Saturday, April 22, 2006

Riverbend: A Royal Visit...

Brief, readable snapshot of life in Iraq in the course of what seems a never-ending stream of political instability.

So we’ve been spending the days with Bibi Z. (‘Bibi’ being a Baghdadi word meaning “granny” or “nana”) We don’t know her exact age, but we estimate she’s well into her eighties. She has a deceptively frail look about her- soft, almost transparent skin, a small face framed with long wisps of white hair. Her dark eyes are still very alive and have a look of permanent fascination because her brows are so white, they barely show up against her skin.

Having the distinction of being the oldest member of an Iraqi family has its privileges. Bibi Z. has installed herself as temporary reigning queen of the household- moving from room to room with the grace and authority of royalty. Within ten minutes of arriving at our house, she occupied my room and I was promptly relegated to the uncomfortable sofa in the living room. She spends the hours supervising everything from homework to housework, and inevitably advising on the best ways to store winter clothes, roll up the carpeting, and study algebra. Although she no longer cooks, she sometimes deigns to sample our cooking and always finds it in need of a spoon of this, or a pinch of that.

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