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(Why I wrote my story in this book "The Prison of Here and Now"?)
May be just to say: “I am not from Fallujah”
In the seventies, when I was a little Baghdadi kid, playing Hide and seek, Marbles or “The shit will leak from his butt” (It was a real game believe it or not.) I had a son of one of my 7 aunties named “Falah” who looks exactly like Richard Gear in “Breathless”, joined “The Arabic Navigation Company” and disappeared for a while, but when he came back a few months after, he was Richard Gear in sailor suit.
I learned he had been traveling all over the world. He told us many stories, about Italy, Greece and England which I forgot most of them but I will never forget his answer when my Dad asked him:
“What they think of us?”
As Iraqis, he meant.
Falah burst laughing:
“They need to know us first!” Falah exclaimed.
“Why?”, my Dad questioned.
“I don’t know” Falah replied, “When anyone asked me where are you from and when I say from Iraq they ask me again: Iran? They know Iran, but no one knows where the fuck Iraq is!”
I’m sure that we felt sorry for ourselves and our country at that time, but after many many years, after I came to the US in 1999, and after the American invasion of Iraq in 2003, I felt sorry for myself and for my both countries, (Iraq and US) when a young American, a very smart bartender, in New Years eve of 2005, asked me the whole same question: “Where are you from?”
And I replied:
And right away he gave it to me in the face:
That’s why when “Hassan Balasim” announced his idea to do this book, 3 years ago, I jumped on the boat, maybe just to say “Fallujah is just a little tiny town with a population of only 10 thousand people, while Iraq is a size of California with a population of 35 million people, 99% of them are not from Fallujah!