I haven’t written in quite some time . . . it’s not that I am uninspired . . . or maybe I am uninspired. . . . or maybe too much is going on and an overflowing jar has the same effect as a jar with too little . . . besides I don’t like to fill pages for the sake of filling pages . . . so I abstain.
Abstinence from writing is like abstinence from cooking . . . you need to feel the hunger to want to cook, write again . . . and I haven’t been hungry for words . . . except maybe in the past few days . . . no actually it’s been there for quite some time.
Am in the regular habit of buying myself flowers . . . some sort of ritual, if you like. And every time I go to buy some, I spend a generous amount of time smelling the flowers, I go from one bouquet to another and then back to the first bouquet . . . florists usually get irritated with me . . . but then they are not the only ones . . .
I like to take my time in buying flowers . . . I like to feel them first, establish a rapport with them through my senses, then decide . . . sometimes a particular flower calls me . . . I know it sounds weird, but I could swear I can hear it call . . . so I walk towards her and listen . . .
Some tell me—am gorgeous but too expensive for you. Some tell me—don’t be fooled by the way I look, I will wither in no time. Some tell me—am the ordinary kind but if you look closely, you will find my beauty and some tell me—pick me up as no one wants me, I’ve been in this vase for so long. And being somewhat of a flower connoisseur, I can vouch that it is the flowers that most disregard and neglect, that give off the nicest of scent . . . So I smell. I close my eyes and inhale deeply . . . allowing the petals to tickle the tip of my nose then I open my eyes and admire the shape and colors . . .
She’s been on my mind . . . she’s on my mind every time I go to buy flowers . . . every time I smell one them calling me . . . she is calling me tonight . . . she’s been calling me for the past weeks . . .
Khaleena ashem—allow me to smell . . . ashmeha shwaya—let me smell her a little . . . bas shwaya—just a little . . . she’d say in her little Iraqi accent, because she is little not more than 5 years old . . . a little doll . . . a little doll that can’t see, a little doll with no eyes . . .
She had eyes but she lost them . . . two bomb explosions, within 6 months apart . . . back in 2006, and shrapnel in her large blue pupils, made it that all she can see now is black . . . there was no way to save her eyesight then, those who wanted to save her from “tyranny” blinded her . . .
When asked—do you remember colors? she says; I try . . . when asked—what happened to you? she says; I got the evil eye because they kept telling me I am as pretty as a flower, what can I do, this is my destiny.
She loves gardens . . . her natural habitat . . . and her greatest joy in life is to be led by her little hand and have someone tell her what kind of flowers are growing . . . describe their colors so she won’t forget . . . and she’d say ; Khaleena ashemha—allow me to smell her, bas shwaya—just a little . . .
Another disregarded Iraqi child, forgotten—another disregarded flower that no one wants to pick up.
Copyright © 2012 Layla Anwar
Layla Anwar’s blog is An Arab Woman Blues—Reflections in a sealed bottle where this was first pubished.