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Promise of a trouble-maker

February 3, 2003
The Iranian

Opening speech for "Poets and Peace" event in London's Shool of Oriental Studies (SOAS).

O my God,
Me! Giving a speech!
Last time I did it, in a political party
They kicked me out
Today, if you are not happy
Just applaud
Please, no violence
We are here for peace, after all

And if you don't mind
Please open your hearts
Last time I spoke to a brain
It was a friend's, a painter
Who red-coloured my nose

Yesterday, when my kids left me
While my world was falling into pieces
I told them all
One by one
"Je t'aime. N'oublie pas." Don't forget.
And they understood what I meant:
I'm not going to let the war happen
I'm going to protect your Iraqi mates-to-be
Who knows,
My daughter might marry an Iraqi boy
Lucky man!
And my sons, two beautiful Kurdish girls

"I have big news for you daddy"

That is it!
She is a young woman now

It's like it was yesterday
When on a tiny black screen
They showed me this white spot
Her tiny womb
Within her mum's;
These Russian dolls
Giving us birth
Teaching us how to love

And when she was 5
She drew the picture of her new brother
Still inside her mum
Playing football

If Humanity continues
It's due to our team
And if I struggle for peace
It's to keep the game going

That's why I invited you
Because I couldn't save all those kids alone
I know how to love
And I've loved quite a few
But to save all those kids
I need more hearts to beat
That is why I asked you upfront
To open your hearts
We have a mission


Do you hear the boots?
They are not far
They say they will shoot shortly
They will launch the bombs
And they do not sound so funny
The bombs I mean

Twenty years ago
Hidden in a stairwell
Because there wasn't any shelter
With two little girls in my arms
We made journeys to hell
And the most difficult thing was how they looked at me
"Are we going to die, uncle?"
"Are we going to die?"
"Are we going to die?"
And I replied ...
I don't remember what I replied
But I would prefer jail or exile
To face those regards

There're questions, which poison your life
The whole life

And if you hadn't noticed
We didn't die
But I should admit
That the most beautiful music I've ever heard
Is that ugly military deafening siren
Signalling the end of bombing
A genuine symphony with a unique note
And I can tell you that
When the bombing is over
And you are still alive
You find how beautiful this life is
All of a sudden you forget that you live under dictatorship
Or that the kids have not seen the colour of meat for a while
You forget even that they are going to return tomorrow
And they returned lots of "tomorrow"s
Too many

One day, I have to tell this story to my kids

The Emperor
Who is not even a genuine boss
Because he stole his crown
Wants some blood
Some young flesh
He has ordered the menu
The table is set
Atmospheric music is meticulously played
The hunters are sent for the job
And they prepare the barbecue

I even saw a poodle round here
Barking for some bones

The only thing that the Emperor forgot
(Nobody is perfect)
Is that I'm in his way
(I promised to my kids,
I told you)
And I'm not alone
You wouldn't bother coming
If you didn't want to save them

And ... get closer!
We are the majority
More and more out for the Emperor
And his minion the poodle

I heard the minion saying the other day:

"To have influence
We need to be the closest to the Emperor
And it's all benefit to us"

What ungraceful and rouge nation
Would refuse some miserable blood
To such a high spirit commitment?
They need some influence!
They are so used to it,
We would better die rather and seeing them without influence
And even they didn't show us the figures
They are given a good deal on this
Nobody can reject this
We should understand them
Please feel at home
And send as many bombs as you need

The Emperor is speaking

Lick my boots
And you will get the first prize
You will have a prize
Don't say anything
You won't be punished
Say NO
You will suffer
And you!
Try it
And ... you will see

Well, we will see
Because we are going to try it
Because we are going to cry it
On the rooftop of the world

This damn two-letter word
Has blown up a lot of poor emperors
The real ones
From Spartacus to the cheeky stone throwers in Palestine
Through the Ghettos of Warsaw
Man has always been a trouble-maker
As if it's in our genes

"I say NO therefore I am"
"I say NO therefore I am"
"I say NO therefore I am"

Isn't it the second word we learn in our life?
The first being "love"
I mean "mum"

And I didn't invite you tonight to add one more reading to your artistic CV.
I ask you to build up our Resistance together
"Artists and resistance!?"
"And so!"
Zola wrote "J'accuse" against anti-Semite witch hunting
Hugo went into exile
Sartre and Russell created the tribunal
And Nazim Hikmat went from village to village
Prison to prison
Against dictatorship

He said: What are you going to do?
I said: We are already doing something. We are reading! Painting, Taking photographs, and more
He said: And ...
I said: This IS an action!
He said: And ...
I said: There are some who don't even read!
He said: And ...

I hate him when he speaks like this
As if he's short of vocabulary

So I changed the tactic and said: And ...
He said: Do they stop their war machine because you are reading your lousy poem?
(He is very jealous)
And I said: ... Hmmm... I don't think so
I said: Well. I'm not sure. But we are doing our best.
He said: Your best is not good enough!
I said: And ...
He said: You can do better
I said: And ...
He said: That's it!
I said: AND ...

And he suggested this:

The Emperor seems to be preparing the party for the end of February
Let's organise a Peace Festival all over the world
Before the fireworks
Everybody out
Singing and dancing,
Reading and painting
In the streets of London and Paris,
Kabul or Manila
Budapest or Santiago
Baghdad or New York
Tel Aviv or Jenin

Let's show in what colours
The schoolchildren on this planet
Draw the face of peace,
Of happiness
The nightmare of war
And the dried breasts of hunger,

Let the peace concerts enflame the crowd
Let's dance together
To the rhythm of Kurdish dance
Samba or Flamenco
All the same day,
United by life
Decided for peace

Should we wait for someone to make this festival happen
Before the bombs speak?
Or it can be us?

I can't sit back now
Too late
I've made a promise
When I kissed them
And told them one by one
"Je t'aime. N'oublie pas ça."

If Zola and Hugo
Sartre and Russell
Picasso and Hikmat were alive
They would certainly be with us
In Soas

These lines are an "appeal" in fact!
I couldn't find a template for making standard appeals
Or a book on "Appeals for dummies"
But as I told you upfront
I don't speak to brains any more
I've still got my red nose

© R. Hiwa
18-20 January 2003, Oncy Sur Ecole, Home

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