September 28—October 5, 2015
Chicks are engraved in my memory and to some extent shaped some internal aspects of myself. They symbolized life and death at once.
Life, because through them I resisted war and escaped the political front.
I’m not claiming that as a 6 year-old I was burdened by the war or problems a dictator creates, no. I wasn’t, but everyone around me was. Everyone spoke of these evil things that are so alive and present, I avoided that evil by playing with my little chicks.
A summer after, those chicks became the embodiment of death. Quietly, they taught me what it means to die. A dictator chased my family away to the mountains. There we didn’t exactly feel free; No, for freedom my father had to pay his life. I was merely seven, and though I’ve heard about death (since I grew up in a country filled with it), I didn’t fully understand it.
As a way to distract me or just make me happy my mother brought me two chicks brownish red ones. They were older than the artificially colored chicks I was used to buying from the vender that rolled a cage up and down the streets of Baghdad.
Times were hard, harder than now.
My family and I managed to get a lower level apartment with a balcony, a balcony that looked up at the streets. The balcony I had left the cage in on a hotter than usual day. The browner one had shielded the redder one from the unforgiving Syrian sun. No good deed goes unpunished. That’s how I came to grasped death, so I cried.
I cried. For neighbors, friends, cousins, uncles. I cried for dad.
Time went on, I grew up to realize that death is not the only way one is wiped out. There’s a whole system and order made especially for wiping out individuality. A different kind of war and dictator that objectifies, unifies, commodifies everything that we are and can be.
Bangor Daily News, “Maine College of Art student from Iraq Finds Hope in Chicks”