Ghosts of Babel
Adel (name changed) is a 14 years old Iraqi. He started medication for Asthma at the age of one, he continued the treatment for 7 years. Without medical follow-up. The family learned that the treatment turned out to be Glucocorticoids after adverse effects became frequent. His family noticed that he broke his bones easily. He developed severe Rickets and Scoliosis of the spine. His back is still severely bent to the sides.
I wish I can go back to Iraq if the situation improved.
I like English and French because I will travel to Canada, USA, Germany or Japan. There are no possibility I can get any treatment in Iraq. If a bullet entered a leg, they don't know how to remove it.
I want to be a computer engineer, I have a website and I publish my poetry there.
In my Azhary [an Egyptian Islamic religious schooling system] school, they say I am an infidel because I am Iraqi. They think that because I am Iraqi, I must be Shiite. And they hit me on my back.
There are no Iraqis in my school and no one would speak to me. So, I decided to go every few days to know what they have taken.
They tell me "You are traitors, you betrayed Sadam and let the Americans enter your country." And even the teachers tells me so, in front of other kids.
The Fiqh teacher is a good teacher, he doesn't hurt me and he likes me.
My family spoke to them, but nothing changed.
The school principle drew my spine once on the blackboard, in front of everyone, because I forgot the verses in the Koran I had to memorize. He wanted to beat me, but he said I am crippled and he can't beat me. I didn't go to school for 3 weeks after that.
I wished that I told him to beat me instead.
The principle strikes the kids on their palms, 25 slaps on each. The kids cry for minutes and their hands gets swollen.
Azhary subjects are very difficult, 14 extra subject in third preparatory year.
Salah [an Egyptian] in my class is the closet of all my peers. But he stands away watching me getting beaten by others. He only speaks to me on the phone when he wants something.
I want to go there [Canada] because no one will hurt me. In Iraq, no one can get out in the streets. No one gets killed there and I don't think they will be scum. I met a few, who were good to me, in [an NGO that helps immigrants]. I wrote a story that was the best one and they are going to publish it along with other stories in a book.
I see people who died long ago.
I hear them talking to me.
The affect reality. If they touched anything, it moves.
The first time I have seen them was in Iraq. My father says I was seven when I first mentioned them.
I read verses from the Koran, but they don't go away.
My grandmother was living in the Askary quarter in Babel. In the sixties they have built houses on top of cemeteries. The bodies were down there. My grandmother and her neighbours used to see ghosts and order them to leave. My grandmother used to tell me those stories.
It is very difficult to notice the difference between them and real people. Once, one of them wanted to kill me, I ran to mother in fear. Sometimes they speak in a strange language.
My parents are convinced that I see things that doesn't exist. They once took me to a Sheikh in Iraq.
I see nightmares. I dream that I am throwing my self off a high building, a snake biting me or the same dead people.
When I am awake, I see all the things that happened in front of me in Iraq. As if as it is on a TV in front of me.
Opposite my father's shop, I saw a car stopping in front of a man. They greeted him "Al Salamo Aleikum" before they opened fire, bang bang. The car stood there for a while to prevent anyone from helping him.
More than once, I saw bodies lying on the road.