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
Oh fleeing night, oh eye, canst tho see my sorrow, feel my grief? She lost consciousness as the explosives went off around her, she had just gotten off the crowded bus in Baghdad on her way home from her uncleīs house at Yussufiyeh and was shoved onto the middle of Salal Street by all the people deboarding, which probably saved her life. The much sought after wild figs were scattered to the ground smeared by trampling running feet. She had spent the better part of the day gathering the fruit by the riverside on the country, where her uncle lived. The center of the explosion was actually on board the bus, to the rear. She had been close to a killer riding on the bus, maybe he had been sitting beside her, maybe she had absentmindedly looked him in the eye. Leila remembered a feeling of despair just before the big bang, the sky was a purple pink with yellowish high streaks of clouds over the desert horizon, just before the bus on its shaky journey entered Baghdadīs dusty streets, death was called for by nature itself. She had thought about the sky looking like that, it was all those colors veiled by a blackish shine, as if someone was covering a torch, the sun died, the devil was over them. Leila woke up lying in the midst of the dead bodies, people screaming at the top of their lungs around her. In a daze she felt her left temple where blood was trickling down her face, a stone deriving from the explosion had hit her. Breathless she ran towards her house just beside the busstop and saw the walls had tumbled down, there was no house. The dust was just coming to rest and Leila knew her parents might be under that pile of rubble. Two small contours crept out of the shadows, both her children lived, Nadia and little Ahmed were alive. But where was Mohammad? Where were her parents? Were they all buried alive or had they been struck by the explosives, bodies mutilated, no longer human, shattered by the ferocious explosion. Gone from this world forever. She was an innocent citizen of Iraq riding a bus to bring home wild figs for her family, how would any suicide bomber justify killing civilians? How could any suicide bomber claim to be acting in the name of Allah? They must concede they were the devilīs allies. Within her Leila called for help from the Great One and he gave her strength to stand up on her feet and walk. She didnīt know and there was nobody to talk to, dead bodies shattered on the ground. Leila took her children by the hand and walked thro alarm and chaos, trodded over deformed corpses that didnīt look human any more, stumbled over trees pulled up by their roots, screaming hysterical people were now running to and fro and the hooting of cars made the scene unbearable for all senses. Soon sirens of ambulances drowned all other noise and fire brigades tried to put out the ferocious fire set off by the explosion, a thick smoke made Leila and her children cough, fighting to get air, rubber tires were burning on the many cars on fire. She tried to shield off the horror sights by covering her childrenīs eyes by her hands, but struggling sometimes on all fours to get over more piles caused by the explosion, she used her hands for balance and Nadja and Ahmed knew all too well what had happened. If there ever was hell on earth this was it. If Mohammad was gone, what would she do? She started crying, beside herself with worry, the faces of the kids were distorted by the horrendous happenings around them, Nadia kept screaming, - mama, mama - tho she was walking beside her and the little boy tried to climb on to her but she couldnt carry Ahmed, still a baby, she had to keep her arms free to fight their way to get away from the fires that started to blaze, the heat and the smoke. A few blocks away they sat down resting with their backs to a wall at a street where there were no people, everybody was heading for where the war was going on now, a terror of a war that took place anywhere on earth, any time, the enemy was ever present. Leila felt warm blood trickling down her face from her wound and was too exhausted to do anything about it. They sat clinging to each other in the pitch black night, a mother with her two small children. Eventually the children fell asleep and Leila must have dozed off. She was gazing into a kind face as she woke up, and a man dressed in a priestīs clothes was talking to her. He reached out to get her to her feet. - Can you walk, he asked. When she nodded, he continued: - Here, come with me to the mosque. He took the boy in his arms and Leila grasped the tiny hand of little couragious Nadia and they walked towards the mosque. Tears were streaming down Leilas face again and she held her darling girl Nadia in her hand, clasping it so fiercely the daughter told her mum to loosen the grip, she was hurting her. - Whatīs your name, the helpful stranger asked as they walked. Leila told him and she was numb with sorrow and sadness as she went on telling him she thought both her parents and her husband were killed by the suicide bomberīs explosives. She whispered in his ear not to upset the children. The Abbas family were un unlucky lot. Mohammad had been tortured in Saddamīs prison tho he was totally innocent to all they accused him of having done. He was to have used his night garage as an assembly point for the dissidents of Saddamīs rule. He should have planned to extradite Saddam and some of his closest family from this world. Nothing could be more crazy and untrue! Mohammad was a simple car mechanic going about his life to support his family and the elders. Once the Iraqui population were freed from the beast Saddam Hussein and his death squadrons, another hell was bestowed upon them with the religious battle between the two Moslem main directions sunnite and shia. The shia moslims comprised only 10 percent of the Iraqi population but were cleaverly executing their power by way of devoted suicide bombers, brainwashed by relentless men who called themselves Godīs chosen, effective in escalating war and violence only. Where was the love of Allah and the prophet? What would they be doing on judgment day? Some day they would be accountable for their deeds standing before the Judge of the Universe. Shia say they adhere to the teachings of Mohammad and the religious guidance of his family or his descendants known as Shi'a Imams. The sunnite larger part of the Islam faith, believe in Allah the creator of the universe, and the words and actions of the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad, those religious actions that were instituted by Muhammad during the 23 years of his ministry and which moslims initially received through consensus of companions of Muhammad, and further through generation-to-generation transmission. According to some opinions, sunnite faith in fact consists of those religious actions that were initiated by Abraham and were only revived by Muhammad. The sunnite represent the branch of Islam that accepted the caliphate of Abu Bakr due to him being chosen by Shurah. They accept