Fatoma goes to Hollywood
Fatma or Fatoma when she’s pampered, is an average stature of a woman that never managed to surpass her high school level. When she moved down the road from our house she was already married to a man 27 years her senior while she was only 20 years old. Fatoma gave birth to 3 children and as the days went by she sort of become the macho of her family - driving the family car, quite fast; doing the grocery shopping, running errands, and looking after her children in some what precarious way. Along the years she gained her fame for being a bit loose and one day a friend told me Fatma got her self a boyfriend, during which she got pregnant with her 4th child (a son)– not to insinuate infidelity here, but people did talk about it. Fatma’s loud voice and her driving style were quite unique and recognized by everyone in the neighborhood.
After her husband’s death she turned the house garage into a candy shop to make an extra living. Before the fall of Baghdad Fatma’s children were already married and moved out except for her son. After the fall we heard Fatma moved to Nasriya and the empty house was occupied by barking dogs and a few strange men. But beginning of 2008 Fattma moved back. When I retuned to Baghdad for a few days she saw me and she looked quite joyful. She wore a veil that was a bit pushed back to show the rather cheap henna color of her hair, and she told me ‘Khaloudi (Khalid), your hair cut is nice and look like those ‘Emrikkan’ (American) soldiers and like in Hoolie-ood (Hollywood) films.
she talked about how things are getting better in terms of security but she added that there is neither electricity nor water, but she insisted that the security is very good but the generator in the neighborhood was broken for 10 days without getting it fixed because the services are very bad. She told me her children stopped sending her money and the kilos of tomatoes are very expensive now yet the security is good at the supermarket. While she complained about how corrupt the government employees are and how she would throw the electricity bills at their faces and never pay it out she simultaneously praised the government, again, for the security and for the pay raise her sister got for teaching at some elementary school. She says that the government is doing its best but the people are dishonest and futile, especially the young people. She asked me if I went to Hoolie-ood when I was in Emrikh (America), and she told me her daughter had filed for asylum to go to Emrikh while she is in Amman where “the Jordanians – sons of bluffers, are giving her hard time.” She said “Khaloodi now we have voting not like before, Saddam never cared about voting, but this Gawad (pimp) Al Hakim promised to kill people if not elected.”
I remember once Fatma said that when you break an Iranian bones you find shit! And today Fatma is exercising her right to become a neighborhood representative for Iyad Alawi’s constituency. Every day we found her at her house doorsteps distributing Dishdash (Arabic long white dress) and children toys to the poor to win their hearts! She told me Iyad Alawi is a nice man and will help the people and I wondered how did Alawi managed to recruit a person like Fatma. Before I excused myself she told me ‘Khalid, “will you go to Hoolie-ood again?’ and I replied “no, perhaps you Fatma should go there” and she felt quite happy about it.
The next day when I left to the airport we drove pass her house and heard some funny music amplified from a little radio next to Iyad Alawi’s picture on the front gate, and Fatma busily passing out Deshdash and other items to a few passersby. I contemplated for a moment and whispered to my ears: Fatoma goes to Hoolie-ood!