A true story of a rainy day in Camp Liberty

By Bahman Bakhshi,

It is 3 O’clock of a rainy afternoon in Camp Liberty, where Iranian dissidents live, just next to Baghdad international airport. Some call it Liberty Prison. It is one of the last cold days of winter. I have to wear my large wool socks and my knitted gloves to keep me warm in my very cold room. I also have my scarf around my neck. This scarf with its white lines means a lot to me. It is a souvenir of my fallen friend, Bijan. He was killed on a Christmas Eve when it did neither rain nor snow in Camp Liberty, but fatal rackets fell on us. I look through my window which unlike all windows in winter is not Steamy at all. That reminds me of my childhood, when I used to draw pictures with my finger on steamy windows. You find no steamy window in Camp Liberty. There is a logistic siege exerted on us by the security forces that control the camp.

Just as I watch the rainfall, my mind engages in a downfall of different thoughts. I snoop through the window to the sky where there is a congestion of clouds. I see a glamorous poetic scene that takes human being to his deepness of thoughts.  For many rain is a sign of mercy and effervescence, autumn rain the origin of galore makes lagoons and rivers overflowing, spring rain a symbol of life, growth and greenness for all human and the origin of bliss for farmers,. . . “, I am deep in these thoughts when a sudden drop of rain slips down on the glass pane, taking my eye right to the ground, pulls me out of my thoughts. Now, instead of being high in the clouds, my attention is directed down to the ground. This is a slimy road of Camp Liberty.

Rain always makes roads in Camp Liberty into a mess of mud and grime. Normal walking, especially for the sick, becomes so difficult that sometimes you prefer to stay inside. Walking takes a price of you. Through the window I can see my friend Ali, scarcely walking towards my room, getting help from his cane. He lost one leg when he was attacked by Iranian regime’s terrorists last year. He, still, has wounds on his body. He, once, was going to a hospital in Baghdad to get himself an artificial limb but the Iraqi forces, stationed at the main gate, did not let him leave the camp. He needed a translator to go along with him, as He does not speak or understand Arabic, but the Iraqi security forces would not allow anybody to accompany him.

Ali is completely wet. It gets me wondering if he can manage to get himself to my room on that arduous road. Picking up my umbrella I hurry toward him. It is too late. He cannot control himself on his hand cane. I rush toward him but he slips and falls to the ground before I can reach him. . . .

An hour later. . .

Ali is lying on his bed to rest a little bit. However, rain that continues to fall starts leaking through the ceiling. We don’t have means to isolate ceilings of these old caravans, for the Iraqi security forces do not allow us bring in, even, nylon to the camp. Once again I drowned in my thoughts. This time I’m here on earth, instead of flying high over the clouds. I’m reminded of a year ago when I read in the news that the high air contamination had produced an “acid rain” that caused many detrimental effects to the environment. My dreams do not last long as a strong smell of alcohol brings me to. This time is my other roommate, Reza, who comes in breathing hard, totally wet in the rain. He, too, is sick and is just coming back from getting an injection. Until he will be able to go to hospital, he needs injections to reduce his pain. He has to bear the pain, sometimes for an hour, until the medicine affects. It’s me who has to stand more pain as I am always doomed to watch him writhe. The Iraqi doctor in the camp’s clinic made a few arrangements for him to go to hospital in Baghdad, but each time the Iraqi agents in the camp’s management cancelled his appointments for absurd reasons. Once they claimed he did not need a translator, once they decided that he should not go to a certain hospital.

I prefer to let myself be deluged with my thoughts again. Saadie, an Iranian poet, believed that a body’s limb in pain takes the whole body in pain. Maybe those men and women who brought up the idea of establishing a “United Nations”, thought the same, but now I have to think of the hollow promises UN authorities gave to the residents of Liberty prison, and . . . the mistreatments by Iraq’s former government. It’s all Nothing but crime and treason.

I wished I could revert my mind high to the sky and over the clouds, but it’s too late. Rain, now pouring heavily, does not give me a chance to break through. More drops of rain, this time larger, roll down on the window, taking my attention, with them, down to the ground. Tang of alcohol, once again, touches my nose, which, this time, makes me remember “Mohammad ibn Zakaria Razi”, the great Iranian chemist, who discovered alcohol.  He wrote, “prolongation of a disease‘s recovery is either due to doctor’s lack of knowledge, or patient’s disobedience”.  I believe if he had a chance to come to Liberty Prison he would discover a third reason which would, probably, correct his sentence as the following:

Prolongation of diseases can have one of the three reasons: doctor’s lack of knowledge, or patient’s disobedience, or deliberate crime against humanity of blocking patient from going to a doctor.