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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Metamorphosis by Salih Hameed

Metamorphosis by Salih Hameed

In 1971, Hassan was the teacher of sports at kifl;
He had a simple dream that never came true:
Poor Hassan; he never scored a match in ping pong!
"Unlucky me!" He was always grumbling.

In 1984, I met him by coincidence in Batoufa;
Teachers and students were all led by the nose;
"Everyone," Hitler decreed, "should his section pen in that historic war!"
And Hassan, like all of us, was driven to scratch his made-up tale!
One July day, he confided to me how hilarious his would be!
"Would you like to play ping pong?" I teasingly proposed.
"How to play when mortified we're turned dupes!" sardonically he laughed it off.
"You may win just one match, "I in jest teased him to recall.
Chuckling, Hassan moved off toward his mount base.
And up he climbed Khezafa mount.
And Jovially, he shouted:
"Tomorrow I will to Zakho go,
To escort an army truck,
And my fam. to call!
Some fresh food to have, and nice sweets to eat,
And beauty to behold when for a month,
Only this mule face I used to see."

Hassan couldn't a slumber that night have,
Dreaming of his kid's voice,
A gust of passion engulfed him hard:
His mother's warm hugs,
His wife's eyes and her inviting smile,
And the giggles of his two-year gal.
Quietly, he closed his eyes so the vision he could better enjoy.
The cry.
It broke the silence of the dark.
And Hassan up to his feet restlessly shrieked;
The scorpion sting,
At an eye wink,
The feverish flush,
The mouth's dry,
Sweating, Hassan screamed for help!
He never felt the cut of blades on his thigh,
A burning pain streamed into his gore.
Like a rake he did raving start.
Hysteric he was,
Of pain he laughed!
"The unlucky me! Haven't I always cried!" feverishly he replied.
On the edge of the End;
To the Field Medical Unit him they carried.
Hassan by dawn got exhausted,
Sedated he was, and with pain-killers he steeped into Lethe.

"Where's Jaleel?" did captain Ahmed command
"Let him escort the truck. Hassan no longer can!"
Puzzled by the unexpected command,
Jaleel furtively smiled to the news:
"My sick father I'd call;
Haven't heard of him for weeks three,
And know not if short of medicine he might be."
Equipped with things to carry;
He his prayers said,
Never has Jaleel missed that at dawn,
And never has he stopped reciting:
"Say: He is God,
The One and Only;
God, the Eternal, Absolute;"
When the truck roared to move,
Jaleel asked his fellows of what they might need,
And hurriedly he flung himself into the front seat.
Down the hill ran the truck,
"Fare thee well," driver smiled back.

Toward the bottom of the hill,
The truck steadily passed,
And by the detour,
Slowly did the truck run.
Jaleel reclined as though to sleep,
And truck moved smoothly still;
By the very bottom the truck parked:
"Here we are!" driver cried,
And gave Jaleel a shake by the hand,
To which Jaleel moved not,
But his head on the dashboard clashed.
Only then driver felt something weird:
Jaleel's head he moved; and to his surprise;
He saw a hole on his right temper
With little blood running off.
A sniper at the detour must have done it!
Crazed he ran the Medical Unit;
"Help I need!" in fright he cried.

Hassan was from Unit discharged,
Hastily he rushed to give him a hand. He did Jaleel behold,
The gash,
The blood,
The cold Death!
Hallucinating, Hassan in a fit fell.
"That could've been Me!" he's chocked to tell.
Home should Hassan the corpse escort.
At Jaleel's place, Hassan stood speechless,
Unaware of what to say;
Jaleel's father met him at the door;
Dazed Hassan awkwardly gabbled:
"This is NOT Jaleel's It is MINE!
This is not HIM!
T h i s i s m e!
Indeed! ME!
I…n ……..d M……E!!"
The fit again,
The seizure,
The hysteric fall!

Salih Hameed has been teaching English literature for more than twenty years in various Iraqi universities. Currently, he teaches English drama at the Dept. of English, University of Babylon, Iraq.

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