- Iraqi Armenian journalist and engineer Ara Ashjian bids
- I write these words while I say good-bye to you, my beloved
Baghdad. I say good-bye while the pain and the grief tear my heart and
fill my essence and feeling. You are the city which embraced my father
and other Armenians who survived the Armenian Genocide in 1915 and provided
them with shelter and means of living and comfort. In you I was born, grew
up and finished my elementary, intermediate and secondary studies in the
Armenian Private School.
- Also in you, I dreamed and had my first childhood love
in school. I graduated from the school, where I was ever superior, to enter
your College of Engineering from which I had graduated as a constructional
engineer to serve you through my specialty and to engage in your reconstruction.
Then, I joined the compulsory military service during the Iraqi-Iranian
war and completed my postgraduate study in 1988. During the study, I loved
an Armenian young woman, who was a student at the same Department and broke
off my relation after years, because she had left you and immigrated to
the unknown world. After invading Kuwait in 1990, I served in the Army
as a reservist and went out of it after the end of the Second Gulf war
- In you, my beloved Baghdad, I practiced activities in
the Armenian Diocese and cultural associations and Iraqi cultural forums
by giving lectures on the history of the Armenian people and Church, the
Armenian Cause and interpreting the Bible. I also wrote articles, worked
as a journalist in some of your newspapers and worked in the Embassy of
Armenia, till the members of the mission left you before the US-UK campaign
to invade you began in March 2003. I worked as a lecturer in the University
and this was my history I made in you with great efforts which I was proud
of and I dreamed to tell my children about in the future while being in
- However, everything in you has changed, my beloved Baghdad,
after you are afflicted with wounds and treachery of the friends and enemies
from each side. You are bleeding, death is spread everywhere in you not
excluding anyone and life became unbearable and kind of madness and suicide.
You lost means of living and all kinds of public services.
- Despite great difficulties I faced in you that lasted
for more than a quarter century, beginning with the Iraqi-Iranian war,
passing through the UN economic unjust sanctions and the invasion, I remained
adhered to you like a baby adhered to his mother. However, I now may have
lost patience and the ability to withstand after all my family members
and relatives have left you and I remained alone with my sick mother and
brother. Under these circumstances, I do not find anyone who aids me in
taking care of them and the atmosphere around me is depressed and sad.
So, I was forced to think of what I didn t think of before... I thought
of separating from you, leaving behind my history which I made in you through
long years and beginning a new history away from you.
- However, my sick mother did not wish to leave you. She
told all around her: I wish that my son bury me in Baghdad before leaving
the city. She wanted to be buried close to my deceased father to be loyal
to him even in death. She also felt that her sick body would not endure
the hardships of the long way away from you. Her wish was fulfilled and
she passed away fifty days before leaving you. My deceased mother faced
her end fearlessly and even she had prepared the new clothes that she would
wear when being shrouded years ahead! Your soil, my beloved Baghdad , contains
now the remains of my beloved precious mother, beside the remains of my
father and sister that will increase the pain of being away from you. I
kept taking care of my father, sister and finally of my mother during their
well-being and sickness and they all passed away satisfied with me.
- However, what will relieve my pain is that I am leaving
you to beloved Yerevan, which is in my dreams since my childhood, but you
are the beloved city which lived in and with me. But, from now on, the
situation will be reversed; the beloved Yerevan will be the city where
I ll live and you ll be the beloved city in my dreams. Your wounds will
heal; you ll restore your charming image and will remain in my heart forever.
- The last place I visited before leaving you, my beloved
Baghdad, was the site of the house I was born in the street of your Colonel
Abdul Karim Qasim. He led in you the 14th of July 1958 revolution against
the royal regime, declared the republican regime and led Iraq for less
than five years (1958-1963).
- I took a long look at the site of the house which is
now a private hospital and sat in a restaurant in the opposite side. I
ate my launch there to spend more time looking at the site, although the
restaurant was not offering my favorite meals!!
- I remembered, my beloved Baghdad, what my deceased father
and mother told me about the circumstances that surrounded my birth in
this house. My birthday (November 8th 1960) came across martial law declared
because of the unstable political and security conditions prevailed in
Iraq then. My father was standing in the street in front of our house at
late night waiting for a taxi car to take my mother to a hospital to give
birth to me. The Colonel Abdul Karim Qasim, who used to return from the
meetings of the Cabinet after midnight to his house opposite to our house
in the street that bears his name so far, passed by. He asked my father,
whom he knew as a neighbor, about the reason of waiting in the street at
that late time of night. After knowing the reason, the Colonel ordered
his guards to take my father and mother by his own car to the hospital
where I was born in the six o clock in the morning!
- Taking a look at the site, I also remembered my childhood
and youth years I spent in this house for more than a quarter century.
My family sold the house to a group of well-known doctors and surgeons
who erected a new hospital at the location of the house which became a
widely known private hospital in Baghdad.
- Good-bye, my beloved Baghdad These are the most difficult
moments in the life of your pious son; the moments of separation from you.
I ll miss you; miss your immortal Tigris River, my home and life in you
and the kindness of your people. I ll keep praying for you so you recover
your health and bloom. During your history, you proved the calamities and
the difficulties did not ever affect you and you were soon rising to take
your fitting status.
- Good-bye, my beloved Baghdad, you are in me forever despite
the distance that apart us.
- Separation from you is difficult and bitter. May God
help me to bear it.
- Good-bye, my beloved Baghdad
- By Ara S. Ashjian
- Baghdad, Iraq
- For http://www.karabakh-open.com/