Back in the 1990s I used to hate the fact that the dictator’s pictures and statues were everywhere. There were times when I wished I could no longer recognize his face, which might have made good material for the poor artists, for his wrinkles, intimidating looks and bushy eyebrows – I must admit though the guy had beautiful eyes – but for me it was more of a punch line. Isn’t it amazing that those loathsome pictures are no longer on display! Better yet, pictures of men in black turbans or other shapes of headgears – once acclaimed heroes - still exist, but have become less now, reflecting the Iraqis’ disdain of religiously-cloaked vampires, who were once revered and put upon pedestals.
The picture is never perfect though. I couldn’t help
feeling a pang of sadness by the sight of lofty grayish concrete walls
separating Baghdad neighbourhoods. Some are gaudily painted with
flowers, mismatching stripes, the new star-free Iraqi flag, painted
pictures of the marshes (in southern Iraq), palm trees and historical
ruins, and slogans encouraging unity and renouncing sectarianism - the
kind of ism that is currently linked to the people of Baghdad, the same
place that used to be a living example of co-existence.
still amaze me with their sense of creativity though. Shopkeepers cannot
afford running their businesses behind those choking blast walls, so
they collectively made some calligrapher’s day, whose business of
announcing recent deaths with neat handwriting on black shrouds might be
in jeopardy - as news reports claim violence in Baghdad is dwindling.
walls might have reduced Baghdad to the ugliest and most
traffic-congested city on earth, and turned Iraqis into tourists on
their own turf or more like video game characters, who have to guess
where the entrance to the ghetto is located or reach a challenging level
by finding their hidden mechanic’s shop, but on the other hand they
made those calligraphers the happiest of the lot – after military
convoys of course.