Huda Al Safwani
He writes from one of the poorest and most populated Shiite districts of Baghdad Al-Saddr City. He keeps his identity unknown...
Shalash is a political, social, cynical, and sometimes very humorous Iraqi writer. To ensure his safety in today’s liberated! Iraq, he keeps his identity unknown. He writes from one of the poorest and most populated Shiite districts of Baghdad Al-Saddr City.
His writing domain is the Internet. I am one of his fans. I follow his articles on blogs and websites. I read his last article and felt extreme sadness - yet could not stop laughing. I admire Shalash for his ability to retain a sense of humour in wartime, depression and great losses. He writes in colloquial Iraqi and that makes his articles far more touching, though he writes just as well in classic Arabic.
Al Saddr City is the home of about 3 million people, the lowest income segments of the Iraqi society. It's name changed with the succession of regimes governing Iraq. It was first called the Revolution City in the ‘60s, changed to Saddam’s City after Saddam Hussain – and ended up as Al-Saddr City after one revered Shiite cleric who was assassinated by Saddam.
Shalash wrote that he opened his eyes on the first day of the Eid (our feast that ends the fasting month of Ramadhan) to a beautiful day. It was cloudy and with a soft drizzle (it is definitely heavenly for any one who endured 50+ degrees Centigrade in the hellish summer of Baghdad). With this lovely awakening he expected a happy morning of the Eid as we once knew it sometime long ago.... Times when the laughter of children and their joyful voices filled the air. Colourful swings, merry-go-rounds and seesaws could once be seen filling every available vacant space in neighbourhoods. They were erected and dismantled just for the few days of the Eid amidst the appetizing smells of foods and klecha cookies from the local bakery or neighbours’ kitchens. But not this time.
He woke to people running about, calling for others not to leave their homes, to the sound of bullets, patriotic cries of defiance and pictures of the ex-President being displayed. In minutes, the neighbourhood changed to a war front. The American marines were conducting a search in Al Saddr City for an abducted person. At that moment, Shalash felt all the unfairness of the world dawn on him. He had served as an Iraqi soldier for years and thought it had all come to an end. But there it was again back in his neighbourhood, his street, his doorstep.
Poor Shalash is always cursing his bad luck. The lucky ones are not born in a country where for years, they barely live days of peace and happiness. He complained to God for choosing Iraq as his country of birth. He wrote that he would have raised no complaints if God chose any other of his forsaken lands for him. It would have made him very happy. Malawi would have been a perfect choice. There in Malawi being a miserable Iraqi orphan himself, he would have had a great chance - Madonna might have adopted him.... She did adopt baby David and Shalash has openly declared his availability for adoption by any other film star or celebrity interested.
His dry humour is a form of survival in what has become a desert of humanity.