From Baghdad to Bedlam

by Kadar, Magad

 It’s 1987, and Maged is working nights as a cabbie in London, befriended by his fellow cabbie, ‘The Professor’, who offers local prostitutes gynaelogical advice. By day he’s a news junkie, hooked on broadcasts from his native war-torn Iraq, and desperate for news of his family. To deal with his terrible homesickness he recalls his childhood in Iraq in vivid detail – the meetings in the village diwan, the scent of coffee beans, and the colourful outlaws, shepherds, soldiers and visiting Muslim missionaries that pass through. He goes on to recall Saddam Hussein’s rise to power, and his escape to England, where he meets his future wife, Carole, in the lingerie section of C&A in Liverpool. From the idyll of his childhood through the harsh realities of a life of unemployment in Thatcherite Britain, Maged’s recollections are filled with a deep affection for his Iraqi and British homes. He struggles to reconcile the gap between the two, and it is only after twenty years of separation and years of bloody conflict that he is finally reunited with his family in Iraq.