Childhood stories

Stories from my Childhood – Playing Hide-and-Seek in Baghdad

Twenty years ago or so, in a hot Baghdadi summer afternoon, my aunt’s family visited us for a sleepover, a frequent event that was exciting for myself and the other kids; my brothers, sister, and cousins.

It was always thrilling to have extended family over. I loved the freedom and the relative chaos at the house, the liberty from sleeping early, the special cooking and all the games we played. Not being able to contain my seemingly never-ending excitement, I would always ask my aunts “aunt, when will you leave?!”, and my aunts would always respond with “Why? Do you want us to go?”. It always baffled and bummed me why my aunties always would answer this way, I’d only meant “how long will I be this happy?”. Only years later I realized the importance of the correct phrasing of my questions.

Enjoying the afternoon, we were playing hide and seek in the street in front of our house; loud and careless and having so much fun.

My cousin, Ibrahim, had lost, so it was his turn to close his eyes and us to hide.

To announce the counting and pace the hiding, the player had to sing a song loudly, and open their eyes once its over to start seeking. The song he was singing had interesting lyrics. It included something to the effect of “God strike him blind that who snoops”.

We hid and all, but Ibrahim stopped mid-counting and didn’t look for us, he bolted inside in a raging panic, by the time he made it to his mom, he was bawling… crying his eyes out.

His mom asked him what was wrong, he won’t say, his mom turned towards me scared asking what had happened?! I had no clue!

He looked up, filled with shame and guilt, and uttered: “it’s me, it’s me, I snooped, I’m going blind, I won’t see anymore, mom, I will lose my sight”. His mom instantly figured it out and exploded with laughter and hugged him to calm him down.

He eventually calmed down and we continued playing. It was a hilarious moment that stuck with me to this day.

Ibrahim, now and back then, has and had one of kindest purest hearts I ever came across.

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