Monday, November 16, 2009

BAGHDAD BANQUET















The Sub Title is The Soldier's Flute

By Kay Hassan

I could see, through the barbed fence,  smokes and  brown mist above the river,  beyond  the debris of the ruined world...  I could see soldiers  walking with black rifles, smoking and hitting the ground with giant boots; hitting  back  home , through the way where  we  used to play. The soldiers had white and  bright faces, and blue eyes, and  black faces shone like Mother's  amulet  stones  . They were  clean, and strong, wearing  tigers' skins with many slanting and slash pockets and  buttons and anchors and eagles. They had shining faces and iron heads- living somewhere, Mother said,is beyond the oceans  and darkness where God  once made  angels of fire. and  men of  dust ..
 " Then God told them .' Speak.'" Mother said.                                                                              
 "Danie does not speak, "  I said .
My name is Dany. Mather says."Danyal."

Then, I starred  at the muddled shadows and  soldiers in the field." Never talk to the soldiers, Dany," my brother said . I could not read the signs on the soldiers' shoulders... I could read on a half standing wall.  "Marines' Home ...Rock in Roll...Oh, Jessica, forget me not.." And  then I followed   my brother and his friends along with the wrecked wall without showing any sign of joy..

 The  soldiers  installed  many flags on the  stones and removed the ugly shredded ones  from the palm trees...  the boys  flew kites, and  bet on the kites loudly... the boys said.. "Hold on ... who gonna  fly  kites  better than me, soldiers ?" Damn no one barked then, but the big  boy flapped ,  and we  came to a sharp  halt by a palm tree. "Damn, it is falling," the big boy cried
"What?".....
"The tree ...the flag."


The palm trees were flapping, and hissing to the soldiers. We were flapping and spinning in a large circle until  some strange folk flapped   towards   the house  of the deceased man to smoke tobacco. There, oddly,  they reduced  into smokes through the windows , and  swirled with  the wind.. Then they flew  in the garrison's sky, then  we never  saw them . They disappeared  in  a narrow lane and the  big boy cried . "Run...run, Dany,  run." And  I  ran and  cried. "Ran, Danie , ran."
No one could  hear me, except Danie.
Danie never speaks.

The big boy was my brother's friend, but he is not my brother ,because he is  not my brother. The big boy had no name. He was good, and  he was kin to us. Mother kissed his head once, and, and said to him " How is your mother doing, ".The big boy can speak. He speaks like a man. He was shy and sad. He said. "I don't know, auntie." Mother gasped with a flushing look." You don't know!" The big boy murmured."  She does not live  with us."
Mother sighed, but Mother did not say anything. I thought  deeply with myself . I always think and speak  to Danie .I said  "Father never home, too."
"Father is dead."....
"What? Never say that.""...

"The big boy got a strange head." Danie says
"What?" I snapped.
." He got a black crimped hair, " said he.
 "Keep your mouth shut, " I said.
   " He got a black crimped hair, " he grunted defiantly.
"  Mother kissed his head," said I.
 "I hate the  soldiers, "the big boy said.  My brother looked restless and talked nervously. " It's  nonsense to hate soldiers ,"  said he . " Why?"  said the big boy nastily, and laughed broadly. He was not angry, because he was good. "They are bold, " my brother said.
"No, they are not," said the big boy.
"Yes, they are, You, just can't confess, " said my brother.
 I was not happy, because the big boy said. "I hate the soldiers." And  my brother said."You can't..."
I fear the growl.
                                                                     
                                                                                ***

 I was happy ,we were going back to school   but Danie was not happy because he did not like school, Danies  hid his head under the desk, and cat's like  Danie said. "Meow." under the desk.  Danie,was  under the desk, No one likes Danie  . I thought  the soldiers were good,because they had huge, clean, shiny boots and wondrous  rifles, but we had colorless, little, dirty, and slingshots. I knew all the   colors very well. Danie did not know what  colors are, because  Danie was grey....I told him you are no good. He did not answer because he has no tongue, but if he  had a tongue he would bark at the soldiers, and the soldiers would say." Speak Dany ." And I woulds say. " Speak Danie." But Danie would not speak then the soldiers would shoot me, because they think I am Danie.

The soldiers were still walking outside the fence, and we were walking in side the fence. The soldiers disappeared  behind the wall, and we disappeared inside the wall. " Get out of her dirty boys,"they said  and slapped  Danie. The soldiers were not always soldiers , but we were always  boys' on the streets. .Mother said "Dany has  stolen a hat."  And everyone said. "Hey Dany  it is my hat." . Dany  had never stolen a hat, Dany  had found a hat under the  street's dirt and Dany washed the hat and Dany  had a hat then Dany  had no hat. .

We danced and Danie ran after  passers-by.  Danie threw stones -- and  bullets rained . I could not see Danie but I could see rounds in the sky.I felt sounds better than ever, because Danie never talks when he is scared. Danie can not talk to people but Danie can talk to  me. He sees bullets but he can't touch hot  bullets.

We stopped, and  then I ran with Danie , and then I stopped  with Danie and  then approached a huge window with the boys.  I looked through the glass of the window, Danie saw a man smoking behind the glass. He thought men are made of   smokes. The man was but a guard.  Danie said. "He is coward."  It was not me.I wished to cry." It was not me."

The man got a gray map . I knew no one can live on maps. I did not ask  my teacher because I was scared. Danie did not know what  for, maps were  hung on the walls, so he ripped the map in the class.With his pistol, the man hit the gray map which was spread on a small table. He nodded to his guards, and bellowed."Damn...kill them."                                                                                                  We startled and looked at each other like morons.                                         

 He looked at Danie, with two fiery eyes; they were launching  horrible, red rays, through the glass. I looked back with frozen eyes, Danie  could holdout the man's strike and nodded to him nastily. But I knew he was shivering and melting down like a pussycat . Then he hid my face behind the boys' shoulders. Danie  was not bold, that is why  Mother was angry."Even if  Danie grew up Danie  would become  a half man," Mother said. But I am not a half man. My brother said ." Dany is good." My brother was good - Mother said he is good.He knows how to set fire, and go to the city alone.

 Grinned with a filthy gaze , the man snored through his open nostrils . He stared  steadily at nothing, We looked like rats,I asked Danie. "Why does  not he like us?" Danie ran away with the boys because Danie was scared of his snoring nostrils. " We have nothing to do here," the big boy and and  my brother agreed.Then, we ran away  until my brother and the big boy slowed down and walked as usual  across the streets of Green Zone, where scarcely we came upon a green tree..

The boys took  hold of my hand, then Danie ran across the destructed garden. Henceforward  everyone looked like Danie, Danie was  crazy,  I halted, and could not think anymore ; Danie was thinking.. And there, pitiless , the boys started plucking flowers. The flowers had withered petals ;  they were colorless, and  had no fragrance. The teacher said." Water is colorless, and cloud is water. Cloud is not  from the sky-  cloud  is from the oceans. oceans are huge seas." So the students ambushed him and shot him with slingshot.   We were nervous and the flower were crunchy and  angry ...

 I stopped plucking flowers, because Danie was angry , Danie was good.But the boys screamed, strangely. " Kill the flowers, Danyal*." But I did not know how to kill flowers, because Danie and the flowers were lying on the ground like dead twins. I had no twin."Danyal," they said nicely.
"My name is Daniel ...I am Dany... and I  listen to Danie's growling. "
Danie never listens to anyone.

And then, among-st few stray folk an old man was walking across the street, bellowing and hitting the air with a short ugly stick, talking furiously and swearing. "Out of my garden, Goddamn bastards." But the boys laughed and screamed. " He is just a fool man." And  when were certain the man was harmless they  stoned him savagely. The man halted in shock, and did not say anything. He looked furious.

 Danie was silent, I thought the man was good. But I was certain he was swearing . He said. "Goddamn bastards.Motherfuckers." The boys laughed, and Danie laughed too. I was  shy because he said. "Mother fuckers." But we were not. Mother screamed. "Get out of here, bastard." She was in the bathroom.  I went out, weeping silently. Mother yelled." Dany, don't look."

 My name is Danyal .I am  Dany.  Danie is with me. I  don't like Danie. If I were  Danie I would keep my mouth shut. Danie is naughty . The man looked for Danie. I wished to cry. "I am not Danie."
The boys showed me how the grown men are weak and hollow  like ghosts. " Dany," the big boy said. Dany." I Danyal and  people call me Dany  My brother said." The big boy is good"  The big boy said  "Dany is good"... we played like fools under the bullets. The grown man was  shocked and screamed under the bullets. "God is huge."

