AT GOVERNMENT EXPENCE
It seems to me that when God had created the world in six days, he ordained that misery would be and remain the lot of the Mesopotamian inhabitants. For thousands of years, they suffered the terrible flooding of the twin rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. Nothing has affected the mind of the Iraqis like the annual flooding and the daily drinking of Araq. However, the danger of the twin rivers waters receded recently by the intervention of the brotherly neighbouring nations who stole Iraq’s waters by building up mighty dams which reduced the two rivers to a trickle. But the perennial affliction of the flood is now replaced by permanent storms of dust. None of their neighbours, not even Israel, showed any interest in that . But God has kept his word.
Spring time was always flood time. People stop talking politics and reciting poetry and talk about nothing other the topical subject of the water, how high did it rise today, how far would it go and when would they start mobilising conscript labour to support the dams. Such an emergency arose in the thirties when the angry Tigris broke the embankment at al-Waziria, north of Baghdad and started to pour muddy water, brown like a stale coffee, into the Waziria streets, threatening to drown the whole city with all its public buildings, royal palaces and old brothels and cabarets.
The officer in charge of the Sray police station received an unexpected call from the Mayer of Baghdad.’ Captain Hamid, please wake up! The river has broken into the city.We need conscript volunteers to stop it. This is emergency. Hurry up and do everything possible to bring men and save the city.’
It was past midnight and all the streets were deserted. Where could he find such men? He fretted for a few moments until he received this revelation from the Almighty God: ‘ Remember thou all the sinners of Kallachia , the fallen women and their wicked clients.’ Captain Hamid put on his hat and gathered a dozen policemen, supplied them with heavy batons and rushed in two lorries to the main red lights district of Baghdad. The old and famous brothel, with history of venality extending to the days of the Moguls , was collection of narrow lanes in the centre of the city, better known as al-Midan. The officer was quite right when he divined that it was truly the only area of Baghdad where you could find crowds of able men and women milling around, well into the small hours of the morning.
The police grabbed any customer or prostitute they found and hurled them into the lorries. Some of them went into the houses and gathered more people. One gentleman was physically lifted, quite naked with nothing on other than his vest, from the top of his woman, cursing and swearing, ‘ What country is this? A man is not even allowed to eject peacefully.’
As the loaded lorries passed by Bab al-Muaddam with the women singing and chanting, the night watchman at the point murmured painfully, ‘ What is this? Taking our prostitutes away? What next?!’ The vehicles sped on along King Ghazi Street before turning left to the broken embankment where another officer handed the men spades and shovels to dig up earth and fill the canvas bags which the women carried then on their weary backs to dump on the gap. The hard work went on for nearly three hours. But by the time the call for the dawn prayers was heard from the minaret of the Waziria Mosque, the gap was successfully filled in and the city of Harun al- Rashid was saved. The conscript labourers were utterly exhausted. So much was conveyed to the Mayor when Captain Hamid rang him to inform him of his achievement and his resourcefulness and the good work done magnificently by the men and women.
‘ The people of Baghdad will never forget what they have done. Thank them on my behalf and on behaf of the whole government.’ said the Mayor to Captain Hamd, He paused for a moment and then added,
‘ In appreciation of all this good work they did, tell the men they can fuck any of the women they fancy , and all at government expense.’