While cleaning the house and folding the laundry, I first watched a movie, The Words, and then a documentary about Margaret Mitchell who wrote my favorite book.
The first non textbook I ever read was Gone with the Wind, in Arabic. I was nine years old, had recently left my birth country of Iraq and was living in Amman, Jordan with my family. We were awaiting a Visa to enter the United States. I loved Gone with the Wind because despite my young age and eastern cultural background, I connected and fell in love with Scarlett O’Hara and the other characters which resembled my tribe. Seeing my attachment to this story, my siblings took me to the movie theater for the first time in my life where I watched a black and white version of Gone with the Wind, subtitled in Arabic. The book and film was my first impression of America. I thought I would come here and see “the South” as it was described by Margaret Mitchell. Well, I was in for a big surprise. Michigan in 1981 was not Georgia in the 1800’s. Still, this became the pattern in my life – being inspired by western storytellers while writing about the land, culture and descendants of Iraq.
Earlier this year, I read Gone with the Wind for the third time. I saw it with completely different eyes. This time around, I saw the politics of war that I’d missed as a child. Some of the most memorable quotes were:
Ashley Wilkes: “Most of the miseries of the world were caused by wars. And when the wars were over no one ever knew what they were about.”
Rhett Butler: “All wars are fought for money. All other reasons men go to war are just false reasons, pretexts and empty words fed to them by stay at home orators.”
I guess we either do not want to learn our lesson, are too lazy to find other solutions, or war is just too good a thing to pass up.