 Then he  stopped alone, watching Danie, and smoking to the others. We ignored the old man, and he blew  the smoke in circles . He was smoking inside and talking outside to himself . "Everyone talks to himself." I thought with myself. I do not talk.  I talk to Danie. Danie was not a man, because Danie was not smoking, Danie was no good because he threw a big stone at the old man, but the big boy screamed at Danie. "Don't! Find smaller stones, bastard." The big boy was good, because he told Danie. "No big stones, hit him with small stones." I like the big boy because he is good.He said, then. "Don't hit the man anymore."

The soldier cease fire. The boys played, and watched the old man  with nasty looks. I was struggling to say. "He talks to himself.", Danie was not good, Danie talks too much.  Danie stoned  the old man. I thought Danie did well, and excitedly screamed.   " HITHHIM." And was blundered  My voice was horrible ... Danie looked strange. No one could  understand  the growl. The boys laughed nastily , I tried to escape and leave Danie alone.I was mean. I could not stay with  Danie . I kicked  him  and left him alone because my brother was furious. I said. "Danie is not my brother." He said. "I know, Dany, someday we banish him."  .But I knew my brother could not see Danie.He screamed." Shut the hell Dany." The big boy is good he said. "Dany." I did not answer. "My brother said."Shut the hell up."The big boy said. " Dany."

My brother was furious.  I told him " I hate Danie." I knew  he would become crazy again and tell Mother.  "Dany had him died." My brother  had no father. I did not hate my brother. I hated Danie. He was screaming and I was listening . I had to listen to everyone. Danie only had to listen to me.  I hated Danie, because he was bastard, and having  me involved in  troubles.

No one liked Danie because he had got two red eyes... Mother said a red eye is a sign of curse .  I was  sad, bleating towards the boys  like a goat.  People  hit the dog, and  stoned  Danie.  My cousin Hawa was stoned to death in our old slum. Mother said she was not  good. She had sinned the capital sin. I did not know what capital sin might mean . I thought she was no good, but  she was very nice girl.  She never talked to me harshly ... the dog and my cousin waited for  the clergyman to speak out  God's rage. I could see the dog of Green Zone walking proudly with three legs in the field... dogs in this country have three legs. I like dogs.

"Shut the hell up, Danyal, stop yelling," my brother screamed at Danie.  Danie stopped yelling. My brother had never  seen Danie, because Danie was invisible.  "Shut the hell up Danie," I told Danie, My name is Dany  I told my Brother Danie is no good. " Wait a minute, I told Danie, I have not told my brother all I had known, yet." I was no good ,my brother looked furious.Danie had no tongue  to speak like others do, so they had to laugh at Danie, I did not like Danie because he did not know how to speak.
"Shut up, it is not his fault," my brother yelled at  his friends. They agreed and felt sorry for me. My brother is good he does  not hate Danie,.  Danie did not speak. The boys  looked at me again ; they felt sorry for me, and I felt sorry for them. They were good, but Danie was bastard.

I watched the  boys, but  my mother said. " Dany, you becomes better, someday."  They boys sauntered  , and bounced  on the withered grass. They had  many heads,  legs, shoes,hands, eyes, noses,and ears, The teacher slapped my face and I saw a flame of fire inside my eye. He said, "Danie never learns the names of human body parts." Then he screamed. "Danie, bring your mother tomorrow." The monitor said. " Yes, sir. Dany is no good. I'll tell his mother,  " I startled in fear , but I knew there  was no class any more, but the teacher hit my palm with a ruler thirty five times. "Yes, sir, I can say pt, eg , ey, no, mo, br." And he said." Good." I knew  Dany was good.But,he said "Dany,  bring your mother."

The boys  watched me , and I watched the boys. They called my name several times. "Danyal, Danyal. " But Danie would never talk. My brother said. " Danie...shut the hell up."  My name is Dany. The boys  said gently. "Danyal.."  Danie never talked, and I could not tell them. "Danie can not talk." But I could laugh at them. My brother said. " Do not talk. Never ever, talk." But Dany had to talk sometimes,  I thought with Danie. But latter when my brother became angry he said. " Dany never talk. Even if you were beaten." I agreed, happily-

" Was Dany  better before the war," the boys asked my brother. "Yes, he was," my brother said. My brother was good, he lied for me. I knew we have to  lie sometimes...  Danie is not  better now, he swear  at his mother silently.The boys were still laughing. I was laughing and watching them joyously. I thought they would never stop saying. "Danyal." The voice was sounding sweetly  in my ears. They said for a thousand times. "Danyal."

 Perhaps,they tried to please me. They hated Danie, . The teacher said If you are A you will never become B. I was happy, because I am never Danie , Danie is B. He can not say I am not B  , because Danie never speak, but he was  now cool because  he was laughing. His eyes were red, but he had no  tongue. "Do not make a fool of yourself,"  my brother said. He had a tongue, I said nothing.
"  Dany, 'Why we named ye, Danyal?'" Mother said. She asked Danie questions and let herself and my brothers and sisters laughing at Danie.  I asked my head, then I shook  my head."No." Because  Danie would never  speak. I am not Danie, my head said inside myself , and  I said to outside . " I am not Danie."

“ Because you are the Daniel's gift," Mother  said. She knew I would have asnwere if I have got a tongue... I had a tongue, Danie stretched out my tongue." Do not make a fool of yourself,." Mother  said
 "My tongue."
She was not happy, but she was fearless, Mother was bold. My teacher  said women are not as much good as men are. I did not say anything. Danie is no good because he did not say." Mother is good and has two  glittering eyes and a dark wet skin and  her black  hair  covers her large breasts, and she can crush you between her strong legs."

 I knew she was sad in her black gown. She was always sad,, but when a man kissed  her in the hall  she flashed, and blushed with a great joy and gasped vividly." Goddamn beast." She asked me more questions. I could see her face well. it was blushing, but she had big plumb lips and a wide mouth, Everyone liked her mouth...I thought men liked her more than women, because  they liked  to stand face to face with her.  I was happy for her. I saw several times a handsome  man  harassing her  while she was shopping. She was happy and I  was happy, and did not let Danie  throw stones..I was  too young, but I was sad, because Mother hid her pleasure, and covered  her smile by her hand. " You, again!  Bastard, " said she with a big smile, but the young man said.." You are beautiful." My father was never there. If he was there he would say ."Don't talk to Dany's  mother.."

"Dany." The boys screamed again. I was surprised, they were laughing, but my brother was still angry. The boys stopped playing on the street. We went back along the fence to where some Marines were sitting next to their tank, smoking and chattering. We approached them. They were looking scared, but we were scared more than they were..They grabbed a hold of their rifles, but reluctantly we moved towards them. I liked tanks more than soldiers. We approached steadily until stopped very close to them. They said with a raging voice. "What?" But we laughed. They gave us gums. I put mine in my pocket for my sisters.

"Get out of here, " the soldiers said. They were angry. We laughed at them. They started moving."Do not you have parents," they said, but we laughed, gazing at their leftover food.
"The soldier left,  because we scared them," the boys said. " Do not be ridiculous,"my  brother said.
 My brother was ridiculous too. I was happy because Danie was not brave. " The soldiers were scared," I was happy, as I  felt  the roaring tank tickling my legs,and  underbelly.

 My brother said. "Run."And  I told Danie ."Run." .Danie listens to me; he is funky. But, I never listen to him. "Danie, run." I said, and Danie ran. My brother was younger than me, but Danie was in my age. He was my brother. But Danie was not.  I had only two brothers and two sisters.

We ran after the tank, I knew there was a line,on which, Danie must stop before he get shot, Danie said nothing, but I knew he wanted to say. "I won't,"  I said. "Goddamn, Danie, stop before you step on the line. They will shoot me."

We stopped, indeed. "Come on, Dany, run faster," the boys screamed. But I heard my brother screaming. "Stop."  Danie stopped, I did not know what I had to do. I was about to shout. I held my head between my hands, and screamed pathetically. I was crying while Danie was looking at me like  fools, for having  bitten my hands .

