand? Leila heard herself wisper, - Oh Allah! Free me from sins like you have departed east from west. O Allah! Cleanse me from sins like a newly rinsed white linen. O Allah! Bathe me free of my sins in water, ice and snow. Her body and soul were prostrated in worship. The face of Allah is everywhere present for the believer.
Excerpt from the novel Later year´s language lessons by Elisabeth Gyllman