Friday, October 3, 2008

Chapter 6c: The day my father died (cont)

As soon as the TV went black, I knew. But I just kept sitting there, listening to my sisters screaming. I sat there and saw Mama running down the stairs. Then down came Rashad. A moment later, when Teta came out of the kitchen and headed for the door, my sisters got up and joined her. And I stayed facing the blank TV screen.

I knew. I think that's why I stayed sitting there. I knew it was too late. I knew that I hadn't said goodbye to Baba and now I wouldn't. I knew that our lives were going to change and that the next few days would be busy. I knew that I would have to take responsibility.

So I sat there and thought about all the details that would need to be taken care of: Would the police come and investigate? Could we get the windows fixed? What other damage was there? How could we keep the house warm in the meantime? What about the electricity? What about a burial? Would the extremists let us have a service and a burial at the church cemetery? Was there any point making up a death announcement?

When I started thinking about the funeral arrangements, I began to feel irritated. If only Baba hadn't been so stubborn, maybe he would have considered leaving. He hadn't ever even let us think about leaving Mosul, but I had suspected for a while that he knew full well that his days were numbered. Did he not care that he was abandoning us by making himself a target? Oh, no, should I have tried harder? Instead of feeling guilty for talking about the threats, should I have forced Baba to do something?

Then I stood up and went out to join the family. There wasn't much to see. The front garden and gate were gone, replaced by a pile of rubble. Right outside the gate there was the frame of a blue car, what had once been our car, surrounded by a cloud of smoke and with a few little fires still burning in and around it. Someone must have rigged the car to blow up. There was no sign of Baba, but we all knew he was in there somewhere.

Mama was rooted where the gate had stood ten minutes earlier and stared at the car with her hands on her mouth. Little Rashad next to her reached up to hold on to her elbow. Marwa and Nour stood side by side behind Mama and Rashad, embracing each other, and Teta stood next to Nour holding her hand.

I took a deep breath and coughed up some dust. Then I straightened my back and marched out past my family. I walked around the remains of the car and peered into the window. Standing on the other side there was no doubt left: Baba had been in the car when it exploded. I felt tears coming to my eyes and told myself they were from the dirt. So I quickly rubbed my eyes and blinked hard a few times. Then I walked back to Mama and hugged her.

After a moment's embrace, I pulled away. I took her hand in my left hand and took Rashad's in my right and led them into the house. "We have to talk, and we have to start putting things in order," I said, trying to sound sympathetic but confident.

Mama nodded and the girls and Teta followed us back into the house.


GutsyWriter said...

Just discovered your blog. In a way, I feel like I don't belong anywhere in particular, although now I live in California. When you move a lot and speak different languages, you get to be a citizen of the world, and I love being "flexible."
I read your chapter, and was very moved. Is this from a memoir?

Katiek patrianoceu said...

Dear GutsyWriter,

Thanks for visiting and commenting! This chapter is actually a part of a work of fiction I've been piecing together on my blog, based on the summer I just spent with Iraqi refugees in Syria. (or check the announcements link to the right)

I also checked out your blog. Looks like you've had an interesting few years! In all my travels, one thing I'm finding is that more and more of the people in the world are a part of this worldwide community of people-who-don't-belong-anywhere. Sometimes it's tough but usually I love being a part of this worldwide community of diversity!

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