an Imam, a church leader to be head of state and head of religion simultaneously, the Moslem State. All true lovers of God know that both shia and sunnite are breaking the laws of God in their blodshed and fighting over who has the best right to call themselves followers of Allah. In the Holy Koran the 38th verse of the 42nd Sura refers to the habit of consultation between all believers. It says: Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular Prayer; who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for Sustenance. A suicide bomber is sent by someone. A suicide bomber has a master and it is not Allah, the creator of the universe. Why would Allah kill the ones he created? Why would Allah kill the sons and daughters of Muhammad? - God have mercy on their souls, the helpful stranger said and Leila knew he included the suicide bombers in his blessings. - God will not have mercy on the bomberīs soul, she shouted. - God will not condone killing of innocent people. The merciful Allah will send the bomber to hell, how could anyone kill another human being over if he likes to follow Abu Bakr or not, she went on. - Allah knows his ways and they are not for humans to ponder about, the priest said as any priest would anywhere in the world, lacking reason and common sense in his religion. No loving god took on responsibility for the killing, neither Moslem nor Christian. - Allah is not a killer, Allah is the ever merciful, he repeated and Leila sobbed and sobbed. The man sat her down in front of him with the children clinging to her, a woman all veiled in light shades of colors came to Leilas side and wiped the blood away from her temple, she gave the children and herself drinks of water and bread and goatcheese and they ate but little Ahmed fell asleep spread on Leilas lap. The priest started to tell the congregation about Abu Bakr, reciting in his pious way, just to calm them down. His voice was low and loving for he was talking about how his God came to be known by people like her and himself. - This is what we know from the Holy Koran. Abu Bakr was born at Mecca some time in the year 573 CE, in the Banu Taym branch of the Quraysh tribe. Abu Bakr's father name was Uthman Abu Qahafa nicknamed Abu Qahafa, and his mother was Salma Umm-ul-Khair nicknamed Umm-ul-Khair. The birth name of Abu Bakr was Abdul Kaaba (servant of Kaaba) and when he converted to Islam in 610 he was named Abdullah (servant of Allah) by Muhammad. Suyuti relates through Ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi's report from Aisha her description of Abu Bakr: "He was a man with fair skin, thin, emaciated, with a sparse beard, a slightly hunched frame, sunken eyes and protruding forehead, and the bases of his fingers were hairless." By all standards he was beautiful, and for his beauty he earned the nickname of Atiq. He was born in a rich family. He spent his early childhood like other Arab children of the time among the Bedouins who called themselves Ahl-i-Ba'eer- the people of the camel, he developed a particular fondness for camels. In his early years he played with the camel foals, and his love for camels earned him the nickname of Abu Bakr, the father of the foal of the camel. It is said that he didn't worship idols since his youth. When Abu Bakr was 10 years old he went to Syria along with his father with the merchants' caravan. Muhammad who was 12 years old the time, was also with the caravan. Like other Arab children of the time he was illiterate but developed a fondness for poetry. He used to attend the annual fair at Ukaz, and participate in poetical symposia. He had a very good memory. In 591 at the age of 18, Abu Bakr went into trade and adopted the profession of a cloth merchant which was the family's business. In the coming years Abu Bakr traveled extensively with caravans. Business trips took him to Yemen, Syria, and elsewhere. These travels brought him wealth and added to his experience. His business flourished and he rose in the scale of social importance. Though his father Uthman Abu Qahafa was still alive, he become to be recognized as chief of his tribe. Abu Bakr was assigned the office of awarding blood money in cases of murder. His office was something like the office of an honorary magistrate. Abu Bakr was an expert in genealogical lore and he knew intimately who was who in Mecca, and what his ancestry was." When the man quieted down, Leila was calmed by the long monotonous reciting and sad no more. Leila carried her children to a large quiet room in the mosque where they rested together with more suffering victims, all women, children and elderly. Wounded people, victims from the latest bomb in Salal Street, they were laying all over the floors and busy nurses were tending to them running to and fro. Everybody were whispering in the house of God. But the weeping and sobbing sometimes were highpitched and then calmed down as everybody fell asleep, at least seemingly rested their weary bleeding bodies and souls. War in Baghdad. Leila and the kids were right in it. During the small hours of the night Leila heard American tanks patrolling the streets outside the mosque and she felt safe in Godīs abode. But nothing stopped a suicide bomber from entering this holy house. Everybody was killing everybody these days. Someone had an interest to create chaos, not to let the peace come that everybody was dreaming of. She must have slept and was woken up by more whispering voices praying. She felt life was somewhere else, she had ceased to live even tho she could feel herself breathe and her two children were clinging to her like little monkeys. But the children were alive and she was alive in this ocean of grief. She heard the local munshid in the tower sing out the Name of the Great and listened to him recite the Koran. - Allahu Akbar In the name of God, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. Praise be to God, the Lord of the Universe. The Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. King of the Day of Judgment. You alone we worship, and You alone we ask for help. Guide us to the straight way. The way of those whom you have blessed, not of those who have deserved anger, nor of those who stray. May Allah protect thee from the evils of the enemies and the plots contrived by impostors. - Lord, if Thou wilt, Thou canst forgive our sins and manifest Thy Grace. If Thou wilt, Thou canst punish us and thus display Thy Justice. Therefore, be graciously pleased to make Thy Pardon easy for us. By Thy Forgiveness, deliver us from Thy Punishment; for verily we have no strength to stand against Thy Justice. There is no deliverance for any of us, save through Thy Pardon. O Most Independent One! Lo, we, Thy servants, stand before Thee; verily we are in great need of Thee. Amen. As the pious munshidīs melodious voice died out, the world was still. Dawn was breaking in Baghdad and the distant sound of guns going off made Leila shudder. Oh fleeing night, oh eye, canst tho see my sorrow, feel my grief?
Excerpt from the novel Later yearīs language lessons by Elisabeth Gyllman