Can Iraq ever be Hiroshima?

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when hearing the words “the little boy”?Innocence? A new life? White and blue? Or maybe even a toy?

67 years ago, in Japan, “THE LITTLE BOY” didn’t mean innocence; it meant damage, pain and suffering. It wasn’t blue and wasn’t white, it was black and grey with spots of red all over the place. And most importantly it wasn’t a toy, it was the bomb that vanished Hiroshima!

It took only 60 seconds to kill 30% of the total population of Hiroshima, 90% of their doctors and 70% of their buildings were instantly turned into ash. Experts predicted it would take a city wiped off the map decades to ever be the same.

Three to four years after the A-bomb, Hiroshima rose from the ashes!

After all, naming a bomb that killed thousands of children “the little boy” wasn’t that cruel. It gave the Japanese the hope of a new start that a “little boy” can have while riding his bicycle for the first time. Each fall showed him the mistakes, which he should never repeat again. And instead of crying, he smiles and tries again and again until the day comes when he can let the winds wipe away all his painful memories as he ride his bicycle as fast as a bicycle can be ridden.

The people in Hiroshima couldn’t fight death, burns or diseases from the radiation, but they certainly could fight fear, despair and negativity. They knew that with hope and faith, everything is possible. They believed in the power of the human willingness, determination and his ability to recover. When people told them “the glass is half full”, they disagreed and refused to settle for anything less than a “full glass”!

As an Iraqi, my left and right brain sides are always in dispute.

My left side thinks we can never be Hiroshima, Iraq can never be the same, the damage can never be undone, the hurt and pain that each Iraqi carries over their shoulders can never be lifted and that we will have to live with the shame of not recovering forever. My left side thinks peace and happiness have left Iraq long ago, and he insists that they will never come back again. He reminds me every day of our mistakes as Iraqis, as a government and as humans.

And whenever someone asks me “where are you from?” he nags me to deny being an Iraqi, he screams loudly the names of the children who were killed by the Iraqis themselves, he sings the wedding songs of the newly weds who were killed on their wedding nights, and sometimes, he makes me listen to the Iraqi mothers telling their stories which always start with tragedy and end with uncertainty. And when I remind him of Hiroshima, with a voice full of rage and anger, trying to hold on to my last piece of hope, quietly he says “but we are Iraqis, we can never do the same!”

Then…just then, my right side wakes up, with his loud silence, reminding me of the days of Hulagu, when he raped, destroyed and shuttered Baghdad. The days when instead of giving up, Baghdad ran and took the hands of her history, medicine, astronomy and mathematics and hidden them inside of her, under her streets and between her walls, turning her rivers into a blue water which she later generously let us drink.

She was smart enough to know that with sword and hatred, you might be able to kill people, damage houses, or even make a city vanish! But she was sure that they could never erase our history, wipe away our culture. That the smell of smoke cannot replace the delicious smell of our tea, and no matter how bitter our pain is, we can never forget how sweet our date once tasted.

I still believe in Baghdad, in Hiroshima!I refuse to settle for half-solutions, half governments, and that Iraqis will always live with half happiness, half satisfaction and that sometimes they only get to live half a life!I still want to believe that I will not settle for half a country, I won’t get to choose between south and north, Sunni or Shia, I will never follow half a religion!And no matter what my left-brain side says, I try to hold on, as hard as I can, to the belief that my right side will always be RIGHT.

by Aya


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