There was a dog, we named the dog Three. He was the same dog of the Green Zone who used to walk with his three legs, along the fence.There was no grass. The ground was sad, and the dog was crying with real tears, He was white and black , but the ground was  colorless. My hand was dark but my feet were black like Danie, and my face was grey like Danie. Danie was not my brother, he was a genie. Danie was not happy, but the flags were happy. They were flapping on the walls like birds. I was counting the stars on the flags , but there was no star in the sky - there was only a huge sun where we were petrified  in the middle of the way, waiting for a big blow.

Startled, somehow suddenly, Danie, and I  heard a shrill scream. "Run."                                                    There was in fact, a roaring Goddamn tank, behind us. Everyone was stunned, and waited until the tank passed. Danie ran,and.we  ran . Nevertheless, we were always running after tanks; they were hurrying  faster than us.Every one was nervous, and breathing faster than dogs. And then after had been running for a while,  suddenly from nowhere, a swarm of boys emerged and rushed into the fields  like fools They were males struggling to  catch up at any cost. I could see their banners and flags, as  they swarmed and roared barbarously until  they edged through our walk where they started buzzing wasps like.all the way behind us.

 I looked back several times when they started stoning Danie. I did not know why they hated
  Danie. I was happy, for having used to the  slum- dogs' skirmishes. We split immediately into two groups. I kept running steadily while my brother, and  his closest  friends started fighting the attackers, trying their best to block the way between us.

The soldiers started shooting in the sky, we  ran faster than ever. I did not know why we were always running, but I felt it was better to run. I had an intention to scream. " Run." Danie was agree. But I did not have a proper tongue to scream, I needed some one to scream, but not Danie, because Danie could not do any better.

My brother said. "Run faster, Dany." I heard him clearly. His friend screamed "Run, Dany,  run " And I screamed. "Run, Danie. run."  I ran, and heard cruel  growls  in my ear. Everyone was screaming. "Run, Dany, run." I could ran faster than everyone, but I was hesitant and scared. They might hit Danie,  Danie has no tongue so they would hit me instead... I could not say. "Do not hit Danie."   But If my brother says. "Hit them I'll hit them."
 I told Danie." Ready?"
He nodded. "Yes I am ready."
.
I saw the sadness in my mother's eyes. Danie saw the soldiers, laughing cynically. We were happy. The soldiers were glittering. They had bright faces, white and black- blatant  under the blazing sun. They passed through a gate. And as we were closer,  the guards screamed. "Stop. " I said "Danie stop."  Danie stopped and stepped back. Danie listens to me but I never listen to him because he is mean. Danie was breathing faster than ever. It was hot, I was sweating, because we were  running. .

No, it was other way around; when they screamed. "Stop." I blocked Danie's way. We stopped,immediately. I knew why they said stop, but Danie did not stop immediately, that is why his foot touched the line. I was scared, because my foot touched the red line too, but it was Danie's fault. If they killed me I would tell Mother what Danie had done. I always tell him listen and he listens.I could remember the images of three children were fallen behind the line, so I showed  Danie the images.

"Look, They were shot, beyond this  line," I yelled at Danie, and came to a sudden halt. Nevertheless, we turned back  and walked for awhile, then turned left and started stoning the boys who were still fighting our group. My brother was among-st them. The boys  retreated and  trapped between us and a group of local warriors. The big boy screamed. "They have to surrender."  But my brother replied nervously.  "For God's sake, let them go."And then, suddenly, before  they come to a little truce, a huge explosion quaked our unhinged minds, within  the whole world.

 We were crushed. My body was  in the air. I was wobbly,  but in shock broadly remembered my brothers, and fell  breathless -stretching  on the ground with others. I  had lain on the ground slowly. The big boy had screamed. "Faster." And then  yelled nervously  "It was too late. You could have been killed. That is why we lost so many friends." Then, we crawled along the fence, and forced the enemies to keep stretching on the ground.

The guards chased some other boys. They were shooting for no reason. We ran to the farthest end of the fence, and stretched on the ground where the local warriors were still shooting. They were furious, swearing at the sun's rays of noon. We had known how cruel they were, but we had no choice. When they started shooting us real bullets we looked desperately for rescuers...screamed, and climbed the razor fence. They sprayed us steadily, until some seven boys fell down the fences. They were crying on the ground, while  the warriors were shooting and laughing upon their fear. We were  bleeding. I did not feel pain, but saw the fear in the bunch of the faces of local soldiers. They were angry and furious -and holy, rehearsing the slogans of  the shrines; swearing and spitting and reading verses loudly and aggressively.

Our hands were bleeding. The guards were angry, we had fallen down too, and  started creeping with   horrible feelings. It was just moments since we left the wounded children , bleeding, and squawking desperately. We stayed for awhile overhearing them with a great sorrow, talking together, and looking through the fence. The fence was still flapping, and we were moving away slowly. The fence stopped flapping, and no more we could  hear them groaning.
 " Get the hell out of here," we said, and  let our rivals out of the place.. They ran as fast as they could, but when they felt they were safe, started screaming and swearing.

We were restless, watching a tank's chains squeaking on the wrecked asphalt.And then as we set off , a soldier screamed.  "Back up."  We did not. We kept running, until three clusters of younger boys  emerged from nowhere, the were many, rushing to where suddenly  lingered, and lined up on the farthest corner of the street, waiting suspiciously for nothing .
"Stop, Dany, stop," said  my brother

 We stopped. Then we crossed the road to the other side, where suddenly the ground started rattling under our feet. It was ugly, and bumpy. We watched the herds, and peered at their faces, one after the other. I knew how to count, one, two, three. It was strange, we were thirty, I count, I count. Now we were not. Thereafter, I thought we lost three kids, I was shivering. My brother said. 'Stop.' I had already  stopped.

"Put your hand in your pocket, Dany," said he. I put my hand in side my pocket... it was bleeding. "It's burning," my brother's friend said. "It hurts him, his hand is bleeding," he told my brother. "It does not, he is strong," my brother said and held my hand firmly. "You'd better go home.'  said he. I shook my head, No. He looked frustrated, I understood what he felt of. Actually he would rather to say ."Mother will kill you."

"Are you happy here, Danyal, " Mother said. I did not know what to say, I shook my head - then yes. "Keep your hands in your pocket, Dany," my brother said again. He disliked to see my blood flowing. "Let him go home," his friend said. "Do not worry about those kids, Dany," my brother said,

  We had missed our tank, however, luckily a fleet of vehicles and  roaring tanks crawled through the street  slowly, It was a great relief  for both side .They ran, and I ran, The soldiers waved honestly. They were smiling, broadly, I like soldiers when they smile,  I ran faster than ever.  DANIE IS Not good.  The children ran  together in the middle of the street. I was the closest one, steadily approaching the last vehicle.

When I was almost few steps behind the last vehicle. I was not looking forward. My eyes were fixed on my brothers. I heard my brother screaming. "Dany look forward." But I looked at him again. He scrammed. "Look forward"  I looked at the soldiers, and they gazed  at me  Danie closed his eyes, but I looked back at my brother, so I did not see what they had thrown. A white- blue pack was  flying like a huge bird, sliding- then  down magnificently,far from me. The soldiers laughed and we laughed too. My little brother cried, and I stopped. My brother screamed  "Get the pack, Dany, bastard." But my little brother was still crying, I stopped again, but he screamed. "The food, Dany." I was late, and I had to run faster, Danie was not bold, he stopped and I stopped. .

 I ran again...I ran  faster than the vehicle, though had known  someone had already got the pack, I was still running. I stopped, The vehicles  were now far.  My brother, I thought,  will kill Danie and Mother will kill Dany, I had to rescue  Danie. And then the tanks disappeared behind the buildings. I stopped.  My brother screamed "Stop." Danie had already stopped. I knew, why my brother was furious. Danie did not know, but I told him, we had lost the food. Everyone was laughing at Danie I hated Danie.

I remembered my little brother. He was laid on the ground, moaning. I ran back to help him.He screamed. “Mother will kill you, rat.” I was not close to any rat, Danie was a rat. I ran back to help him. I was about to cry, but instead, carried my little  brother and Danie is good, he laid the  little body  of my brother on a wrecked terrace on the edge of a little park, My little brother was crying. My brother cleaned his face and his neck. He was too young, and had a bright soft skin. I was frustrated, my brother looked at me. "Calm down, Danyal, it is not your fault." My brother said.

We wrapped him up with my rigged jacket. I looked at him, he was right there moaning and swearing at the boys. "You could not catch up, rat. What would you eat," said he, and barely smiled . "It was your fault, I never let you come with us again, son of..."  My brother said.I wished I could say. "Don't say that."  I knew it was Danie's fault but struggled to tell them. “ We eat fish.” Because I knew Mother had kept dried fish at home, but I was certain it was not good to tell Danie.

