"Coyote" Part 5
From the last time
“Samir, can you come in, I've got a proposal for you” he began, “I hear you're a mechanic, is that right?”
“Yes sir” Samir replied, he didn't mean to sound nervous, but he was shaking in his boots, he'd been looking for work, even the smallest, most menial thing would do, but nearly a week of virtually begging, nothing. “I used to work for Mitsubishi motors, I was one of their top mechanics” the explanation sounded just a little like 'self promotion’, something everyone living in the Middle East is good at.
“Good” James replied, “I think we've got something you might be able to help us with!”
Ours were white!
"I'll do my best"
That 'something’ were vehicles, at least a dozen of them, and some were in a very sorry state.
Back in ‘91 when the west had stepped in to stop the wholesale slaughter Saddam started, the military were deployed in force. Seeing the chance to 'get new for old’ most of the units sent made sure their 'old’ stuff got left behind, usually with the excuse 'they’re not worth the cost of shipping back to Germany’
At first it'd sounded a good deal, some old trucks, still running for nothing, then reality set in.
There were at least a dozen Dodge two ton pickups, all in various states of neglect. Doors missing, hoods missing, and he couldn't even see what state the engines were in, that is except for the two with the hoods missing, one didn't have an engine anymore, and the other, the carburettor and air filter were gone.
“Samir listen,” James turned and looked at the poor Iraqi. “We’re not expecting miracles, only God can do them, and to be honest” he looked at collection of forlorn vehicles before him, “to be honest, some of these will take a miracle or two to get back on the road.” They walked round the vehicles so that Samir could get a better idea of what was needed, Azeem was with them, but Tariq had been left back at the office.
“Azeem reckons there’s maybe one more good vehicle can be had from these, he’s been working on them and restored two already, but I need him back on the village projects” he stopped momentarily as he moved round one of the vehicles that was perched on concrete blocks instead of tyres. “Truth is Samir” James began again, “we've got more work than we have people to do the work, and more people than we have vehicles, so, anything you can do is going to be a big help for us,”
That felt good, it wasn't a 'handout’ they were doing, they needed help too, and he could help, that felt damn good!
He also wasn't a man to give a promise easily, it was almost a point of pride that if he said a thing then he'd give his all to make sure it happened.
“I'll do my best Mr James, I'll do my very best”
Does God really listen?
The next few days Samir worked hard on getting some of the vehicles back into roadworthy condition. He had the first one working by the end of the first day, that one had been pretty easy, just some new 'bushes’ in the alternator.
He stripped it down, measured what he needed, and made new ones. There weren't any in good condition in the other vehicles, so there wasn't much choice really.
Along with all this, in the back of his mind, he was thinking about what to do about Hamid. The money was gone, so was the chance to leave Iraq, but Pauline, James and even Tariq were telling him to take it up with the authorities.
“Samir” it was Pauline spoke most strongly about it, “a wrong has been done, and you need to tell them!”
“But what can they do about it?” He genuinely was mystified, “Hamid's in Turkey, maybe Europe by now, he's not coming back!”
“You don't know that for sure, God has a strange way of doing things!” it was just like Pauline and James to talk that way, just like they had a direct line to the Almighty. They were people 'of faith’, not just in name, but they lived and breathed it. Every day and everything was started by asking God about it, and over the last few weeks strange things had happened, now they were telling him to do something even stranger.
“But why would God even listen to me?” he asked again, frustrated he went on, “he doesn’t even listen to our priests!”
“God listens to everyone” James replied.
“And he always answers” Pauline added, “we don't always like his answers, that's why we say he didn't hear us, but he always does!”
A powerful demonstration (from the Movie 'The Last Apostle')
"Does he really?"
'Coming from anyone else, that would be pure bullshit’ Samir thought to himself, 'but he seems to always listen to these two!’
Samir and Sara couldn't help themselves, they were keen observers. When you're from a 'minority’ and second class citizens, it paid to be, there wasn't much they missed, they'd been watching the people at Op Mercy for the time they'd been staying with Tariq.
