Day 3 : What we find
Updated: Sep 15
A short story series about a couple living in Kurdistan in 1996.
On day 3 of the military lockdown in Hewlêr, the date is the 3rd of September. Operation Desert Strike has just been announced. 27 cruise missiles from the USA are to be launched towards Kurdistan. Zana and Hebah find comfort in each other.
“If you could be doing anything right now, what would it be?” Zana asked. They sat in their dark kitchen, the power had gone out again and the only light came from the candles lit around the house.
“Hm, I’m not sure.” She knew the answer; with her children boarding a plane. But Zana asked with a sense of genuine tenderness, he was asking the same way he did when they were young trying to learn all they could about each other.
“I know what I’d be doing.”
“You, me, Auzin and Rauna pack up the car and drive to Duhok.”
“Mm, set up our picnic near the mountains.”
“Or close to the stream and just sunbathe all day.”
“That sounds nice.”
“Yeah, it would be.”
“No it's just I was thinking about what Auzin asked when he was younger, about the popcorn.”
Zanas' lips stretched into a smile as the candle light glimmered over his face
“He said ‘Mum, if I ate a lot of corn seeds then lit my tummy on fire, would the corn pop inside me?’”
“I’m still not completely convinced it wouldn’t.”
“The kid has a curious mind, experimental thinking.”
“Maybe he’ll be a scientist one day.”
They smiled at each other.
“Pour me some.” Hebah said motioning to the arak bottle. Zana poured some into a glass for her and topped up his own. They drank together and shared a cigarette.
“I want to show you something.” Zana said as he got up and walked into the garage. A moment later he re-entered holding a record player and a single Vinyl.
“Where’d you get that from?”
“Bought it from the market a few weeks ago, it’s from the 40s' I think, still has a crank on it. They didn’t have many good records but I managed to find one you might like.” He set up the player, placed the record on the turntable , twisted the crank then placed the stylus on the vinyl . It made a slight crackling noise before Je cherche un homme began to play.
‘Je cherche un homme, un homme, un homme’
“Eartha Kitt!” she said, gleaming with delight.
“I remember you used to love her when you were at university.”
He walked over to Hebah, hand outstretched, asking for a dance. Hebah took his hand and got up, they embraced, her head on his chest, his cheek resting on her head. Standing in one spot they swayed amidst the glow of the candles.
A moment later a humming noise rumbled through the house before all at once, the electricity returned. The lights flashed on as did the television which was tuned to the news station. A well dressed news anchor sat by himself in front of the camera, beads of sweat visibly gleamed off his forehead. Speaking frantically he said;
“As promised the American government has delivered what they labelled ‘heavy force’ in retaliation to Saddam and the KDPs’ seizure of the Kurdish city of Erbil. Today America launched Operation Desert strike, firing 17 cruise missiles from the U.S. Navy surface warships and an attack submarine by the name of the USS Jefferson City. Targets were hit in and around the towns of Iskandariyah, Tallil, Nasiriyah and Kut.”
Hebah walked over to the television and stood in front of it for a moment before turning it off. She walked over to the wall and did the same with the lights then walked back to Zana, took his hand and resumed their dance in the candle light.
“Let’s go to America.” he said. She stared up into his eyes, hazel brown and warm and kissed him.
‘Pourvu qu’il donne son maximum,
Je cherche un homme, un homme, un homme’
About the author: Aryan Ali-murad is a creative writer, and you can follow him on IG here
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