Most of the children had gone, but some of them were still sauntering  and hanging around for no reason. They had not got anything to do. My brother's friends started gathering and lying down around us. The boy who had got the pack had already left, he was happy. We sat down there, waiting, we were starving, but the boys were talking and laughing. I was sure Mother would not forgive Danie, I told him, Danie never stop.

Lately we settled here. I did not know why. But, I could remember the furious nights, fireworks, rockets, and planes. Mother was looking into the darkness of the old dirty lane, we were shivering, looking at the flashing fire in the sky and listening to rattling ground,. And in the depth of our fear suddenly Mother screamed. “ It is the time, lets go.“ We were shocked, but  had to follow her, and walk with her to the river."What are you doing here, woman"" a local soldier screamed. "Go home, soldier...before someone kill you," Mother said.
"I said.' What are you doing here?'"said the soldier furiously.
“ The bridges are closed, we’ll cross the river," said she.
"To  hell, woman, " said he and left.
 We were frozen, but had known  she had hidden a little boat under hays and dirt on the river’s bank for her journey.

 I remembered the darkness, and the fearless woman.We crossed the river, and slipped through the guards and tanks fumbling our ways like Baghdad‘s Thieves . We were bold . She did not stop until she halted in front of a huge empty house and climbed the wall then threw herself into the yard, screaming. "This is our house."
"What?"my brother said aloud.
 She did not answer, instead suddenly the gate rattled in the wind.
Thus, we  occupied the house, and lived there ever since. The house  was so  big that Mother had to f, fight the intruders, in the beginning , brought a gun to protect us, and then savagely  kept fighting all those ,who tried to kick us out.

The boys were talking and swearing at each other, I was confused, I was restless. My brother said "Do not worry , Dany, they are joking, the are not fighting."
I was happy, waited for a long time. I could see everyone's face closely, they were different, and  had different smells, and different sounds. Everyone looked sad and tired, but suddenly I saw a little boy running and waving. The big boy nodded and creamed. "Hush, bastards." And I told Danie. "Hush, bastard." Then after awhile everyone saw the little boy, who just emerged midst the little trees screaming fabulously. "Bremer, Bremer, Bremer."
We jumped up, waiting, and watching like the brain-est dogs, Danie was a dog. I tried to smell Danie. I was confused, bleating oddly."Hush, bastard," My brother said. "Hush bastard," I told Danie.
"The little boy is running."

When he was close, the little boy, screamed. "Ruuuun, ruuuun." . We knew him, and bellowed
"Who ?"  they bellowed, not me.
" They are coming, they are on the main road," said he trying to collect himself. "Get up," he yelled at my  little brother, who immediately jumped up, and threw my jacket back to me- they were friends.
In response , my brother screamed "Run." And Danie had to run, I told him."Bastard, run."

And then, everyone screamed. "Bremer, Bremer, Bremer."                                                                      We saw a thousand mobs emerged under the palm trees screaming boldly."Breamer, Breamer."  My brother said ." Dany Breamer is a man."
"Oh, my God, they are so many," the big boy screamed.
 "Who cares. Just follow Breamer, " my brother said.
I  did not knew what Bremer might be .My brother said." Dani, who is Breamer?I told you."  I looked forward, and thought deeply, then told myself."I won't tell Danie."  I told myself ." - Breamer is a man. Breamer is better than Danie."


Emerged,out of blue, the guards covered  the streets. We were waiting on the main road's side, looking, and breathing restlessly, until the convoy came right there, passing under our dominant sights. We watched the giant tanks and bright cars, and good looking faces.They were proudly  gazing at our dirty faces, behind the windshields . I was shivering.“ Bremer. Bremer, Bremer.” The boys screamed, bleating or squawking. I felt better, because they did not look.  "They did not look," everyone said and swore strangely. I felt sorry for them.  Danie was ugly.

They turned right soon, and we ran.  We were now a huge number, running  after them on the same route.  “How many times I have to tell you, run,” my brother said. I was running, but Danie was not. I was running indeed. “Follow me, I got a plan,"  my brother screamed, all his friends ran after him, and I did too, I could not see Danie, anywhere. We ran up a little hill and out of the dull streets we ,ran faster to catch up, there rushed into a dark cool lane, and sooner  came out from the other end of the lane.

We met the convoy  again after the detour, where they were turning left. The clean windscreens became mirrors reflecting magnificently  the  sun rays of the afternoon, and proceeding in one row. We were closer than other groups. Everyone felt the reflections and the bright colors of the cars. We screamed. “ Bremer, Bremer, Bremer." Danie was around again, I told him.  "Danie, shut the hell up."  They screamed louder."Breamer."  My brother screamed “Louder.” I screamed a little bit louder. "Brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr." But I told Danie. "How many times I have to tell you you shut the hell up." Danie does not have a  tongue. Dogs have long tongues.

The guards laughed, and we laughed joyously. I ran faster snd told Danie. "Do not breath,everyone hates you."  I knew they were looking about him. I had to do my best, to get a pack of food**, and make my brother happy
"Thy have not brought these food for us," a strange boy told his friend.
"Don't listen to people, Danyal," my brother yelled when he saw them nearing to me.
 "You are not allowed to.".
 “We are traitors, " the  strange boy said.
 “It might be poisonous," his friend said.
I was unhappy,  had to listen and think...listen and think...listen and think. Danie is good. Danie  does think .

As I was trying to clean my blurry vision, suddenly, the guards flied  into the sky some  blue-white packs of  their food. They were many, bright and cold, one, two three, four and more.I know how to count to a thousand, I was running as fast as I can. None of them could catch up like Danie did, because the teacher told Danie you can be a champion, but Danie did not know what champion is because he had never learnt to speak.

 I could get my first pack , my brothers laughed. They were happy and I was very happy. Danie could not get a single pack I felt sorry for him, but I would not give him any thing, My brother screamed again. "Run faster, rat." Danie was a rat because he distracted me. But I ran faster and faster
I knew he wanted me to get another pack, and I got another two packs. Then we stopped, nothing had left. The convoy disappeared. I was breathing faster than ever, hiding three packs under my old jacket.. "Hold on," said my brother. He looked happy. He liked me but he never liked Danie, because Danie did not have anything to give. "Three packs. Wow, bastard," my brother screamed and started talking, gloriously

He gave one of the food packs to the big boy. I became furious, groaning and silently clenching my teeth. Danie could not say any thing, because Danie was no brave. He was happy, then I tried to be happy. The big boy said "Brilliant, Dany." I liked the big boy, he was good, but I did not like to give him any pack. "Thank you Dany, we have no food at home," said the big boy. I was about to cry. The big boy is good.

"Thank you both." Mother told my brothers, but did not talk to Danie.Danie is not good.
It was getting darker. We had kerosene lanterns, at home. "Oh, Danyal is bleeding." my sisters screamed together. I gave them the gum.
'Let him alone, girls." Mother said.
"He is bleeding."
"Let him alone," said she and entered the kitchen. And from there suddenly she screeched. "We need wood , rat." We ran to the kitchen and  looked at her face. She was furious, her face was blushing. I was tired. "It's getting colder, and we need wood for cooking, " she said, but It was hot, I nodded- right Mother- "A little dark won't hurt, Dan." Mother said,
 I was confused. I agreed, because I never say 'No.' I buttoned my shirt,and told Danie. "LETS GO,"  Danie  never says no to me. We moved toward the door, then we went out  together. I was happy. "It is getting darker," I told Dainie.
"Who cares ?" Danie said. I was happy because I was not alone.Danie is good Danie said. "Lets go." Danie is always with me.
……………………………….........................***
It was getting darker, and colder, I was whispering into Danie's ear,on my way .Dany had two ears, I can count to a thousand.."Stay close."  I had to find something to burn. "We got to get something to burn." Mother said.
I tried to say "I know, Mother." But the voice was terrible.Nevertheless I tried then  to say."Yes, Mother."  She laughed at the  voice,Danie was not good. But Mother's eyes were glittering. Her dark face glittered for a moment, she had a clean face, and very dark hair. She was brilliant. My brother was awesome, Mother took my brothers’ faces in her hand and kissed  them, she was smiling, but she never did that with me because Danie was dirty. Mother never let them going out at nights, but she says at nights." Danyal, we have no wood."And I say."Danie, lets go." Because I am the oldest one. I knew she loved me. Now, I laughed and ran under bullets, and turbulent wind along with roaring tanks, but I had to run .Danie  was hidden himself ...and I said nothing.

