Farewell my Mentor
He was the man who taught me about mankind and animals, love for the homeland, freedom of women, freedom of mind, science and bravery, crimes and society, and bravery itself.
He taught me how to play chess and backgammon. He opened my eyes to see things were there in front of my eyes but I couldn’t see. He was my first mentor. He taught me language (Arabic and English). He taught me sciences (physics and metaphysics). He taught me religion (heavenly and pagan) and history (the written and the actual). He told me there are two sides to every story.
The story started when I wasn't done with my homework while my sisters and I where staying at my grandmother's home, and she wanted to take us and visit her friends. It wasn't that I was careless, nor was I lazy, but I just didn't like to memorize things without understanding. What use would it be if I memorized this poem or that, especially when the poet has died centuries ago. I had hard time to recite Qura'an from my memory. I was too young to understand and the teacher wanted us to memorize.
I carried the book with me and promised my grandma that I'll try my best to memorize. It was a stupid idea then because it inspired my grandma's friend to sent me to her husband to help me. I didn't know him then. He was just the old man with bended back and scary voice.
That old man was funny and friendly that I forgot that he was even older than my own grandfather. He started with some jokes and riddles to attain my attention that time flied by and we had to leave but I wanted to stay even after I had memorized the ayat from Qura'an and even some funny verses.
We made an agreement that whenever I have to memorize in religion class or Arabic class, I would come to him. Later we made it regularly two day's a week visit. But when my parents were busy someday and couldn't pick me up early he helped me to do all my homework that later on it almost became a daily visit.
We used to study in the visitor hall and when they have visitors we would study in the living room. Sometimes we would sit in the garage or the garden for change. He would even talk about gardening and climate. He was one of those people who had encyclopedic knowledge. He was a true philosopher who came from an earlier age. But alas, his granddaughter was too young to appreciate him. And all he needed in his age was to speak up his mind and pass it to the next generation. Luckily I was there.
He was a communist and that was a reason why he ended up spending many of his young days in prison. But even there, he turned the cell into a classroom where he taught Arabic lessons and I believe some of his wisdom.
After I stopped the lessons, which I don't really remember why, was it his age or my age? Was it the uncomfortable feeling I detect from his family? (Because they had to be home) or whatever it was, I used to call and ask about him every now and then. Then I didn't recall him that my mother used to remind me to call him and get him a gift on Teacher's Day. By and by I even forgot him.
After the war his daughter used to come and visit us. And before I leave Baghdad I went to visit but he was sick and I couldn't see him. Later I heard that they were threatened and they left their home to Basra. And just today I heard he passed away. I feel I'm a careless student because I didn't keep in touch with him. The other day I remembered him and I wished if I could tell his wife that I want the books he left and the hundreds of notebooks he used to write. His grandsons and granddaughters were not that interested in his writings or his thoughts. But I thought it would be silly because I haven't talk to them all this time and they left their home to Basra, not sure if they had the time to carry all those bulky books.
He used to teas me and say "a girl in your age, what do you know in this life? Name three things… just three… I bet you would say: read and write or sing and dance" I used to add "I know how to play violin, I know how to draw" and he would laugh at me. Even his laugh was scary but I got used to it and I used to look at his wrinkles and think "oh my God! How old is he? I forgot that he's that old" He was with Nazik al Malaika and Badir Shakir Al-Sayab, they were in the same class. They were dead back then and now he joined them. May he rest in peace.
Here's why am I writing. This was my very frist real post.