Thursday, November 16, 2006

The importance of being Earnest



Adnan: prominent political figure and future complacent
Faisal: future Iraq’s permanent envoy overseas
Samman: future Ambassador
Maysoon: Art connsieur and future ex-minister assistant
Solomon: rouge Art ‘collector’ and still is!

Scene: rented Koubassied luxurious villa (Koubassys are contractors who gained fortunes during Saddam’s rein) on the Emmirat Streets in the heart of Mansour district, Baghdad. Enter Mays holding a glass of dry Vin rouge Bordeaux 95 dressed in white colored Mango shirt, and a Selfridges black skirt, which holds her graceful figure down to the shin. Her make up resembles that of Laurel Bacall in her older age. She goes over to a mirror and looks abruptly at her ensemble. She then turned around and gives a sigh:

- Ah, I just love the taste of French wine in the fall season. It makes things feel quite sublime.

- Oh dear Mays, I just can’t understand it. (Ushers Solomon hurriedly and adds) How could I not find Saddam’s Matisse? I have garnered almost all his modern and contemporary art collections and I just couldn’t find that one in particular. His French art dealer said to him that his was the only extra copy of Matisse’s ‘the bather’.

- Did you go through Audy and Kussaiy’s?

- I did but not a shred of trace.

- Good God, Solomon, what makes you so sure that Saddam had that Matisse. He probably did not even know of Matisse. (Mays sits in an enormous leather armchair)

- He did not know?! (Solomon snubs back) For your information Saddam used to secretly travel to Paris to participate in art auctions and later would dine with president Chirac.

- Hmm (Mays takes a wine sip and listens nonchalantly)

- Oh Mays I beg you. Talk to your close American friends and tell them to help me outsource that piece of art. It is worth millions.

- The Americans! Do you honestly believe that those low-life cow boys know or feel anything about arts?

- Then what would I do, please?

- Ah, sayed (Mister) Solomon, did you complete your Saddam’s art collection? If so then when would you dig them out of the vault and display them to us? Big-bellied Samman walks in and addresses Solomon.

- How could I manage to complete anything? No one is willing to help as all they think about is their own problems. How selfish!

- Then you are asking the wrong people, Garcon.

A neatly-dressed waiter enters with complete uniform; shirt, bow tie, vest, and long black slacks.

- Yes Sir.

- Please fetch me a glass of the best Vodka there is. Do you have Absolut or Stolichanya?

- We have both, sir.

- Ah, I can see that Adnan is never short of the finest alcohol. Good, then get me Stolichanya with fresh orange juice. Don’t forget, I only like one scope of ice. Are you having anything Solomon?

- Yes I would like a glass of white wine, French that is.

- Very well, sirs. (The waiter walks out)

- So as I was saying, Solomon, you need to talk to the right people. Have you tried Zadeh’s Office?

- Zadeh!?!, If I did then he would have nipped it right out.

- (laughter) you’re probably right!

Adnan enters accompanied by Faisal.

- Dear Faisal, there is no need to worry about such tiny issue. (Adnan peers over his right shoulder and nods to Solomon and Samman)

- But all I m saying is that some people in the ex-governing counsel should know that we never said bombing Baghdad was like a music to our ears. Makkiya said that and we should make it clear to everyone. Besides, we refused to enter Iraq on back of an American tank (Faisal talks nervously)

- Please Faisal; you may upset Al Jalabie and that could mean the end of those lovely Iranian Cashew & Pistachios aperitifs that are served with our drinks. Garcon, don’t forget those lovely nuts too (Samman blurts out somewhat loudly)

- Dear Faisal, the Iraqis need to know the truth about everything even if it felt like taking a bitter medicine everyday (Adnan replies)

- Istath (higher addressable mister) Adnan, how good to see you again. (Mays gets up and walk over to Adnan and prints kisses on his both cheeks) You look wonderful.

- Mays, in this age I have to look wonderful at all time, otherwise, I am dead! Sorry I did not see you first.

- Oh, you’re exaggerating. By the way, since that story you told me of that wretched man at Grosvenor Victoria Casino in Edgware road and I can’t stop laughing. I can just imagine how you have emptied his pockets at the Poker game but yet he was still bragging about the few chips left in his hands.