Walked under flashes of explosions and lights of vehicles, they were roaming everywhere.We were looking for tires or woods on my way, and everywhere.  Danie was blind. I was hungry and tired, running and hiding myself in dark spots. Roamed streets and searched parks and under debris of walls and buildings, until I was entirely exhausted and fell asleep on a broken bench was set midst debris of a destructed area. .

Startled and I woke up  suddenly upon the squeaks of a hundred children running under the dusk. Then soon they came across the street, I looked for for the guards, and wondered if they would help, but I could not see any. They kids were approaching in on me. I lifted myself up drowsily , but I was terrified, and cried . “Run Danie, run.” Danie was still asleep.

They followed me, I was drowsy, tried to go back home, but they cut closed all the ways. I was frustrated. My feet were weak and shaky, therefore I fell down, it was too late for escaping. I saw them around my head playing and screaming. “Come on, rat. Come on, rat." And then started Kicking my head.

They were screaming, and spitting, I was alone and they were many, I knew Danie had fled, because Danie was coward. They hauled me for awhile, and  harshly started bashing my head. I was under their feet.  I  was laughing because I did not feel any pain, so they kept hitting  me desperately  until they heard a tank jolted and halted on the street. They startled and looked back with studded eyes.However, instantly  they set off and a away, leaving me on the ground in fear..

A soldier screamed loudly ."Hands up." And  aimed at my head, I lowered my head down on the ground protecting my eyes by my hands, then crept for awhile, until I felt I had to run to find Danie. Danie was not good. I ran alone, the soldiers  laughed. I saw bullets and flashes around my feet. I fell down, hissing, and creeping. But, I had to keep running. "I got to run till I get back home," I told Danie. "I ran"  But the soldiers  followed me. I ran all the way and turned around some huge mansions, and ruins of destructed houses, through fearful streets and little lanes, until I found myself in front of our house, and I said. "Danie stop."

Everyone was  there, waiting for me, they were dark shadows on the steps, I could not look behind, they kept asking me. "Where have you been, bastard." And then  Mother screamed loudly with tearing eyes. “God, take him back. I do not want this monster.”

Then, she screamed louder, and lifted her hands up beseeching her God. Mother, then clutched my neck, she was furious. Danie was shushed up. I tried to find some words, thought, easily might flow on my tongue, but Mother did not look at  my tears.  Danie was not good, she thought, however,  things then changed suddenly I could hear soldiers' feet behind me. The dark faces turned  brighter sand  clear in the lights of the vehicles. My sisters and brother, stood on the black marbles, I know the colors' names, they   looked brighter than ever. The light of the vehicles hit their faces. My siblings  were sluggish and  drowsy, I felt I destroyed the whole city of Baghdad. I felt sorry for everyone. I was guilty, but I wished they could  hag me.

"What do you want?" Mother asked the soldiers boldly. She was rude and aggressive. She let them searching my pockets. I was scared, because I knew they would find a broken, dirty  reed in my pocket. I  had never told  myself . I never told Danie,I never told any one else.  I like to blow into the  reeds ...I thought reeds got tongues. " Sorry, Madam. It is a flute, we were looking for something else," one of the soldiers said, and smiled kindly.
“ He does not have a tongue, anyway.” Mother said.                                                                               He did not slap me. He looked at me and smiled kindly again.
"It is a wonderful flute, " said he.

His face was clean and shiny. I never forgot his deep eyes, and kept remembering him forever. I could tell Mother, I made it by myself, but she told the soldiers again ."He does not have a tongue."       " I do," I wished to scream. Danie who does not have a tongue."                                                            . Mother was wearing black, she was brilliant and cruel, the soldier looked at Mother's sleepy face gently. The soldier was starring into her black deep eyes. My body jerked shivering, I was looking at both of them impatiently.
"All right," the soldier said, and gave me the reed. He tapped on my shoulders gently. I thought we understood each other very well.

 Furiously, Mother snatched the reed from my hand, and crushed it with shoes, in front of the soldiers . I saw the soldiers leaving in peace. We waited for awhile, looking at them pathetically . Then, suddenly, Mother pulled me by my hair.  I followed her easily.
"You must tell me the truth," she screamed. I thought Danie is doing we; he never tells the truth. I wished I could say. "I am tired, indeed.."
"I knew you wont come back tonight, I should not have let you go out, rat,"  Mother said and started scratching my face -screaming and bashing my head.And it was nearing the dawn, when my brother screamed. "Stop it, Mother, stop it."
 I was stretched on the ground. I did not feel pain. I worried about Mother, Mother  said loudly. "God, almighty, take him back to your treasure." She was angry.
"Stop it, Mother.Stop it, Mother," my brother said...my brother was good.

I knew God  will take me back, someday. "Take him back . Take him back. Take Danyal Back."   I thought angels might help God, and looked up unto the ceiling, they have not arrived yet, but there was only a  twittering soldier  out side. The ceiling  was bright and smooth , there was no holes or cracks on the roof. I could not look at Mother's eyes, she was furious and beautiful. I felt I had hurt her.  I crept on the ground silently, until I touched her feet,. They watched me with stunned eyes. I knew they were shocked. Mother stood still and let me touch her feet. They were watching me, suspiciously . I was creeping, then suddenly I started kissing her feet fervently, and crying silently. She stopped hitting me and started weeping bitterly. Mother was good.
……………………………….....................***
"We got to go." My brother said.
"Your hands are weird, son, so gray they are?" Mother said.
 Mother was weeping. I did not know why Mother was weeping, Mother was weeping silently.  I remembered, when my father was hitting her Mother was sitting in a corner of our only room, crying loudly and swearing at her father, and screaming at me. "Bastard."
"You got to go  to the kitchen,Danyal, " Mother said.
" I do not have to eat," I nodded to her.
She was starring at me with her glistering  eyes.
"You can not run, Danyal, " My brother said.
 He looked so kind and so nice that I wished, I could embrace him strongly.
My brother was good, and younger than me,and smarter than me.

Mother only counted on him.
'It's frozen. It looks like a piece of ice," my sister said nicely.                                                                 She was hugging my hand.
"Who brought the food yesterday?" Mother said. She looked magnificent, I smiled shyly.                   "I kept this much  for you, Danyal," Mother said. I could not look into her eyes any more. I felt my tears flowing on my face, and thought Mother could see my tearing eyes.I covered my eyes.

We were silent. Every one was silent. Hence started having my breakfast, and enjoying the tastes of every piece with my tears. There was a nice marble bench in the kitchen, I sat on. The trees out side were not there anymore, we had burnt them. The wind was rattling the windows. We were silent, everyone was silent, but the world was roaring, and the sand storm had already erupted.
"Keep your hands in your pockets, Danyal," Mother said.                                                                         My hands were not bleeding, anymore, but I responded meekly and hid my hands.
" It is not cold, Mother". My brother said.                                                                                                    "Take care of your brother, Danyal,"

 It was a dirty day. I was crying, silently. We were on the  main street. Actually,  had climbed the fence first."It is better," my brother said. It was better than walking all the way around the buildings through the lanes just to get the street behind the fence- opposit to our house. We ran on the yellow grass, then walked together, on the rattling grown. Mother did not let my little brother come. We met someone walking, he was in hurry, he was scared. He looked frustrated, so he walked faster. My brother looked at his watch. He had a large round watch-I found it for him last year, I did not when. It was a nice watch, I had not got a watch yet, because I was not able to talk to people. "We have to run, Dan,"  My brother said.
I was happy, the wind was crying, and I looked flying in the air, the wind was hitting my face, it was not fresh or cold, But Danie was cold and wet. We were alone again it was not cold and it was not hot. We were alone again,my brother said."Run." Aand I said. "Danie run," and Danie ran.
"Run, faster." he said, and I ran faster.

When we crossed the main road, again, we saw one of my brother's friend, then we saw the big boy, then we saw two other boys. "We saw Bremer,"they said.                                                                        "We are sons of a holy branch," said one of the boys.
"Closer to God," the other on said.
" Who is Breamer?" they said.
I was anxious to scream." He is a man."
My brother yelled." Shut the hell up, Dany." And I said." Shut the hell up, and wake up."  The big boy was eating...his friend had given him a large bread .My brother took a tiny bite. I did not eat, Mother said . “Never ever eat with other people."  So never ever I  ate with people. They had been waiting for us, then we walked together. They started talking, I was very happy. We arrived the park. Everyone was waiting for us.They bellowed." You are late." And the big boy said."No we not. It is too early, man."

