* 4 min
2014 last day
As I started to write this blog at work on the last day of the year, I turned back to look through the window. I looked through to the horizon. I see Baghdad, yet I am in America at the same time. I pause. I think about it. I think about my life. My brain is mixed with thoughts of joy and pain. I see walls with a few gates that separate two different worlds, and I am part of both. It is very difficult to fathom. I live on land that is under the full sovereignty of the U.S. Government with different rules and values, and outside the wall is Iraq. I started to reminisce about my life and my entire 2014. My brain transcended me in the cyberspace of my thoughts shuttling between the past and now – a far past and now.
I remembered my childhood twenty five years ago, and how I spent my new year’s eve. I use to spend my new year’s eve in a church. We (Christian families) came from many different areas and met in a small church in downtown Basrah. We gathered in the early evening hours at the annexes. Families brought their favorite dishes. We socialized, ate, and played many social games – happily and safely.
At around 11:15pm before the last hour of the year ends, we went inside the church. I vividly remember sitting on one of those faded brown church benches separated by red carpets. We spent the last hour in prayers. We welcomed every New Year with eyes closed asking for blessing and protection for our lives.
I was between those believers. My eyes were closed, as the hour passed my life took the quantum leap from one year to another. With the passion of a teenager, I prayed to Melchizedek. I thanked him for his blessing. I thanked him for keeping my family safe through wars. I asked him to protect and bless me in the coming New Year. I (we) prayed for peace and prosperity for Iraq…for wars to end.
We welcomed the New Year. We stood praising our Lord. After that, as a group we left the church and visited families from one house to another, wishing happy new year to each other. We lived free under the safety of Saddam’s dictatorship, because people felt safe to walk and drive at night. There were no fireworks; there were celebratory shots fired into the sky. This was the way of expressing happiness and celebration.
Present time…late hours of the Eve
It is my third year in Baghdad. I am celebrating New Year’s Eve at a place called Baghdaddys, which is a bar inside the embassy. I am with friends and co-workers. People are drinking. I am drinking whisky. The music is loud. I am mingling with the crowd holding my glass in my hand. I am having fun.
Baghdaddys serves as a church on Saturday, but a bar during the week and that reminded me of the old days when I celebrated New Year’s Eve at the church. My buzzed brain is mixing the past and the present. I am not praying this time. But I am drinking and dancing…inside a church…weird….very weird.
Much later in the Eve
I was buzzed and remembered the wall…Baghdaddys and Baghdad…two worlds apart. A dictator who once stood protecting it from evil is dead. I thought of my old prayers…our prayers.
“Did God answer our old prayers?”, I thought.
Killings and explosions are the fireworks of this country. Basrah and Baghdad are empty of Christians. Up in the north, Christians are displaced in tents by an evil – ISIS.
As I am drinking, I am thinking about my Assyrian people and their suffering. They are in tents in the mountains. They will walk in the mud to greet each other – Happy New Year’s eve. Churches are blown up. And all they are praying for now is for the snow not to fall on them.
Those prayers for Iraq, what happened to them? Did we really know what we prayed for? Back then; we didn’t see Saddam as a blessing.
Did Melchizedek ignore or answer our prayers? Did he turn his face away from us? And after all this, Jesus asks me to love my enemy? Who ISIS?
Sorry Jesus…It stops here. Our Assyrian Nation is being massacred. It is a modern Holocaust happening right before our eyes. Where the fuck are you?
Twenty-five years ago, we were asking for peace and prosperity, now we have evil.
Mid night Eve
I was more buzzed at Baghdaddys by this time. I went by a group of friends. I stood there. Again, greeting smiling and joking. We were having fun. People were discussing different subjects, others were sitting by fireplaces. We were cheering and picking on each other. These were simple jokes that made our night.
“Is that a real Rolex?” I said to one friend.
“Excuse me?…Yes…My wife bought it for me…Should I walk with the certificate in my pocket?”, he said
“No…but if you are next to a beautiful girl…People will believe it is real, because you got a beautiful girl on your arm”, I said.
The Rolex and the wife became a topic for a few more jokes.
Everybody being buzzed, we laughed about stupid jokes like these.
Counting down and jumping around…Screaming with joy, we welcomed 2015 dancing to the sound of music, drinking. We hugged, kissed, and wished each other a Happy New Year.
I turned to my friend Muhammad and I said, “Happy New Year brother…Here..have some Black Label…”
“I don’t drink brother, but do you have some Chai Label instead?” he said.
Between buzz and drunk
At this point, I was really gone. I was walking to my room laughing to myself, laughing out loud. My friends who were sitting outside our building about 300 feet away heard my laugh.
I was laughing about the irony of this life.
I looked up to heaven trying to talk to God:
“Thank you for everything…
Thank you for all the pain…Thank you for the suffering…It is Maktoob on us…our Assyrian Nineveh to fall…to go through this pain…They are suffering for carrying your name…
You didn’t stop it.
But, please give my people peace in their hearts. Be there with them.
My people need you…Humanity needs YOU.
People lost faith in you…I lost faith in you. You became just another legend…Melchizedek
Humanity is ripping itself apart. Everybody is claiming their exclusivity to their own version of YOU.
All this chaos is because each one has a franchise in YOUR business.”
Next Day Jan 1, 2015
The next day, I was walking to go eat. Some people stopped and said to me:
”Thank you for the Black Label last night man”…
After I finished eating, I stood taking my tray back…Someone looked at me and smiled and said “thank you man.”
I guess I was going around and passing out drinks to everybody.
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