- That’s why not everyone should sit at a Poker table. Only those who could weight out the other players’ hands can survive. (Adnan brings himself to an Italian leather sofa and makes himself comfortable) I wonder if the buffet is ready.

- speaking of wretched men, on the way over here we were stopped at a police check point and they all looked like those miserable Saddam’s warden faunas at my cell when I was in person. (Samman speaks feverishly.)

- Dear Samman, you spent a mere 4 days in jail during your struggle against the tyrant Saddam. How did you ever remember such details? (Faisal inquiries conceitedly)

- Those 4 days were the longest days in my life. I remember every little details; Garcon, what ever happened to those drinks, are you preparing Pachah? (boiled body parts of a lamp served with Arabic bread)

The waiter comes in with the drinks. He serves the guests and also serves Adnan his Amber Ale Beer.

- I love having my Beer before my siesta. It makes me sleep like a little baby and then I would wake ready to steer issues like a horse.

- You are not joining us at the Buffet?

- No dear, Mays, I will eat after my little nap. My nap is my secrete recipe to long life. Dear Samman, those wretched police you referred to are Iraqis as well and we need to see them as part of our reality landscape. Everything needs to be clear to everyone.

- You mean those shkulat (ugly faces) are Iraqis too. My God, I have no idea what have come of Iraq in the last 20 years? (Mays reacts nervously)

- Dear Mays, (Faisal Adds) not only that, have you seen how the average Iraqi behaves? They look like those who just stepped out of the caves after 50 years of sleep. Amazing! I look at them and I feel I am in some Amazonian far-reached land. I even take pictures for posterity.

- And we have come to teach them some decent, civilized manners and all we hear form them is complains and more complains. During Saddam’s rule they did not even dare to blurt sighs in public. Nouri Al_sayeed was right when he said Iraqis are a sewer manhole and that he was its lid. (Mays elaborates)

- Dear Mays, you should not be so dreadful about it. Iraqis need to see all those inside that sewer manhole too. They have to be honest about their social blocks and deal with it. Truth and honestly are vital to our new Iraq.

- Iraqis will not accept the truth unless it is financially transacted (Samman adds)

- (Faisal addressing Adnan) what are you going to do about those who insinuate that you have been receiving 2 millions US dollars a month from an Arabic country?

- Absolute rubbish. These are sinister elements in the government who want to undermined our political drive

- I’m afraid, Adnan, some earnests may think it is part of an irreversible truth and it may affect us all (Samman adds)

- Earnest people would never entertain such nonsense. What ever happened to the buffet?

It’s ready to be served Sir (the waiter confirms)

- Then I will take my glass of Chivas to the dining veranda. (Faisal decides)

The dining veranda over-looks a heated, semi-indoor swimming pool. The buffet table is placed opposite the waters and behind it there are well-dressed acolytes ready to serve. The seated tables around the pool are complete with table and silverware - even candelabrum, and soft summer chairs.

- Ah, what a wonderful ambience, Adnan. I am so tempted to take a plunge.

- You certainly can Mays. We even have swim suits if you need to borrow one.

- I’ll think about it after this lovely buffet, are you sure you cannot join us.

- Yes Mays. I will eat later. I’ll sit here for a while. It’s a beautiful afternoon. (Adnan sits in a chair under a parasol near the pool)

- Dear Mays, what’s your take on the issue. Would you help me (Solomon asks persistently)

- OK, Solomon, I will ask for a special museum convoy to escort you to Saddam’s several hideouts on the Kargha side, opposite Al Zawra

- Great, thank you so much Mays. Now I have an appetite for this magnificent buffet

The main buffet comprises of Iraqi smoked fish (Mazghouf), mixed Mashawie (chicken and lamb kebab), Ghouzie Mahshi (stuffed greasy lamp) and verities of salads and yogurt drinks. On the side tables there are Arabic Baklava sweets, and cakes. Besides the standard full bar drinks at the buffet; Martini rosso and Bourgogne red 1997 are served too.

Everyone dishes up its plate and take seats around the pool side tables. Adnan looks at the pool water and says:

- It’s all crystal clear under the sun. It is wonderful when everything is under the sun.

- It certainly is (Faisal replies)

- I wish Abdul Kareem Kasim was sitting just like us now before he toppled the monarchy. Had he done so would he have ever thought of doing what he did in 1958?

- Bon appetite (Mays says to everyone)

- Bon appetite (all replies)

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