 A little boy ran across the dead garden, he was too young.I worried for him.Then I saw his eyes in the grey light.He was weeping. I remembered my little brother, but my brother told Mother. "Never, ever, send this little lizard out with us." My brother was good. I nodded to my brother. "Look at him."
He said. "Calm down, Dany...we take care of him."

The others started singing, only some of them were singing. I could see  flapping trees, and  soldiers in bright uniform, beyond the fence, playing basket ball. They took pictures of the dead land. It was not dawn, it was late. They took more pictures, I got a picture of myself, we got a lot of pictures, Mother had a picture with a strange man. Mother said."I can't keep this one."   My brother was nervous. I could not understand him. My brother talked to the  big boy. They were nervous, screaming at each other strangely.
"You stay here," my brother said, and I told Danie. "You stay here."  I looked at them...they were restless. "They are furious, Dan," he said, I looked at the boys. "They might hit you, Dan," said he. "They are going to knock you down." my brother said. I thought the big boy has told him.
" They said, you got a lot of food last night, and you have been eating alone all the night, and they saw you roaming, at  the night, alone.'
 " Do not let them approach you, if they attacked you, knock them down, one bye one, I know you are brave and strong and you do not like to fight, but they will hit you. The big boy tries to help us, do not hit him. He is kin to us."
I was happy.

When they attacked us, my brother screamed."Danyal, hit." And we stuck together, fighting. My brother had a lot of friends, they did not like to  hit him, they halted watching.
"If you got to look at me like that, you are not my friend," my brother screamed.
I knocked down the first one. He fell down,screaming on the ground, his head was bleeding. I squeaked, in my strange way. It was a God's gift. They shivered and halted, and I squeaked louder. Frustrated, they stepped back slowly My brother put his knee on the boy's chest. He was weeping on the ground.
"What have we done, bastard?" he screamed.
"I don't know," the boy squeaked.

They others ran squeaking, looking for stones and we left the boy there, moaning on the ground. I was sorry for him .We ran and hid ourselves by the debris of a little concrete wall, and waited there, watching them regrouping . My brothers' friends had disappeared, but after a while we saw them with the big boy sneaking  behind us. My brother talked to them. "We got to fight together." They said. "And have to share everything we get. Tell your brother." They said.
"Deal?"they screamed.
"Deal," we said ." Deal."

My brother agreed.  They lined up with us behind the concrete. We got plenty of stones.
The enemies were approaching until they chose their defense line. They had collected heaps of stones. We started fighting until noon, when suddenly, we heard a lame child screaming behind us."Bremer, Bremer, Bremer, Bremer." He had seen some tanks, on the road, behind our site. We replied screaming. "Bremer, Bremer, Bremer, Bremer." The kids stopped fighting and we stopped too. Then they squeaked. "Bremer, Bremer, Bremer."

And then, we set off running along the road. My brother's head was bleeding. The big boy screamed "Who smokes, boys, I can stop the blood." But my brother, replied.
"There is nothing to worry about, run." He was still bleeding, but kept running and shouting. "Bremer, Bremer, Bremer."

We got into a wider street, my brother said " Stay here, do not move." We stayed silent, listening to our breathe. "You know what Mother might say," said he, and looked at me for awhile. He was scarred.  " Danyal," said he loudly. " Stay here. Do not move. I'll get it."

 He was still bleeding, while the big boy was trying to help him, but my brother was nervous. Then I watched them running across the street. I didn't have anything to do. Danie pushed me  to leave, but drop of rain crushed on my nose, I said. "No Danie."  And  looked unto the sky, and watched the dirty- cloud floating darkly above the smoking city.

It started sprinkling, and I did not know what to do. My brother said. "Stay put." I looked at the trees - they were petrified too." Rain is good,"  they said. I like to run. I like to go far. I like to tell Mother. "I'll run away and never come back." I startled.

Mother was cooking. Mother turned her head, and ragingly bellowed.,"God, take him back."  I did not know what to do. I was by myself further down the streets. The ground was wet, and I was all wet looking at Danie in the rain.  Danie  was doing nothing, because no one was around, He was  wet like a bird in the rain. I liked to be a dog running by myself  like a  man, barking. "I am none of those things you are." But Mother said furiously."Shut up Danyal, and lick your charms. " I kissed my dangling charms. I thought of my genies  and forgot Danie.

Danie was not good, now, I could not tell him my things. "Someday, I will leave you alone," I said. He was crying.." I said don't cry. You are not my brother."We talked and never stopped talking.
I was still fighting with Danie, when a strange vehicle came to a sudden halt, right there on the street,
I said "Stay put, Danie."  I was alone, standing in the rain. My brother had told me."Stay here." And I told Danie." Stay here."  And he stayed there.

Mother said. "Never go  with strangers."  I only walk with my brothers and sisters and  and the big boy. "My cousin," Mother said. "Ran away with strangers."   Danie ,I can not trust. I saw three soldiers walking towards me. I said." Danie, stay put, they are strangers."  Two of them stopped, but one of them kept walking. I was starring at him fiercely. I was not scared, because my brother said "Stay here. Do not move." Then I was scared, but I did not move." Danie, stay here; he is a stranger." Danie moved back a little further. I told Danie." Stay were you are.He is not a stranger. He is a man. "

I readied to show him my best element... shivered in the rain. "What is wrong with you,  man," the soldier said and smiled nicely. I knew him immediately. He  was the same soldier who found the reed in my pockets, and said. "It is a flute." But it was not, because Mother broke it in front of him, and then killed Danie.  Danie lied on the ground and kissed her feet. Mother had let me have my share in the morning  and said, "Danyal,  eat."

The soldier stopped very close to me,and said." What is wrong with you, man?" Danie had hidden himself, I said." Thank God, Danie is good." Through two blue precising eyes, kindly, the soldier starred at me for awhile.I know I remember, in the funeral of my cousin, Mother,told a woman."She had two black piercing big eyes."  Then the soldier stretched his hand and put in my hands three packs of food. He was still watching me. I could not take it, but Danie yelled. "Take it." So I took them., danie was looking at his face, I was restless, trying to stay calm, and working out how to hide the food in my old jacket. "Holly molly,"Danie shouted, when slowly the soldier produced a magnificent shiny silver tube, murmuring in my ear. 'Flute, flute, flute'

The bright metal glistered  in the rain, when gently  the soldier's lips touched the metal. He breathed deeply  and started playing magically, in the rain. I looked excited like Dany flying in the sky.  I  told  Danie. "This is a flute. flute, flute.Don't break flute, flute, flute."   In sky I felt myself flying in the air,  dreaming of a tongue of the flute, flute, flute, and singing silently for the soldier.

The soldier looked at  my tearing eyes. The soldier could not see my tears in the rain I saw his bright eye glowing with  the sound of the flute, flute, flute. I wished I could scream."Brother." I had  the same feeling when he had aimed my head with his gun, last night.And then, the soldier took hold of my hand, and  relayed the flute, flute, flute into  my hand  with a broad smile, whispering. "Play. This your flute."  I tried my best  to murmur. "Flute."
"Play," said the soldier.
 I tried to say. "No." But he said ."Play."
 I played, and said. "Danie, don't play."

 The soldier looked brighter than before.The soldier said many words, and the soldier said said."Dany.".And then walked away, and left  me  in the rain with the flute.
It was just a moment we stayed together, then the soldier  left. I hugged the flute. He looked back  twice,and said."Bye."

  The world was flapping, and  the soldiers were flapping. I hid the flute  under my coat and stood still. My brother said."Danyal, stay here." And I said." Dany, stay here, and listen to the flute."  The magnificent sound was still flowing like a magical wind,above the streets and lanes. I was worried about the flute.I told Danie. "Don't touch Dany's  flute, " We were  still waiting in the rain.

It was nearing the evening, as the day light begun  waning under the horizon.  I saw my brother walking by himself, empty handed. "Everyone has gone," my brother said. He sad, and I was sad.He was  starving.But, we walked together. He was sad, and nervous, swearing at the soldiers. I nodded to him "Don't " He looked furious.Then he said aloud.." What? They were shooting." I thought they were scared. We walked slowly, then  as was getting darker, we started walking faster.