It was the little things, like they actually read the Bible and believed it!
Samir didn't have anything against that, after all he was a Christian, it's just he hadn't expected westerners to be like that! All the movies and stuff he'd seen about the West showed things very different to the way these people did things, and he liked what he saw, that is up until now, this but he wasn't so sure about!
“Samir, you have to tell the authorities here” James began again, “they need to hear it, so they can do things about it!”
“But they're not likely to listen to me,” he protested feebly, “I'm not a Kurd”
“But you're a Kerkuki” Luka, another of the workers, who also stayed in the house with Tariq spoke up, he'd come into the room halfway through the discussion, he overheard Samir's last statement, and took exception to it.
Take a drive around Kerkuk
'You're from Kerkuk, you're our brother!'
Samir and Sara had grown up in Kirkuk, the centre of the Iraqi oilfields, Luka had too, the only difference was he grew up in the Kurdish area of the city where they'd lived in the Christian quarter.
They'd moved to Baghdad just after getting married. Samir got a job as a mechanic, Sara had family in Baghdad so the move made sense, then the invasion of Kuwait happened.
When the uprising came, all those in the north, fled to Turkey and Iran, in the South they were stuck, and God help anyone Saddam found whose family took any part in it, even the smallest part got the most draconian response with whole extended families being wiped out.
Samir knew Luka hadn't seen his family for three years, he hadn't taken part in the uprising, but working for Op Mercy meant a price on his head, Luka didn't even know if his family were still alive!
“I'm from Kirkuk, yes” Samir replied, “but that doesn't mean much” he turned and looked directly at Luka, he'd spoken in the eastern dialect of Kurdish, hoping only Luka would understand. “You know the leaders only hear what they want to!”
“Brother” Luka spoke softly, he knew the foreigners were understanding more than Samir realised, “it's not just you they'll be dealing with, they know you work for Op Mercy, they love Mr James and Mrs Pauline, do as they say, you'll be surprised at who'll listen!”
“Samir” Pauline spoke up, she was careful to speak in Kurdish, “it's how they treat the 'little people’ that makes all the difference” she didn't know the Kurdish for 'minority’ but it got the meaning over, “how they treat you says a lot about how ready they are to be treated as ready to govern!”
Who are the Kurds?
"We'll make them listen!"
Samir hadn’t ever thought of the Kurds as ‘brothers’ but here was Luka, telling him just that! Luka was a Kurd, and he was Muslim, that is that’s what he said he was, but Samir had seen even him reading the Bible a couple of times. Tariq had gotten him an Arabic one and he’d sit and read some of it most days.
Samir had asked him about it, and why he wasn’t reading the Qur’an, Luka’s reaction had been simple.
“I’m a Kurd” he’d replied, “I want to know our history, you know we weren’t allowed to read about Kurdish history in Saddam’s Iraq, there’s nothing about the Kurds in the Qur’an” he shifted slightly, “but this book” he held it up, almost waving it in front of Samir’s face, there was a tear in his eye as he said it, “This book is full of our history, look here” he opened the book, it fell open at the story of Abram leaving Mesopotamia, “This happened just a couple of hundred kilometers away! Near Aleppo, IN KURDISTAN! Or here,” He was turning to the story of Noah’s Ark, “Mount Ararat, in KURDISTAN!” Luka was almost weeping, finally he turned to another story, “You remember the big Mosque in the centre of Kirkuk?”
Samir was taken aback, he knew exactly where this was going, but it was so strange he really didn’t know how to handle it, “Yes, the Mosque of the prophet Daniel, where the prophet daniel is meant to be buried!”
“That’s right” Luka replied, “His story isn’t in the Qur’an, only his sayings” he fumbled the pages a little, “But here it is, all of it! This is our story, and I want to know it!”
That had been a few days before, now Luka was calling him a ‘brother’, he liked them, but it took a lot of getting used to!
Luka looked him right in the eye, “We’ll make them listen”