 "Walk faster,  You are not even tried,"my brother  said. He was angry, actually  was about to cry. I came to a halt and laughed loudly, I knew how to laugh aloud. My brother screamed."come on, bastard." but I did not answer. My brother bellowed with a cruel grunt. "What?" And looked at my furiously.But, I had already prepared to surprise him. He was stunned. I showed him the packs of food. He screamed. " Bastard." He was laughing and screaming joyously .
"What have you done?" he  said kindly. We were happy, but I was sad because I hid the flute and could not tell him.

“It is going to be  dark, soon,“ 'm y brother said.
“Run.” He said.
"It was my fault, Dany, I know, but I can not protect you always," my brother said.
"Do you understand me?" said he.
I nodded. "Yes."
He was  brilliant, but I was awkward and clumsy, walked always several  steps behind him,
 My brother was lying down  on the only couch which we had not sold yet, and I took the food to the kitchen. My brother yelled. "Danyal, take the food to the kitchen." I took the food to the kitchen.
"He already- did, "Mother said and came cross me, with her hands in her pockets.
I tried to avoid her and walked towards the stairs.
"Have you got any thing, boys?"' Mother said, and suspiciously starred  at my strange carriage.
 "Yes, Mother?" My brother said.

My sisters were playing  and dancing. They ran after me, and hugged me -while was ascending the stairs, and grunting oddly.Then yelled at them  nervously to leave me alone, I was anxious to play in my room. "You stay right here now, Don't go anywhere."' Mother yelled.                                                I was still whinging.
" Shut the hell  up, Daniyal,"' Mother said furiously.
Startled,  I stepped  backward, tying   to balance myself before fell down.At any rate, finally I rested on the floor. They laughed with stunned  eyes, Danie was not there, yet.
 "Shush."' Mother said seriously. "'Hold on, hold on."...
 "He is tired, Mother, "my brother said, nervously.
"'Hold on, what are you hiding , bastard?"  Mother said.
My little sister came closer.
"What  have you got for me, Dany?”  said she.
“Search his pocket, freak'n girl,” Mother screamed.

My sisters tried their best . I was on the ground though, did not let them searching my pockets.  "Come closer, Danyal, " Mother said, and pulled my hand. and walked me  past my brother. "What are you  hiding?"' Mother said.Mother was raging and I was starving.My vision was blurry."I'll show you ,bastard," Mother said, and went to the kitchen.

My brother was still  lying on the couch. He whispered. "Calm down, Dany."
I looked at him with  beggars' eyes, but he did not look back. Mother  grabbed a hold of a metal rod, she screamed. "Show me, your hands."
I said. "Danie. Danie." Danie did not answer. Then I said. "Danie, you are not my brother."
 "Leave him alone, Mother, " my brother said..
“Danyal, I won't beg you," Mother said.
"Let him alone,"my brother said.
"He hides something,"  said she.
"I do not care, I do not care,"' my brother said nervously.
"I do care," Mother said.

 I was mincing my  words. They were laughing  maliciously. Mother was desperate  Mother started beating me randomly, and crying ."' God take him back."'
"'I'm hungry," my little brother said. .
"' Danyal, hands up," Mother said.
I was  certain, Mother would never give up.
" Son of his Goddamn father," Mother said.
"Mother!" said my brother.
"I would never let him rest in his grave," Mother said.
"He is dead!."my brother said.

Father never came back. I felt sorry for him. I said. "Danie. Don't step on his dust."And Mother said.
 "Hands up." Mother startled me so violently that I forgot the reed, and showed her my hands. The flute slipped out and fell on the floor. I heard the sound, and saw the flute  rolling on the tiles. Then I heard nothing else except Mother's screech."Oh, my God. Oh. My God."
That was the end, I saw the reflection of the flute and Mother's glistering eyes..

 They  jumped to snap the flute, looking  at each other with shocked eyes ...followed by a short halt.
 "Tell me the truth. You did not, did you? " Mother said loudly .My brother waited for my response. I  begged him, and told  him the whole  story with my hands. I said. " Danie, you are not my brother."
Danie craspped my hand.. "I'll never come back." Danie said.
"Shush," Mother said, when someone pushed the front gate violently. Mother ran into the kitchen, and sniffed  through the window. There,   she  yelled. "Back off, bastard, or I will kill you."
" Why did not you lock the door, Danyal?" Mother said.
"Give me the gun," Mother bellowed.
“Are you gonna kill Dany, Mother,"  my little brother said.
“Shut the hell up. Latter , latter,"Mother whispered.

I grunted. "Danie." Danie does not have a tongue, nevertheless, suddenly my brother knocked him down. My brother hates Danie. My brother screams. "I hate you. You lied to me," said he. My brother was not good, but I kept looking into his eyes, trying to tell him the truth.
"Danie had stolen the flute," I nodded, and  showed him with my hands his eyes.
.No one likes Danie. My brother laughed loudly. My brother was good.Mother was silent. I like my brother. I was happy again.

I wept for my flute. Danie was not good. I said. "Danie, why did you take  my flute?" Danie laughed and went away.  "Let me try, Mother, " my little brother said. Mother looked at me, she was beautiful, I wished Danie was dead. Father was dead. I said."Danie, don't step on his grave," Danie said. " I won't."  Danie was good. Mother looked at me.I lowered my head and touched the floor with my forehead.Mother said. “ Danyal is hungry...Dany is eat....ing."  I was breathing the hot air of the kitchen.

  I was bleating, tasting  my salty  tears. I said. "Danie." Danie ate, but everyone snapped "Shush. Danyal, and get out of here. " And I said " Danie, get out of here," They  started having  their dinner. Mother was restless. Mother said." Go to your room."And I said." Danie go to your room ."

I went up to my room, and sat on the bed with Danie, looking through the window, and watching with my tearing eyes the flying rockets in the sky, flashing, and  pulling dazzling halos in the sky. I was not scared. I had my room; we had many rooms I lied  down next to  Danie on my bed.. Mother said. "I sell Danyal's bed." And I said. "I sell Danie's bed." But  I could not sleep until it was too late..

Since the day, I  lost my  nerve to sit in the living room. My brother said. "What is wrong with you, Danyal ?" I did not say anything, but kept going out with him, hunting food - and eating nothing. We ran everyday after tanks and vehicles, crying on the streets, and repeating our slogan for a luck hunt-which we had learnt from a little boy. I was always looking for the soldier who gave me the flute, but I never met him again.
................................................................***
On Friday night, Mother said "Wash the dishes , rat." I looked at Danie...Danie was not there. My brother said."We have no water." Hence in response Mother shouted savagely. " Whatsoever."  Mother did not look at me, so I left her shouting at herself. "I don't care. Let him bring water." Mother said. Mother did not look at me. I was  upset and  ran to hide myself upstairs. Mother screamed." Danyal."...I did not look back...grunted loudly."No." and rushed into my room, and
 locked the door. I hid myself under the bed, and hey kept knocking at the door,screaming for a long while. "Danyal, Danyal ...Danyal, Danyal ...Mother will kill you. Mother will kill you. Mother got a gun ."  I  covered  my ears with my hands and kept groaning . "Danie., leave me alone Danie. You are not my brother. Leave me alone."  Until failed to rub the sleep from my weary eyes,hence then,I fell asleep... a deep sleep, dreaming of flutes and Breamers.

I woke up after midnight, and stealthy walked to the bathroom  past  Mother's bedroom. It was a silent night...the world was dead, and had a color of peace, because, I thought,  everyone was asleep.But, sooner, in the dead of the night, I heard  whispers behind the door.I halted and then hesitantly  put my head against the  cool timber of Mother's bedroom. "But where is it?" Mother said nervously. I was still  faint and drowsy though, tried my best to hear the whispering ghosts. At least finally  I could distinguish the word Flute, flute, flute. And at some point my brother screamed. "I sold it for a good money.  How many times I have to tell you, Mother...I sold the flute ."

My whole body jolted, and stopped  breathing.Then felt I was frozen inside my head." Give me the money. No one knows what happens tomorrow," Mother yelled insistently.
" I will, Mother, I will, I will?" said my brother.                                                                                      "We need money, son. I need money, " Mother said loudly.
"I told you, I sold it, I sold it,"  said my brother angrily.                                                                  
"I need money. I need my money, " Mother said.
"This your money  but  take care of  Dany? "said he.
"He is your brother, too," said she and laughed maliciously. "He needs nothing from this world except his white  shroud."
"You are terrible, Mom ." said my brother
"I am bleeding, but no one understand me,"Mother said and started weeping.

  I ran back to my room, and looked for Danie. "Alas," I said. "Danie has gone." I knew Danie had stolen  the flute,  I said. "Danie, you are not my brother. I'll never speak to you."Then  I said with my clapping hands." Danie, shut the hell up. You are not my brother."

The silent night was fearful. I was listening to my pain, until was nearing  the dawn, when the  flying rockets started hitting  the city. The world was flapping.  Danie was  under my bed, I thought, he was under my bed. "I said.' Danie, speak, why we  never speak?" I touched his heart he  was wobbly and faint. I said."Danie, are you done? I know what invisible means, brother ."

 I heard my brother's steps walking the corridor several times.  He went to buy a shroud for Danie  I knew Mother was now killing  Danie , because he was not asleep yet. Mother said. "Danie has no  shroud."  I was sad because Danie had no shroud. Father died in his shroud and my cousin died under stones. The big boy said . " Bastard. You can't stone a little girl with big stones."And I told  Danie. " Bastard, don't  hit the old man with big stones."
 Mother said. " There, we stone Devil with little stones."

 I went downstairs to the kitchen, moaning, and murmuring  words I had learnt lately, however, when I was stuck in my head,and  stopped remembering the rest of the things, I started hitting the wall with my forehead,and then  broke the Mother's mirror, and threw  her make ups on the stairs, and then savagely ripped her sachet, and said. "NO."

I was insane a bit . I heard screams outside the walls hissing with shrill voices. I was insane.Everyone thought I was.Mother's  doctor said." Danyal is not fool.He listens to voices inside his head." But  Mother's long beard mentor whispered ." Flog  them with a hundred stripes." And looked into Mother's eyes, and snapped." He listens to genies, woman."

The voice said.  "Come on. Lets go ."  I told him. "Hey,  where are you going." Danies said  "I am dead... I am leaving." I yelled in fear.  "Why are you leaving, Danie ?" Danie did not say anything because Danie never spoke. I looked through the window. I could not see anyone, but he  showed me fires, and Bremer  who was throwing  bullets and rockets in the sky. I used to wat them joyously from my  window. I screamed." Danie, Bremer is damn cool."

Some houses, anyway,  were flattened, I could remember the flute again; it was cool, I tried my best to tell Danie everything.  Danie had no place to hide the flute. Danie was not good.The bearded man said. "Danie is a fruit of Carnation. That is why he talks to genies. " Mother became angry and cried."Fear God, Your honor ."  I headed toward the main door and ran away. Mother said."What is wrong with this place, Danyal."

 Mother  was asleep now. I looked forward. Fires were violently fighting the sky. I was frustrated.
I heard  owls' hooting. It was late. I felt something pulling me down, as was ascending the stairs slowly. I opened the  gate, and hit the fresh air of the darkness with my face.
"Climb the fence," my brother said. I climbed the wall.
 " It is a shortcut, Danyal," my brother said..

I climbed the wall,and then ran as much as I could.. It was cold, and dark. Fires were flapping , and reddening  the sky. Lights flashed above the city. My brother said "Never sleep outside." I looked back, to see if he was following me or not. I could not see anyone except my shadow.
I told Danie. "It'd better  climb the fence,"  I had already opened the gate, and crossed the our lane and climbed the fence, then we ran and ran and ran.

 We walked under the dark palms where they were hugged by the withered moonlight like a tent edges . I tripped and drowned into a ditch..It was another dark corner of the world.  Mother and a crowd of  heavy feet walked across the street. I was scared. No one was out except the  three legged dog, and the  nasty little creep Danie.

I walked with my shadow; it was stretching to the end of the street. I felt the weight of the long  shadow. Hence   my legs started shaking with a nasty influx of pain. I halted several times, and then  sent Danie with the the three Dog to find a shelter. And when, they  found a little shade, I lied down on the wet grass. My brother said "Danyal, don't sleep outside." And I said." Danie, don't sleep outside." And Danie said " You, three legged dog, don't sleep outside."I could not let Danie. yelling at the three legged dog. "Danie, don't yell at the three legged  dog .This is his kennel "
Danie agreed. Then I said. "Danie how long have we been sleeping?" The three legged dog barked barbarously and lied down on the ground, before  a horrible explosion shook the whole world.

The blast  ripped my belly and crunched my ribs , I touched my body, and looked around unconsciously, I was lifted  up and floated oddly. "Wake up Danie, wake up, Danie,"  Mother said. "Alas! I had no angels on my shoulders."The bearded man said." Bastards have no angels." And mother said."Fear God." But, the old man said nastily." You  have sinned, have not you?" Mother was silent, but she gasped, and spat on the ground, and  I saw many houses burning.


  We were still lying down on the rusted grass, when some huge gangs swarmed into the streets,  screaming. "Bremer, Bremer, Bremer." And then when they looked desperate , started  stoning  the windows  of the houses, and cars. Nevertheless , it was not a right time for such cruel squeaks.  Even I was not certain why they were screaming.
"Danyal, stay away from those nasty little creepy wasps, " my brother said
 I hid myself, until they disappeared in the darkness of the night. The three legged dog ran after them for a while,  then, he came back with a low a groan until  lied down next to Danie.

  I left the shade, and sauntered lazily...feared , in fact,the boys might come back, until oddly the wind pushed me aside. I struggled and  dragged myself back onto the street, and snapped." Watch up, Danie."  I was , however, familiar with the streets and lanes.The view  was getting clearer and clearer middle the wailing crowd. I was swinging, and bleating awkwardly. "Mother.Mother." And when  I saw  the  fire  devouring the wreck of the house, and roaring like the old man's rage upon  Mother's fear ...Mother lowered her head for him until touched the ground. " Woman. Fire is your destiny. 'Indeed you have disgraced Him.' "

I rushed into the fire, but the soldiers held me back, and pushed me through the lane to where
 my brother's friends had gathered. And then to stimulate me, mourning , they  groaned with a very sad tone. "Bremer, Bremer, Bremer." Then, we stood face to face gaping, unaware what to say. I felt we were in need to some mature  hypocrites.

 I tried best to reply,but  squeaked  and  reduced into  tearing eyes, all the same. My tongue, anyway was stuck to my palate. They hugged me and screeched." Run, Dany, run."  And I ran after them for awhile, then stopped, but they did not.

I sat on the street curb gazing at the burning house until noon. Danie had not come back yet.I had to move... walked slowly and edged between the fallen walls, climbing the remains of my family, looking for eyes and bones of my brothers, and sisters, but I could not see a slightest traces of  them.
The fire brigade officer had told the neighbors."No one was here."

 I stayed there till the night fall. I saw many shadows slipping through the darkness and stealing the burned marbles, taps and and black remains. I did  not mind......
They were nice to me, " Danyal,  take this,"  said they  and gave me  small pieces of bread.
 I waited for Danie for a long time and when I became angry screamed at him,"Where are you,Danie."....
He did not  answer.

Danie was not good.  Mother said.
" If I married, don't tell Danie," said she.
 Danie broke her mirror....
Mother said. " Do not tell Dany, we have to leave before he wakes up."
I could not trust Danie because he is a lier  .
Mother said."I have married a very rich man." ...
Then she  said. "He gave me a word to find  the best men for your sisters."
"Are you serious ?" My brother yelled.
"He said, girls must not wait." said she
 " For God's sake Mum!they are just children."
"You do not know woman's stuff, son," said she and laughed filthily.
"Oh, my God," said my brother and wept bitterly
" You never learn what women can bear," Mother said trying to calm him down
"What about Danyal?my brother yelled.
"I don't know...I don't know,"Mother said and burst into tears.
 I closed my ears, and could not hear anymore.
Then everyone said. "Danyal has gone."

Farewell
Danyal sits by the river of Tigris,bidding them  a farewell, then weeping for the awful night of May 2003 - dipping his shaved head in the murky stream to hear the flapping of trees and  whispers  of Mother,and his siblings, murmuring  clearly. “Father, Bremer, Mother, Bremer, Brother, Sister, Bremer."  There confusedly , upon the roaring world, Danyal  collects stones and  bid himself and Danie to run on the streets to stone vehicles and  passersby.

The End.

*Daniel

** MRE




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